debkafile Reports: Congressmen maintain US sale of sophisticated precision-guided bomb technology gives Saudis edge over Israel

During his visit to Riyadh Jan. 14, US president George Bush notified Congress of his intention to transfer to Saudi Arabia 900 Joint Direct Attack Munitions – JDAMs – as part of a multimillion arms package to US Gulf allies.
Some Congress members are concerned it would give the Saudis a qualitative military edge that could be used to attack Israel. They have a 30-day window to object. Republican Rep. Mark Kirk of Illinois said: “The administration must guarantee to Congress’ satisfaction that selling JDAMs to Saudi Arabia will not harm US forces or our democratic ally Israel.”
Democratic Reps Anthony Weiner of New York and Robert Wexler of Florida said they will push for a resolution condemning the sale: “It’s mind-bogglingly bad policy because the Saudis at every turn have been uncooperative,” regarding US interests in the Middle East, they said.
debkafile‘s military sources add: US-Saudi policy differences are extensive. They range from arguments over the war on terror, the continuation of private Saudi financing for Islamist terrorists, the passage of young Saudi extremists to Iraq, the al Qaeda strongholds building up in Lebanon as well as cells in Syria, the oil kingdom’s continued support of the Palestinian Hamas terrorists and push for their reconciliation with Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah. The Saudis seek to restore a Palestinian unity government against Washington’s will.
President Bush arrived in Riyadh Monday to hear a sharp public demand from interior minister Prince Nayef to free the Saudi inmates of Guantanamo Bay detention camp forthwith.
debkafile‘s Gulf sources report: The Gulf states, striving to diversify their weapons suppliers, are confronting US arms industries with strong competition from Russia and France. The Bush administration aims to highlight those nations’ dependence on American high-tech weaponry.
Regarding the JDAMs sale to Saudi Arabia, Mark Regev, a spokesman for Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, said the Israeli government would not comment on the deal. Behind the scenes, Israel is lobbying to block the sale of sophisticated American hardware which, though presented as boosting Saudi defenses against Iran, could well be turned against Israel.
Previously, Washington announced it would counterbalance sales to Arab nations with $30 bn in military assistance to Israel.

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