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Saudi Arabia and US cement partnership with massive arms deal.
Moreover, the arms package is “not even that useful in balancing Iran militarily” because Iran is capitalizing on its political relationships with Hezbollah, Hamas and Iraq’s leadership, Gause added. “That’s how they’re spreading their influence in the region.”
However, “if there is one strategic reason to be in favor of this arms sale, it’s our leverage in a proliferation situation,” said Gause.
“If the Iranians do obtain a nuclear capability, Saudi Arabia will face a choice: Do we get one or not?” he explained. The proposed arms deal may make the Saudis more “comfortable with the American security guarantee” and thus give the United States “some leverage, some credibility” when attempting to dissuade Riyadh from going down the same nuclear route as Iran, he added.
Amman-based Mouin Rabbani, an independent writer and analyst specializing in Palestinian affairs, said he sees the arms deal as a way of “solidifying the strategic alliance between the United States and Saudi Arabia” with the “underlying message” that “Iran won’t be able to attack Saudi Arabia without eliciting an American response.”
But Rabbani does not see the arms deal itself fulfilling Saudi defense needs. “I think with all due respect that the people who try to understand the arms purchase on the basis of Saudi military needs fundamentally misunderstand” the situation, he said. “Any military objective is entirely secondary. What this is really about is ... to buy regime security …. Military acquisitions are an important [way of] petrodollar recycling.”
Jeddah-based analyst Eshki said that Saudis are struck by the fact that, unlike in the past, Israel is not objecting to the proposed arms package.
Perhaps, he said, this is “because Israel has two enemies – a wise enemy and a lunatic enemy.”
Since the arms are being sold to Saudi Arabia and not Iran, he added, the Israelis “can accept” the deal.