Washington’s Middle East allies could have little choice with 5G

Workers install 5G telecommunications equipment on a T-Mobile tower in Seabrook, Texas. May 6, 2020
(photo credit: REUTERS/ADREES LATIF)

Currently in ‘cold war’ with China, US deems its version of telecommunications system a security concern.


The US is pressing its allies in the Middle East to join about 30 other nations in foregoing the Chinese version of 5G, the newest technology for cellular networks, claiming that a law in China can compromise their data and security. These states will thus find themselves having to choose between Beijing, a major investor in the region, and Washington, their security guarantor, which believes its own security could be breached via allies using a Chinese system.

“It’s every country’s own decision,” US Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach told The Media Line, adding, however: “We want to warn them against using Chinese 5G for their own national security.” It’s not just a warning, though.When asked how serious the US was in saying that it could sever ties with allies that disagree, Krach replied: “It’s very serious.” One of those allies is Israel. Under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Jewish state has made China its third-largest trading partner. The Asian giant has invested huge sums in infrastructure projects and start-ups in Israel – some of them so sensitive that they drew concern in Washington for potentially putting US military operations in the area at risk.

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