US Saudi arms package faces fight in Congress




A coalition of 188 members of the House of Representatives warned that if the technology fell into the "wrong hands" it could harm US forces in the Middle East and threaten Israel.

"Any sale of JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) technology to Saudi Arabia must come with guarantees backed by strict conditions notified to Congress followed by regular reporting," the lawmakers said in a letter to President George W. Bush.

They also called for tight congressional oversight of the sale, and intense US consultations with key US ally Israel.

The New York Times reported in April that the US-Gulf arms package had been delayed because of Israeli concerns over the sale to Saudi Arabia of certain precision guided munitions.

"Saudi Arabia remains in a formal state of war with Israel — the preeminent democracy in the Middle East," the members of congress wrote in the letter.

"Additionally, Saudi groups continue to export Wahabi extremist ideology throughout the world — an anti-American ideology we face on battlefields of the Global War on Terror."

The letter was coordinated by Republican congressman Mark Kirk and Democrat Christopher Carney, and contained the signatures of members of both parties.

The Saudi arms package is part of a huge weapons sale to US allies in the Middle East and Gulf regions announced in July aimed at countering Al-Qaeda, Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group and arch-enemies Iran and Syria.

The bonanza includes a package worth 13 billion dollars for Egypt, and reportedly arms deals worth at least 20 billion dollars for other Gulf allies.

In August, the United States signed a deal with key ally Israel to boost its military aid to 30 billion dollars over the next decade.


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