DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Across the Middle East, countries locked out of purchasing U.S.-made drones due to rules over excessive civilian casualties are being wooed by Chinese arms dealers, who are world’s main distributor of armed drones.
The sales are helping expand Chinese influence across a region crucial to American security interests and bolstering Beijing’s ambitions to lead in high-tech arms sales.
U.S. drones were first used in Yemen to kill suspected al-Qaida militants in 2002.
The drone that fired a missile that killed Saleh al-Samad, a top Shiite Houthi rebel official, in April was not one of the many American aircraft that have been buzzing across the skies of Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. It was Chinese.
The U.S. still holds a technology advantage. China wins on price.