TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has said the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is attempting to become the region’s "second Israel” by increasing its arms imports.
In the interview with Al Araby TV, Zarif said that "three regimes in the region believe they can maintain their security through their relations with the United States,” in reference to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Israel.
He added, however, that they would be wrong to believe the weapons can guarantee security from the U.S., as they would be used to achieve the goals of the Zionist regime.
Studies have shown that the UAE’s arms imports increased by 63 percent between 2012 and 2016, and that its military spending is predicted to grow from $23.6 billion in 2016 to $31.8 billion by 2021, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
The increase in weapons imports and military spending reflect the increasingly interventionist policies adopted by the UAE in recent years, including its involvement in the Saudi war on Yemen, its support Libya’s warlord Khalifa Haftar, and its stakes in the ports of east Africa.
To these ends, the UAE has enacted a combined strategy of funding leading figures and building its own army of foreign mercenaries while developing its armed forces with training from the U.S. military.
The vast majority of the arms the UAE, along with Saudi Arabia, imports are manufactured in the U.S., making them heavily reliant on American support.
For example, 78 of the UAE’s 138 fighter planes come from the U.S. Washington, meanwhile, has approved over $68 billion worth of deals for the two states since the start of the war in Yemen.
The UAE is also one of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries which, along with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain, imposed a blockade on neighboring Qatar in 2017. It is also a key member an Arab alliance being pushed by the U.S. against Iran.