BASIC calls for suspension of US arms sales and military assistance to the Persian Gulf and Middle East

The proposed sales would support authoritarian governments in the Arab world

The proposed arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states represent a continuation of traditional US policy of support for authoritarian governments in the Arab world, which President Bush previously said the US was abandoning, says a new BASIC study released today. From the Frying Pan into the Fire concludes that the US Congress should assert its prerogative to halt the proposed weapons sale to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States until an objective assessment of the purported Iranian threat can be produced by the Gulf States.

One rarely mentioned danger of the deal is that it will confirm one of Al Qaeda\’s talking points. “US American contractors will train, maintain and even operate the new Saudi equipment. Most likely some American military personnel will follow. This will do nothing for bolstering American security but it will renew the cycle of American penetration into the heart of Islam, one of Osama bin Laden\’s original and most compelling rallying points.” said the paper\’s author, David Isenberg, BASIC Senior Analyst.

The paper examines the prospective arms sales deals and new military assistance programs in the Persian Gulf and Middle East region that will likely total about billion. Although the details of the sales have yet to be finalized and presented to Congress for approval, even by the standard of past arms sales to the Middle East and Persian Gulf, traditionally, one of the world\’s largest arms buying regions, these are major arms transfers with the potential to significantly affect the regional strategic balance.

In releasing the study, BASIC Co-Executive Director Steven Monblatt said:

If the Iranian “threat” is found to be lacking in substance and the plans for integrating the weapons are found insufficient Congress should move to block the sales, using its power under the Arms Control Export Act. Similarly, if these reports indicate that the arms transfers are not in keeping with the principles contained in the draft International Arms Trade Treaty, which the United States has thus far chosen not to support, then Congress should also apply a veto.

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