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Terrorism & Security

Eyeing Iran, US details $60 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia

Israel is unlikely to object to the arms sale of up to 84 new F-15s and 1,000 'bunker-buster bombs' to Saudi Arabia that analysts say is meant to counter Iranian influence in the Middle East.

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The Jerusalem Post reports that Israel is not expected to object to the arms deal, despite some reservations, as it does not threaten Israel's military advantage in the Middle East. However, Israel is "not thrilled about it," said spokesman Jonathan Peled of the Israeli Embassy in Washington.

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But US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Colin Kahl said the deal doesn't include "the types of systems the Israelis would be most concerned about," i.e. long-range weapons that could potentially be used against Israel. The arrival of F-15s to Saudi Arabia would not begin until 2015, the same year Israel is slated to begin receiving more-advanced F-35s.

In addition, the arms sale is also meant to bolster Saudi Arabia against other threats to regional stability. During the announcement of the deal, Andrew Shapiro of the US State Department said that the sale would "protect [Saudi] security in a dangerous neighborhood against legitimate security threats."

Dr. Theodore Karasik of the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai told The Christian Science Monitor earlier this month that US military allies in the Middle East "face a number of state and nonstate threats." Dr. Karasik noted as an example that Saudi forces have clashed with Houthi rebels along the Yemen-Saudi border, and that the helicopters provided in the arms sale could strengthen the Saudis there.

According to the US Government Accountability Office, the US sold up to $37 billion in arms to Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait from 2005 to 2009.

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