US to approve $60 Billion Arms deal to Saudi


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Didn't notice this anywhere else so

US prepares to approve $60bn arms deal with Saudi Arabia

Deal could be biggest in US history as fear of a nuclear Iran overrides concerns about human rights in Saudi Arabia

As US Congress prepares to approve America's biggest ever arms deal, state department spokesman Philip J Crowley stresses that Washington's priority is stability in the Middle East

The US Congress is poised to give its approval to the biggest arms deal in US history when it signs off on weapons sales to Saudi Arabia worth an estimated $60bn (£39bn).
The sale, under negotiation since 2007, is aimed mainly at bolstering Saudi defences against Iran, which the US suspects will achieve a nuclear weapons capability within the next few years. The transfer of advanced technology, mainly planes, is to provide Saudi Arabia with air superiority over Iran.

The Obama Administration is due to send the deal to Congress in the next fortnight. The Senate and House then have 30 days to amend, cancel or approve the deal. If approved, the Obama administration can then take the final steps towards completing the deal.

Members of Congress have been notoriously difficult in regard to arms deals with Saudi Arabia over the last three decades, partly because of lobbying by Israel in the 1980s and 90s and partly as a reaction to the 9/11 attacks orchestrated by the Saudi-born al-Qaida leader, Osama bin Laden. They have also raised concerns over the lack of human rights and freedom for women in Saudi Arabia. Congress has amended and even blocked arms deals with the Saudis in the past.

But Washington-based analysts say such concerns will be overridden because of the greater worries about Iran.

A US defence official told Reuters today that the US and Saudi Arabia are discussing a package that includes 84 new F-15 fighter jets, upgrading another 70 of them as well as buying 72 Black Hawk helicopters built by Sikorsky Aircraft, a unit of United Technologies Corporation.

The two sides are also discussing a package for the kingdom's navy.
The Saudis have agreed to an initial $30bn in sales, with another $30bn still under discussion. The initial figure to be sent to Congress for review may be $30bn for approval this year.

The deal rivals the al-Yamamah deal between the UK and Saudi Arabia signed in the mid-1980s, one of the biggest in history, worth $66bn in revenue for BAE.
Michael Knights, the Lafer fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, who has written in detail about the deal, predicted today a relatively smooth ride from Congress: "The deal has a much better chance of being approved with limited or no modifications.

First, the preparation for the package has been extensive and prolonged, stretching back to 2007. This has ironed out many potential problems, including significant consultations with the Israelis.

"Second, concern about a nuclear Iran is at an all-time high in Washington, Tel Aviv and Riyadh. Third, much has changed in the defence market since the last major Congressional campaign to block or downgrade a major Saudi arms deal, the 1993 Saudi purchase of F-15s aircraft. Since then, US manufacturers have had to up their game to compete with top-tier European technologies that are provided without limitations."
To help ease passage through Congress, Obama is to put the emphasis on jobs, an important consideration at a time of high unemployment in the US. Members of Congress will not want to be seen endangering jobs, especially in the run-up to November's mid-term Congressional elections.

The White House will stress that an estimated 75,000 jobs in companies such as Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and General Electric will be protected if the deal goes through.

Some of the weapons systems, in particular upgraded weapons systems, are specifically related to the threat posed by Iran. Details have been leaking out in the US media over the last few months, prompting angry denunciations from Tehran.
Israel, an even closer ally of the US than Saudi Arabia, has also expressed concerned over the transfer of advanced technology to Saudi Arabia.

Addressing Israeli concerns, advanced sensors on the new Saudi F-15s will have technology built in to prevent them being used against their Israeli equivalents.
While Israel sees Saudi Arabia as a useful buttress against Iran, there is a fear in Tel Aviv that a rogue Saudi pilot might opt for a suicide mission against Israel. The Israeli air force want to maintain an advantage.

Knights said: "Iran is certainly the only advanced state that Saudi Arabia needs to fear as a credible armed opponent in the next decade. Certain weapon systems like upgraded missile defences are explicitly concerned with Iran. The advanced sensors in the new Saudi F-15s will have fail-safes to prevent their effective use against US aircraft such as the types used by Israel."

The Pentagon neither confirmed nor denied today that a deal is in the offing. A defence department spokesman restated the formal position: "We have not concluded arms sales agreements with Saudi Arabia, and we have not notified Congress of pending sales. The US does partner with multiple countries in the Middle East in our multifaceted approach to regional security and stability. This involves a wide range of activities from training and exercises to military sales."

Congress has a history of being difficult about Saudi Arabia, passing legislation in 1986 to block sales of missiles and missile launchers approved by President Ronald Reagan. The deal finally went through only after Reagan was forced to withdraw Stinger missiles from the package.

In 1990, the administration of George H Bush planned to send Saudi Arabia $20bn in arms but opposition from Congress saw this cut down to $7bn
There is a video, though I can't work out how to embed Guardian vids on here.

Video | $60bn Saudi arms deal: US moves to reassure Israel | World news |

Two points

1) Not quite as big as Al-Yammamah (nya-nya)
2)How much bakseesh to do this deal?


Kit Reviewer
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An addendum:

Arms deal: Saudi Arabia and US put 9/11 behind them

Common strategic interests and pressures of recession have helped US defence sales to the Gulf double in recent years
  • Ian Black
  • Monday 13 September 2010 20.59 BST

A new arms deal is likely to be signed between the US and Saudi Arabia. Photograph: Mido Ahmed/AFP/Getty Images

Arms purchases from the US are central to the Saudi kingdom's strategy of asserting its military leadership in the Gulf and confronting Iranian influence. This US deal includes significant offensive capabilities – thus the repeated warnings from Tehran about it being "destabilising".

In public the Saudis and their partners in the Gulf Cooperation Council support using diplomatic means to tackle Iran's alleged nuclear ambitions, but express greater concern behind closed doors, diplomats say. Iran insists it seeks only civilian nuclear power, not weapons.
Relations between Washington and Riyadh were badly damaged by the 9/11 attacks and the identification of the Saudi origins of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida. But common strategic interests and pressures generated by the arms industry and the recession helped smooth differences. US defence sales to the Gulf doubled from $19bn in 2001-2004 to $40bn in 2005-2008.

It is striking that this deal has met little opposition from the pro-Israeli lobbies, which in the past have worked to prevent the Saudis acquiring advanced equipment. Nowadays Saudi Arabia also supports the Arab peace initiative, which offers to recognise Israel in exchange for a Palestinian state. King Abdullah (with Barack Obama, right) is said to have been convinced of the sincerity of the US commitment to Riyadh and pushed the arms request despite his air force wanting to divide sales between the US and Europe. Recent months have seen mounting tensions between Riyadh and Tehran, with Arab regimes pressing the US to adopt a tougher stance. In a meeting with Hillary Clinton in Riyadh in February, foreign minister Saud al-Faisal stated that the Iranian nuclear threat demands "a more immediate solution" than sanctions. The package reflects the convergence of the strategic views of the US, Israel and conservative Arab states regarding Iran's alleged nuclear ambitions and bid for regional influence. But Saudi Arabia denies reports it has secretly agreed to allow Israeli planes through its airspace if they were sent to bomb nuclear sites in Iran.
Saudis donate arms to Taliban and America's neo-cons gets the war on terror continued everybodys a winner


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Saudis donate arms to Taliban and America's neo-cons gets the war on terror continued everybodys a winner
Genius, Taliban get F-15s, guess we will need to buy more Typhoons then.
Genius, Taliban get F-15s, guess we will need to buy more Typhoons then.
What about the ships they're going to get, I suppose the Taliban will use them in the bath as they have no coastline.......

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