Saudi promises aren’t worth a plugged nickel.

By Ted Belman

The NYT today reports U.S. Set to Offer Huge Arms Deal to Saudi Arabia some $20 billion in all. It doesn’t say who’s paying for it.

Critics argue that “Saudis are playing a counterproductive role in Iraq.”

The officials said the plan to bolster the militaries of Persian Gulf countries is part of an American strategy to contain the growing power of Iran in the region and to demonstrate that, no matter what happens in Iraq, Washington remains committed to its longtime Arab allies. Officials from the State Department and the Pentagon agreed to outline the terms of the deal after some details emerged from closed briefings this week on Capitol Hill.

The officials said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who are to make a joint visit to Saudi Arabia next week, still intended to use the trip to press the Saudis to do more to help Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government.

[..] More specifically, the official said, the United States wants the gulf states to make clear to Sunnis engaged in violence in Iraq that such actions are “killing your future.”

To my mind this is a tough sell. Why would the Saudis want to support the establishment of a Shiite state next door when it has a restive Shia population itself. The US continues to believe that Shia and Sunnis can get along.

In addition to promising an increase in American military aid to Israel, the Pentagon is seeking to ease Israel’s concerns over the proposed weapons sales to Saudi Arabia by asking the Saudis to accept restrictions on the range, size and location of the satellite-guided bombs, including a commitment not to store the weapons at air bases close to Israeli territory, the officials said.

Didn’t they sell us this bridge before. Jewish Virtual Library reminds us in Potential Threats To Israel: Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has reportedly transferred much of its advanced F-15 fighter-jet fleet to the Tabuk air base in violation of the kingdom’s promises not to do so. As part of the Carter Administration’s effort to persuade Congress to approve the controversial sale of F-15s to the Saudis in 1978, U.S. Secretary of Defense Harold Brown said in a letter to Congress that the planes would be based elsewhere in part because they would be too vulnerable at Tabuk.

Then there was the matter of US support for Saudi Arabia being admitted into the WTO. That time the Saudis promised to end the boycott of Israel. It violated that promise with out penalty or even censure.

July 28, 2007 | Comments Off on Saudi promises aren’t worth a plugged nickel.

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