Obama Prepares Largest Arms Sale Ever…to Saudi Arabia

Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Barack Obama with Saudi King Abdullah
Selling $60 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia is a win-win deal, according to the Obama administration. The largest weapons deal ever by the U.S. would create more than 70,000 jobs for the stumbling U.S. economy, and it would strengthen ties with a key American ally, and possibly other Arab countries, while trying to shore up U.S. policy against Iran in the Persian Gulf. Some Israelis, however, are concerned that the weapons could be turned in another direction.
The $60 billion package would include 84 new F-15 fighters, as well as another 70 existing ones that would be upgraded, and three types of helicopters—70 Apaches, 72 Black Hawks and 36 Little Birds.
Furthermore, the administration wants to sell the Saudis another $30 billion in ships and hardware to upgrade the kingdom’s naval forces.
And there’s talk of selling Saudi Arabia the Terminal High Altitude Defense (THAAD) missile defense system to replace existing Patriot missiles intended to protect against an Iranian missile attack.
The Obama administration also may pushing the lucrative deal with Saudi Arabia to make up for last year’s downturn in global arms sales. While the U.S. maintained its standing as the No. 1 dealer of weapons around the world, it nonetheless saw a considerable drop in revenue from such sales, from $38.1 billion in 2008 to $22.6 billion in 2009. This still represented 39% of the world total.
Although Saudi Arabia’s vast oil reserves have secured its good relations with every president, Democratic and Republican, since the days of Franklin Roosevelt, the Saudi royal family continues to run one of the most repressive and undemocratic dictatorships in the world.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Saudi Arms Deal Advances (by Adam Entous, Wall Street Journal)
Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2002-2009 (by Richard F. Grimmett, Congressional Research Service) (pdf)
Bad Economy Drives Down American Arms Sales (by Thom Shanker, New York Times)


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