China and Russia, then today France, work on trying to snipe the allies of the US, and I claim that US’s allies (mainly Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE) calculate it properly, as they try to follow a policy of independence which appears especially in their diversification of arms sources.
In my opinion, the today equation in the Emirates, which is practicing the most broad and accurate strategy, is as follows:
Rafale = Mirage 2000 + F35
My equation could be explained as follows:
In response to the AUKUS alliance in the Pacific between Australia, UK and the US, and the US’s extortion of the Australian submarine deal from France (primarily targeting China), France began trying to extract US arms deals in Indonesia, UAE and others.
Naturally, the supposed logical goal of the advanced Rafale deal is to replace the Mirage 2000 aircraft that have been in the UAE army for a long time. But after it is almost certain that the US F-35 deal to the UAE has been halted, there is an irreplaceable opportunity that France can exploit, which is to fill the void created by halting the F-35 deal to the UAE by increasing the size of the Rafale deal instead, while keeping the very effective US F-16 multi-role fighter jets.
There is no doubt that France considers this deal as a great gain in the Middle East, in an attempt to systematically replace the US role in the region. Although Paris may consider the Rafale deal with UAE (a loud slap) in the face of Washington, especially with the possibility of halting the US F-35 deal, I think that the US has much broader calculations.
There is an important question that arises in the minds of some, “How will be Washington’s reaction? or what is the broader US calculations/ strategy?”
The answer, in my opinion, is as follows:
I think that the US is well aware of France’s current moves before implementing them, and certainly Washington was ready with the proper measures. By the way, I personally know about the Rafale deal in the details that I wrote in this assessment some time ago, so what about the intelligence of countries, especially the US?
It’s clear that Biden’s broader strategy, mainly, targets China, and Washington fully understands the method of dealing with France, which is called among the NATO countries (The Reluctant), that is, a member of NATO always objecting and fluctuating, but as I Think, France at the same time tries to be the US’s political arm in Europe instead of the UK, in addition to Africa and other regions.
On the other hand, I think that the US has almost reduced its sales of multi-role combat aircraft after the F-16, whether F-22 or F-35, their sales are limited compared to the F-16. Also, the generation of the F-22 and F-35 system is considered within the weapon of the modern Cold War and proxy warfare with scattered targets, but not in line with the hot conventional wars.
In my view, currently, Washington focuses on China and the US’s interests in Asia, the Pacific and Africa, and lessening its focus in the Middle East.
From the above, and in answer to the question I posed directly, I believe that the US will adhere to Obama’s 2015 strategy called “Strategic Patience.” The current US administration headed by Biden, who belongs to the same Democratic Party to which Obama belongs, will continue to move towards Asia and Africa, focusing on China, while working on sniping the largest number of deals and allies at the expense of China as a country and the Middle East as a region. Hence, France (as an European anti-Chinese and Russia interests in the region) is more preferably to the US to replace its role and to have deals with its allies rather than China and Russia. However, the US sees France as a better option, but keep an eye on it.”
In all cases, I think that we have to bear in mind that the US will not, under any circumstances, overstate its key allies in the Middle East, especially Egypt, Saudi Arabia and UAE.
MG (ret). Sayed Ghoneim, PhD
Fellow, Nasser’s Higher Military Academy
Chairman, IGSDA – Visiting Professor at NATO