I found it peculiar when, last month, Saudi Arabia purchased, under the aegis of the Obama administration, 84 Boeing Co. F-15 fighter jets, attack helicopters and helicopters made by United Technologies Corp. (70 Apaches, 72 Black Hawks and 36 Little Birds), satellite-guided bombs and an advanced radar from Raytheon Co..
But one should not be too shocked: according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the U.S. sold, roughly, a combined $37 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait between 2005 and 2009.
Israel has historically been apprehensive about U.S. military sales in the Arab world, especially to Saudi Arabia who, while opposed to the current Ayatolla, Ahmadinejad regime, funds terror and does not recognize the Jewish State; ergo, Israel not showing any opposition, let alone a tantrum over the massive deal is a little strange; especially given that last August, the Obama administration cut funding for Israel’s Arrow 3 program missile defense system (more powerful than the Iron Dome), a project totaling just $108.8m out of the American wallet.
Last week, the Washington Post reported:
“According to the military, Boeing – maker of the F-15, the Apaches and the Little Birds – has estimated that the purchase would involve 77,000 direct and indirect jobs in 44 states. Some of those would be jobs that would be kept, but an unspecified number of new jobs would also be generated, officials said.”
“Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace industry analyst at the Teal Group in Fairfax, said the overseas weapons market has become more active in recent years. Last year, the U.S. exported $3.2 billion in combat aircraft overseas, up from $2.4 billion in 2008. Among the biggest buyers in 2009 were Singapore for $1 billion worth of F-15 aircraft; Greece and Poland, receiving $1.9 billion worth of F-16s; and Australia, receiving $200 million worth of F-18s.”
The word on the street was that America contacted Israel first, (about the recent Saudi sale) who gave the thumbs up. Spokesman of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, Jonathan Peled said that while the Jewish Country is not “thrilled” by the proposal, it has not requested such actions as congressional hearings or assurances.
But if Israel does not have an EVEN WORSE taste in its mouth from the sale, some American politicians do. As far as domestic opposition to the deal, an article in Bloomberg News reported that a letter was put into circulation on the hill, for the signature of lawmakers. Composed by top Democrat and Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the letter stresses the danger of the deal – though stops short at pleading the need to nullify the $60 billion transaction.
The letter was written by California Democrat Howard Berman and Florida Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and is addressed to Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary, Robert Gates.
The lawmakers raise “the potential repercussions for our friends and for our own forces in the region in the event of political change in Saudi Arabia,” saying:
“We have serious concerns about the nature of Saudi involvement in the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, particularly since the Saudis have failed to take steps toward normalization of relations with Israel or to augment their financial support to the Palestinian Authority.”
The letter inquires how thoroughly the Pentagon and the State Department have considered the sale’s effect on U.S. policies in the Middle East, specifically the righteous goal of securing Israel’s “qualitative military edge” over its neighbors; a winning goal for American security too.
The two lawmakers cite a report by the Government Accountability Office, concluding the Departments of State and Defense:
“Did not consistently document how arms transfers to gulf countries advanced U.S. foreign policy and national security goals.”
The Saudi F-15 package reportedly does not include arms that could pose a serious threat, like weapons which can be fired from long distances, threatening thereby little Israel. The arrival of F-15s to Saudi Arabia would not begin until 2015, the same year Israel is slated to commence the reception of F-35s.
At the time the deal was announced, Andrew Shapiro of the U.S. State Department said the sale would:
“Protect (Saudi) security in a dangerous neighborhood against legitimate security threats.”
Ros-Lehtinen and Berman, in the letter, ask what Saudi Arabia has done to quell Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. The lawmakers cite potential Saudi “leverage in the international oil market to diminish Iran’s oil revenue” as well as actions to stem financing for terrorism or reduce the spread of nuclear-weapons technology.
Congress has until November 20th to prevent the sale before the Defense Department and companies proceed with more detailed talks on contracts.
Other Notes of Interest:
And last month, number two in the House Republican leadership, Eric Cantor of Virginia proposed that when the GOP wins control of the House – and now they have – they should move Israel’s financial aid package and add it to the Pentagon’s budget.
Writes C. Hart of American Thinker:
“House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, a staunch supporter of Israel, will become House Majority Leader in the next Congress. He will be holding the highest ranking post a Jew has ever held in Congress. His actions will, most likely, focus on giving less U.S. military support to Saudi Arabia. The United States recently approved $60 billion in weapons sales to the Saudis, which only hinders Israel’s qualitative military edge in the Middle East over Arab States. The sale is expected to be the largest in U.S. history if all purchases are made by Saudi Arabia. Ros-Lehtinen has already spoken out against the sale.”
“According to The Israel Project (TIP), Cantor has also cosponsored legislation that would end U.S. taxpayer aid to the Palestinian Authority until it stops its culture of hate toward Israel. He also wants to see an end to unauthorized WAQF excavations of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which are encouraged and supported by the Palestinian Authority.”
The Bibi and Biden Show:
Meanwhile, Israel PM, Binyamin Netanyahu of the Likud party is in America this week. First, D.C., to recall the nostalgic stench of a Republican majority House and then New York for a corned beef on rye at Katz’s Deli.
A source who was present at the meeting in Washington reported that Bibi told Biden:
“The only way to ensure that Iran will not go nuclear is to create a credible threat of military action against it if it doesn’t cease its race for a nuclear weapon…The economic sanctions are making it difficult for Iran, but there is no sign that the Ayatollah regime plans to stop its nuclear program because of them.”
Bibi will not be meeting with the American president this time, who is currently abroad on diplomatic duties.