New arms deal meant to counter Iran or make money?

July 31, 2007 - 0:0

The United States recently offered Saudi Arabia a $20 billion, 10-year arms sales package.

Washington claims the proposed sale is intended to upgrade the Saudi military’s ability to counter possible Iranian aggression in the Persian Gulf region.
“This is all about Iran,” a U.S. official told CNN on condition of anonymity.
The major powers are seeking to spark arms races between countries to earn profits and create jobs at home.
The best customers are affluent Arab countries in the Middle East, which have become fat on high oil prices.
The U.S. is attempting to recover some of the money it has spent importing oil and funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The portrayal of Iran as a threat to neighboring Arab states, and particularly Saudi Arabia, is very hard to swallow. Saudi Arabia also does not view Iran as a threat.
Saudi and Iranian officials address each other as “brotherly” countries and hug each other when they meet.
Iran has been a major regional power for millennia and all regional Arab states acknowledge this fact.
To demonstrate its principled policy of establishing close relations with its southern neighbors, Iran has been developing and strengthening ties with them and has even overlooked the fact that they gave about $100 billion in financial assistance to Saddam Hussein’s Baath regime during its eight-year war against Iran.
Iran and the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) states are linked by regional, cultural, and economic interests, and thus Iran would never antagonize its neighbors.
About half a million Iranians visit Saudi Arabia annually as hajj and umra pilgrims and funnel hundreds of millions of dollars into the Saudi economy.
Iran is also the biggest regional trade partner of the United Arab Emirates. Iranians have invested about $300 billion in the UAE and thousands of Iranian nationals live in the country.
Iran has even proposed establishing a common security pact with the PGCC members -- Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman. Tehran has also floated the idea of creating an Iran-PGCC nuclear consortium for enriching uranium since the PGCC states want to develop nuclear energy as an alternative to fossil fuels.
Iran is a potential rival of the U.S. in the region, but not a rival of Saudi Arabia and its other neighbors, which is something that U.S. officials are well aware of.
It would be more accurate to say that the Saudi kingdom is more nervous about the instability created by the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the United States’ blind support of Israel than the rising military might of Iran.
No one has forgotten last summer’s Israel-Lebanon war, when the U.S. airlifted sophisticated weapons to Israel and blocked a UN Security Council call for an immediate ceasefire. During the war, the Saudi government poured 1 billion dollars into Lebanese banks to prevent an economic collapse. The war was in a sense a proxy war between Arab states and the U.S.
So, if Saudi Arabia is interested in buying weapons like satellite-guided missiles from the U.S., it most probably wants to counter Israel’s sophisticated weaponry.
On the other hand, the U.S. is trying to start an arms race to sell more arms and recoup it losses from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and is just using the argument that Iran is a threat to its Persian Gulf neighbors to facilitate the proposed arms deal