Benaim confirmed, in an exclusive interview with Al-Hurra Monday, that this arrangement will be discussed during the tour conducted by the American delegation headed by Robert Malley, who is in the region, and who will join him himself in a few days.
Benayem described Qatar as an exceptional partner, stressing that the United States will take into account its requests to obtain F-35 drones and planes.
He pointed out that the Emirates sale of F-35 aircraft is moving forward, while an understanding is being reached about guarantees related to this deal.
Question: What is your message to the Gulf countries and the region during your participation in the Manama Dialogue this week?
The US official said: “Our message will be that we are in the region to stay, and we have strong and stable partnerships built over decades, and we are keen to continue them for decades to come.”
Benaim saw that these partnerships were clearly demonstrated during the crisis in Afghanistan, and said, “It was the countries in the Gulf region that stood and helped the United States in dealing with this problem. It was an essential part of our operational system in the world.”
“We had a crisis in one region in South Asia, and Qatar, the UAE, Kuwait and a number of other countries announced their readiness to use their lands and the places they shared with our military forces to bring in the evicted Afghans,” he added.
He said, “Together and with the help of our Gulf partners, we established a historic air bridge that evacuated thousands of people and more than sixty thousand across Qatar alone. What we saw was a practical manifestation of the partnership.”
Benaim stressed that the US military “is unrivaled and there is no other army that can compete with us and we can be anywhere and anytime we want to be,” adding, “We are dynamic and present in terms of strength. You will hear this kind of strong and consistent message” in ” Manama Dialogue.
However, he stressed that the US role in the region is not limited to its forces, noting that the United States is adopting diplomacy to ease tensions and resolve differences.
The official listed examples of US diplomacy in the region, including: “1.4 million people came from the Middle East to study in the United States, and they are the main part of the link that connects our countries, and there is a way to bring our partners together.”
In addition to “the Al-Ula agreement that brought together the countries that were divided to be able to work together with us in order to deal with the same threats as one group more coherent than the past. Such as the Ibrahim agreements and expanding the circle of normalization.”
He said, “We have new, creative ways to bring countries together to solve problems, whether they are related to water, energy, tolerance and even in some cases defense issues. And to include Israel in this mixture and bring more capabilities.”
Question: Since you talked about the Al-Ula agreement, do you think that the Gulf countries were able to overcome the dispute?
Benaim responded, “I have to say that when President Biden arrived, on January 20, the AlUla agreements were a new phenomenon. Handshakes and some agreements. And I think what I’ve seen during the eight months is a real deepening of all these relationships. There are trips between places where there weren’t trips before and there is an exchange. Ambassadors, as there were no ambassadors before, and there are visits, as there were no visits for years, between Egypt and Qatar, and between the Emirates and Qatar, including Turkey.
“I think what I’ve seen is an intensification of these relations. Nobody will forget the experience they went through, but I think what you’re seeing is a very good example of a real part of achieving peace, which is ‘forgive and remember’,” he added.
Question: But the dispute still exists, for example, over the normalization of relations with Syria. What is your comment?
Benaim said: “I think that countries will act differently on different issues and we have clarified our view on normalization with Syria, so that we are concerned about the signal it is sending and we do not intend to normalize with Syria. But you will see different countries taking different approaches to several issues. The explanation for success here does not lie in That Qatar and its neighbors behave in the same way on all issues.”
He stressed that “there must be respect and continuous consultations between neighbors and work together and work with us.”
Question: Were you able to make a decision regarding Qatar’s request to purchase drones and F-35 fighters?
He replied, “We are looking closely at these requests. What I can tell you is that Qatar has proven that it is an exceptional partner on defense issues such as the expansion of Al Udeid Air Base, Afghanistan and many more issues. As an exceptional partner, it deserves full consideration of its request.”
But he added, “I have nothing new about these sales at the moment.” He pointed out that the Qataris “are close partners and we give full consideration to any of their requests because they did everything in their power. No country in the world has done more than Qatar to help us in Afghanistan and this is to their credit.”
Question: What about the agreement with the UAE to sell it fifty F-35 aircraft?
