Theodore's World: New US Weapons Sale for Saudis

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January 15, 2008

New US Weapons Sale for Saudis

King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud and George W. Bush

New US Weapons Sale for Saudis



The Democratic-led Congress is unlikely to block U.S. plans to sell $123 million worth of sophisticated precision-guided bomb technology to Saudi Arabia, despite concerns from some members that the systems could be used against Israel.

The Bush administration on Monday notified Congress of its intent to sell the bomb-delivery systems as part of a multibillion-dollar arms package to bolster the defense of U.S. allies in the Gulf.

Rep. Tom Lantos, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, does not intend to consider a resolution of disapproval, said spokeswoman Lynne Weil. Otherwise, Lantos declined to comment.

The arms deal creates a dilemma for lawmakers, especially for Democrats eager to challenge President Bush's handling of foreign policy. At the same time, they see Saudi Arabia's cooperation as crucial to the war on terror and in deterring aggression from Iran.

"We need to be convinced that the sale makes sense militarily and ensure that it in no way harms our security or those of our allies," said Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "We must also make certain that the administration does not just try to use a few arms sales to substitute for the comprehensive, coherent strategy we need for the region."

Timed to coincide with Bush's trip to Saudi Arabia, the notification opens a 30-day window during which lawmakers can object to the sale, which envisions the transfer of 900 Joint Direct Attack Munitions, or JDAMs, to the Saudis, the State Department said.

The proposed deal follows notification on five other packages to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, and brings to $11.5 billion the amount of advanced U.S. weaponry, including Patriot missiles, provided to friendly Arab nations under the Gulf Security Dialogue, spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.

Administration officials say the total amount of sales as part of the dialogue is estimated at $20 billion, but they also have cautioned that the figure is subject to what equipment the receiving countries actually purchase.

The sale is a key element in the U.S. strategy to bolster the defenses of its Arab allies in Saudi Arabia and other oil-producing majority Sunni Muslim Gulf nations against threats from Shiite Iran.

A principal aim of Bush's Mideast visit is to convince the Saudi leadership as well as those in Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates that he remains committed to preventing Iran from destabilizing the region, despite U.S. intelligence findings that Tehran halted its nuclear weapons development in 2003.

Congress has already been briefed on the entire Gulf Security Dialogue arms package, which includes the sale of the Navy's Littoral Combat system as well as the JDAMs kits. During these meetings, the administration assured lawmakers that there would be proper restrictions on the JDAMs sale to ensure that the weapon would not pose a threat to Israel.

"We've spent a lot of time ensuring that we abide by our commitments to a qualitative military edge for Israel," McCormack said. "We are committed to maintaining that qualitative military edge for Israel."

Members who still oppose it say they are concerned it would give Saudi Arabia a technical edge that could be used to attack Israel.

Democratic Reps. Anthony Weiner of New York and Robert Wexler of Florida said they will push for a resolution condemning the sale. Their resolution already has some three dozen co-sponsors.

"It's mind-bogglingly bad policy because the Saudis at every turn have been uncooperative" regarding U.S. interests in the Middle East, Weiner said in a statement on Monday.

At least one Republican, who previously registered his concerns with the deal, said he wasn't ready to support the deal just yet.

"The administration must guarantee to Congress' satisfaction that selling JDAMs to Saudi Arabia will not harm U.S. forces or our democratic ally Israel," said Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Ill. "At this time, I do not have enough information to support the sale."

Still, senior congressional aides said it was considered unlikely that the required two-thirds majority in Congress could be found to stop the sale.

Mark Regev, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said the Israeli government would not comment on the arms deal.

Previously, Israel has indicated it does not oppose the deal and Washington plans to counterbalance the sales to Arab nations with $30 billion in military assistance to the Jewish state — a more than 25 percent increase over the next 10 years.

Notifications to Congress of specific transactions are made in "piecemeal" fashion, McCormack said. He added that the 30-day deadline for lawmakers to raise opposition to the previous five sales had passed.

The five earlier agreements included two sales to the United Arab Emirates for a Patriot missile system and support for an airborne early warning system; one to Kuwait for Patriot missile system upgrades and two to Saudi Arabia for "targeting pods" and upgrades to AWACs airborne warning and control aircraft.

Wild Thing's comment........

Arming the Saudis with anything more advanced than slingshots does not appeal to me.

Bush is in legacy mode....desperate to salvage his Roadmap full of Potholes.

Posted by Wild Thing at January 15, 2008 02:47 AM


Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud ... Holy Shitte; his underwear name stamp must be huge.

