US plans massive arms deal for Saudis
Congress will be asked by the Bush Administration to approve $20 billion in advanced weapons and planes for Saudi Arabia, at the same time that Israel, along with Congress, are nervous about Saudi Arabia's role in the war effort, the New York Times will report Saturday.
The US hopes to have assuaged this by offering Israel an aid package totaling $30.4 billion over the next ten years.
But administration officials remain concerned that the size of the package and the advanced weaponry it contains, as well as broader concerns about Saudi Arabia's role in Iraq, could prompt Saudi critics in Congress to oppose the package when Congress is formally notified about the deal this fall. In talks about the package, the administration has not sought specific assurances from Saudi Arabia that it will be more supportive of the U.S. effort in Iraq as a condition of receiving the arms package, the officials said.
The officials said the plan to bolster the militaries of Persian Gulf countries is part of a U.S. 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 in the region.
"The role of the Sunni Arab neighbors is to send a positive, affirmative message to moderates in Iraq in government that the neighbors are with you," a senior State Department official told reporters in a conference call on Friday. More specifically, the official said, the United States wants the Gulf states to make clear to Sunni Arabs engaged in violence in Iraq that such actions are "killing your future."
The entire New York Times article can be read HERE.