Benaim replied, “We continue to move forward with this transaction. We are trying to make sure that we have a very clear mutual understanding with the UAE regarding the guarantees required in such sales. But we intend to move forward with this transaction.”
Benaim: “As soon as we reach a clear mutual understanding.”
Question: How do you assess US-Saudi relations at this time?
The official replied, “I think it is stronger than it looks. You have leaders in the two countries working to achieve a common understanding on many issues. They periodically talk, consult and work closely together on many issues, not only that grab the headlines but also those far from these headlines.” .
He added, “You have someone like John Kerry who has been to Saudi Arabia repeatedly and works closely with the Saudis to make huge and historic new investments in clean energy. I will personally go with Robert Malley, Tim Lenderking, Jim Gavito and others for the next round of US consultations with the GCC.” .
He said: “Robert Malley and I were there three weeks ago in the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and we will return to Riyadh again to meet with the leadership in the Gulf and with European leaders in a new arrangement to make clear that the international community stands united in asking Iran to address the world’s nuclear concerns and to start addressing the challenges caused by its behavior. The regional as well. I think there are more strategic talks and consultations taking place with the Gulf states.”
QUESTION: Does this mean that you will be joining the team headed by Mali that is in the Middle East?
Benaim: “Yes, I will join the team.”
Question: What is the purpose of this tour?
He replied that “the goal is several things. In the first place, it is not harmful to talk with our partners, listen to them, meet and reach a clear understanding about our positions, share information on multiple regional challenges, mutual security challenges, and how to deepen security cooperation and diplomatic cooperation as well.”
“Secondly, we want to send a signal to the world that America’s core allies in Europe and our close friends in the Middle East are standing together. We all stand together in sending a clear message to Iran and anyone who supports Iran in this by saying: ‘You have to address these nuclear issues and not You can differentiate us and you have to work with us together to address all of these nuclear and regional issues as well.”
Question: What about their preparation for returning to the nuclear agreement?
Benaim said, “The nuclear agreement has a specific architecture, but these countries have a very important word and an important position regarding what is going on. The nuclear agreement is focused on the ‘five plus one’ countries.”
He added, “But the countries in the region, many of which are in private talks with Iran, are important stakeholders in the issue of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons, and they deserve to be consulted, and they have ideas and advice that can improve US policy. If we all sit together and have these talks, we hope that we will get somewhere.” Better than we are.”
Question: What was behind the decision of the US State Department to approve the sale of air-to-air missiles to Saudi Arabia? How will Representative Ilhan Omar’s position affect the deal itself and US-Saudi relations?
Benaim: “Congress has a very important role to play in selling arms, and we respect it greatly. We hope to move forward with this air missile deal because it helps Saudi Arabia defend its territory. Two weeks after he arrived at the White House, President Biden came to this building and said two things. First, we will stop our support for operations.” This came with the suspension of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and secondly, we will redouble our efforts to make sure that our partners in Saudi Arabia have what they need to defend themselves against Houthi attacks and to defend the 70,000 Americans who live on Saudi soil.
He added, “These air-to-air missiles will be used inside Saudi Arabia against threats to Saudi lands coming from Yemen. Therefore, our view is that these weapons are part of what Saudi Arabia needs to defend its lands because they are air-to-air missiles and because the Houthis do not constitute an air force.”
Question: But they have parades?
Benaim: “It is true, but these missiles are not used in Yemen. They are used in Saudi Arabia to defend threats from Yemen, and therefore they are defensive.”
One last question: The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed, will visit Turkey soon. How do you see this visit after years of cold relations between the two countries?
Benaim: “From our point of view, when we see two partners of the United States coming together and ending the division, that’s a very important thing. These leaders don’t have to agree on every detail of the policy and that helps them reduce tension and work constructively together in the hope that they will find ways to make sure that strategic competition in Other countries do not derail our efforts.”
“Where there are leaders talking and trading and exchanging views and delegations and companies, there is more investment in keeping things on track and trying to find common solutions. For me this applies to the rest of the region assuming that Turkey and the UAE will be looking to cooperate on many issues and I think that will be good for the stability of the region.