Posted by: Steve bin Bad @$$ al-Marine at January 15, 2008 07:09 AM

Seems Bush wants to make sure that Israel gives back that "Arab" land one way or another.

Posted by: BobF at January 15, 2008 07:41 AM

Darth - that's Holy Sunni!!

Bush is nuts! There he goes throwing money around some more while presenting a confusing policy. And probably holding hands again with the guy with all the A's, L's and Z's in his name. Frigg'n crazy!!

I wonder how much in money, esteem and policy this MidEast trip has cost us.

Posted by: TomR at January 15, 2008 08:45 AM

The Bush administration is worried about public safety because of Firearms in the hands of pirvate citizens ?

Yet Jorge turns around and sells weapons to an enemy who will help destroy our greatest ally in the middleeast ? This is for more Oil ?

Why not just sell the Weapons to Al Quaeda and save the middle man.

We are on the fast track to nowhere.

Posted by: Mark at January 15, 2008 10:20 AM

Amen Mark. The magic kingdom has doomed itself, without the U.S. propping up the sorry ragheads they'd be out loping their camels and picking threw their own dungheaps looking for allah. The so called royals are so corrupt they can't survive without out side support to protect them. Deliver those weapons to Medina and Mecca via air drop with radiant energy attachments. As BT in SA states above, their hypocrisy stinks to high heaven, I've been on the road with them and trust me, they can drink with the best of us, and once out of sight of the muttawah they have all the faults and more that we mere infidels have. Past examples include the Hussein family and their excesses, the difference being we overlook that if we have something to gain, we appease for oil.

Posted by: Jack at January 15, 2008 02:09 PM

We armed Iran with some of the most advanced weaponry we had back in the 70's, to include F-14 Tomcats. All that weaponry wound up in the hands of Islamic Radicals. The Iranian weapons being used in Iraq is a result of this. It doesn't take them long to take something apart to figure out what makes it tick.

Posted by: BobF at January 15, 2008 02:32 PM

BobF - or the Chinese or Russians figure it out for them as all parties enjoy our technology, sold to 3rd World iffy allies for political purposes.

Posted by: TomR at January 15, 2008 04:05 PM

Wonder how long it will be before these weapons are pointed back at us?

Posted by: Rick at January 15, 2008 06:53 PM

I have no problem "giving" the Saudi's precision guided bombs just as long as they are received at the end of a trajectory after launch.

Posted by: Les at January 15, 2008 09:57 PM

Steve bin Bad @$$ al-Marine, LMAO oh my gawd that is so funny.

Posted by: Wild Thing at January 16, 2008 12:16 AM

Bob it seems so, one way or another Bush wants to play realator your right.

Posted by: Wild Thing at January 16, 2008 12:18 AM

Tom, yesss that holding hands thing, why do our guys have to do their customs, they don't do our when they come here. I mean can't our men draw the line at walking and holding hands with them. hahahha yuk

Posted by: Wild Thing at January 16, 2008 12:20 AM

Mark, I agree!......

"Why not just sell the Weapons to Al Quaeda and save the middle man.".....

Now that would save a lot of expense, oh wait, I have an idea. How about in their order we have time tab release thingie's that go BOOM when they open their order. Viola no more Al Queda.

Posted by: Wild Thing at January 16, 2008 12:24 AM

Jack, I agree, and that is a good example too, the Hussein family.

Posted by: Wild Thing at January 16, 2008 12:41 AM

Bob yes, like now too, I am glad the insurgents are turning people in and wanting to help our troops get the Alk Quada but I pray very hard our troops don't trust these people because they are Never ever to be trusted and will turn on a dime.

Posted by: Wild Thing at January 16, 2008 12:48 AM

Rick I agree, it is a reality that will happen too.

Posted by: Wild Thing at January 16, 2008 12:49 AM

Les, heh heh good one.

Posted by: Wild Thing at January 16, 2008 12:50 AM

"Bush is in legacy mode...."
Exactly just becareful of what and who he starts to sell out.

Posted by: DD2 at January 16, 2008 09:21 AM

Bush tells the Jews to give up Gaza and then $ELL$ billions of arms to the Saudis? The 9-11-01
hijackers (19) were from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt and Kuwait.... W forgets ~AA11~ and ~UF175~ and ~AA77~ and ~UF93~, and 2,996 slaughtered Americans in NY, VA and PA! Of which, 1,000 do not have graves to eternally rest in... The man I voted for in 2000 and 2004 in one pathetic Limp Duck!!!

Posted by: darthcrUSAderworldtour07 at January 17, 2008 12:53 AM