Officials in the United States have sought to reassure Israel that
the $29.4 billion sale of fighter jets to Saudi Arabia will boost
Israeli security in the region, the
Wall Street Journal
According to the report, Assistant Secretary of State for Political
Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro told Israel from Washington that the
sale, which includes 84 new F-15 fighter jets, will not affect
Israel's "qualitative military edge."
The United States was confident that the Saudi purchase would
benefit Israeli security by "bolstering moderate allies in the Gulf,"
especially in light of Israel and the Gulf country's shared beliefs
about the need to curb the influence of Iran.
Officials in Jerusalem have not
officially responded to the sale.
The United States announced Thursday that it will sell $29.4 billion
in fighter jets to Saudi Arabia, in a deal the White House said
would support more than 50,000 jobs and help reinforce regional
security in the Gulf amid mounting tension with Iran.
The sale covers 84 new Boeing F-15 fighters with advanced radar
equipment and digital electronic warfare systems plus
of 70 older F-15s as
well as munitions, spare parts, training, maintenance and logistics.
While the sale was previously okayed by Congress, the White House
announcement comes at a moment of rising tensions in the Gulf region.
Both the United States and Saudi Arabia, which sees Iran as a
significant potential threat, are worried over Iran's nuclear
program. Iranian officials this week repeated threats to close the
Strait of Hormuz in response to mounting US and European economic
The sale also comes as President Barack Obama prepares to accelerate
his campaign for reelection in November 2012, a campaign likely to
be fought over the US economy
A White House spokesman said the Saudi arms sales would give the US
economy a $3.5 billion annual boost and help bolster exports
The Obama administration cleared with Congress more than a year ago
the potential sale of more than $60 billion of military hardware to
Saudi Arabia over 10 to 15 years, including the F-15s, helicopters
and related equipment and services.
The Saudi buildup, part of a wider US buildup of its regional
friends and allies, could help offset the departure this month of
the last US combat troops in Iraq.
In a statement released in Honolulu, where Obama is vacationing,
White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said the kingdom had
an important role to play
keeping watch over the region, which has also seen protests and
political turmoil in Yemen.