Saturday, July 28, 2007

I sing of Arms and the Man: Middle Eastern Arms Sales

Talk about strange bedfellows, Israel is now arming Fatah against Hamas, according to Al Jazeera.

The US is also saying that it will sell $20 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia. Interestingly, Israel apparently approves of the arms sales.

Debka has some interesting analysis about how the Saudi's figure into the US plans for a strategic theatre defense against those evil Persians.
The function assigned Saudi air fighters in the integrated US defense program is to take on the Iranian air force in an emergency, and prevent its antiquated, low-performance air force from providing support for Iranian naval forces and Iranian marines and saboteurs, should they attempt to seize territory in the Arab emirates.

Iran is known to command 600 bomber-fighters in operating condition...

The Saudi air force, with 350 warplanes organized in 17 squadrons, is much smaller than Iran’s and not much more advanced...Washington plans to double the Saudi combat air fleet, by selling the kingdom front-line fighters, including F-16 C and D and F-15 E - or even possibly the F-22 Raptor stealth plane, to which Israel is strongly opposed, although most Saudi Arabian operational aircraft are piloted by Western aviators, some American....

Since April 18, when deputy secretary of state David Satterfield met King Abdullah in Riyadh and they went through the list of hardware on sale - marking down the king’s comments against each item - things have changed in US-Arabian relations; so too has the nature of the Iranian military menace hanging over Saudi Arabia, the Gulf and the Middle East.

These changes are marked in four aspects:

1. Washington and Riyadh are at odds on Iraq. In the beginning, the Americans approved of Saudi financial assistance to Iraqi insurgent groups to give them an incentive to pull away from al Qaeda. In recent weeks, however, the Saudis are equally active in undermining the Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, calling him an Iran’s agent. This has brought the oil kingdom in direct conflict with the Bush policy.

2. A similar conflict has developed on the Palestinian question. King Abdullah strongly disapproves of US-Israeli backing for the Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad and imposition of an economic boycott against Hamas to overturn its rule in Gaza. The Saudis strongly advocate Palestinian reconciliation, unification of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and acceptance of Hamas as a dominant factor in shaping Palestinian destiny.

3. As oil prices roar towards $80 - and the price of $100 not too far over the horizon - the Bush administration is increasingly critical of Abdullah’s refusal to raise sustained capacity production past its permanent 2.1 million barrels per day. If only Riyadh would relent, they say, world markets would be reassured and demand would cool.

4. Responding to the Bush administration’s Gulf plans for the Saudi air force and Bush’s plan to maintain a post-withdrawal military presence in Iraq, Russian president Vladimir Putin has stepped in with a move of his own: the sale of 250 long-range SU-30MKM fighter-bombers to Iran...

|America Refurbishes its Gulf-Red Sea Defenses against Iran Menace - Debka|

I'm always a bit skeptical of Debka's analysis and quite often they end up being totally wrong, but their analysis is always provocative.

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