Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Another Approach to Iran: Bolster Saudi Arabia's Defenses

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) meets with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington June 29, 2010.    REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Photo by Larry Downing. Content © 2010 Reuters All rights reserved.
Andrew Gonyea
Communications Assistant

With Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons still at the forefront of U.S. national security concerns, the Obama administration and its European partners are continuing on with a fresh round of sanctions and have declared the existence of a contingency strike plan in the hopes of getting Tehran to return to the bargaining table. To augment its multipronged approach, ROA also urges the Administration and Congress to force publicly-traded companies in the United States to disclose trade relationships with Iran, and advocates divestment of Iranian assests from portfolios to discourage nuclear weapon development by Iran.

A less publicized strategy to counter Iran is a $60 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, set to be announced by DoD when Congress returns from its summer recess after Labor Day. The sale is part of a strategy first seen in the George W. Bush administration to bolster the militaries of Arab allies. Saudi Arabia, a Sunni country and the birthplace of Islam, is a natural rival to predominantly Shia Iran, and it has become a top weapons buyer, spending $36.7 billion worldwide on arms between 2001 and 2008.

According to a Washington Institute for Near East Policy report, the proposed sale to Saudi Arabia includes the following:
  • Eighty-four new Boeing F-15 combat aircraft to replace aging F-15C and F-15D air defense variants purchased between 1978 and 1992.
  • Upgrades for seventy F-15S strike variants, potentially including advanced long-range munitions for the aircraft.
  • Seventy-two United Technologies Corporation UH-60 helicopters, to add to the twenty-two helicopters of the same type now held by the Saudis. Sixty Boeing AH-64D Longbow Apaches and upgrades to Saudi's twelve current AH-64A Apaches may also be included.
  • Up to $5 billion in advanced, helicopter-carrying offshore patrol vessels.
  • Upgrades to Saudi Arabia's ninety-six U.S.-supplied Raytheon Patriot Advanced Capability 2 missiles.
  • Riyadh is also considering large purchases of American transport aircraft, tanker aircraft, maritime patrol aircraft, and the replacement of its U.S.-supplied F-15s.
The Obama administration has also moved to sell sophisticated arms to the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf states, and to shore up the Lebanese Army against Iranian-backed Hezbollah.

Another U.S. goal is for Saudi Arabia to use its increasing military-to-military ties with other states, including Russia and China, to establish political leverage and discourage those countries' arms deals with Iran.

The arms deal with Saudi Arabia is yet another indication of U.S. efforts to pressure Iran on all fronts moving forward.

No comments: