French President Emmanuel Macron will arrive in Abu Dhabi today, beginning his two-day trip to the Arab Gulf.
During his visit, Macron will discuss ways to deepen French-Emirati relations with his counterparts, and the sale of French Rafale fighter jets to Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi’s decision to purchase the jets came as a swift response to the restriction of F-35 purchases by the US. Macron’s trip also suggests that France—which has been excluded from the AUKUS plan—is looking to fill in the gap left by the US’ disengagement from the Middle East.
Expect Paris and Abu Dhabi to further cooperate in defense during the short- to medium-term. It is highly likely that the two will stage joint military exercises near the Persian Gulf. Abu Dhabi will also likely turn to Paris as an alternative defense supplier due to future uncertainty regarding the US’ credibility in the Middle East, and because acquiring French defensive equipment will be a simpler process than acquisitions from the US. Given this, the UAE may purchase additional French defensive equipment including La Fayette class warships in the long-term. France will also benefit, as it will have a more active position in the region’s affairs.
Can is a Publisher and Analyst with Foreign Brief and currently pursuing his PhD in the Department of History at Bighampton University. His research there primarily focuses on the 19th-century Balkan independence movements.