ZOA: Bush Administration Is Wrong To Seek $20 Billion Arms Sale To Jihad-Supporting Saudis
July 31, 2007

Bush Admin. won’t sell Israel new stealth bomber

New York – The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has described as “deeply mistaken” plans announced by the Bush Administration to conclude a $20 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia on account of continuing Saudi support for Islamists waging jihad against Israel and the West, its lavishing of funds on Islamist institutions disseminating hatred of Jews and other non-Muslims and rewarding suicide bombers who murder Israelis. The arms package is expected to include Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) — a low-cost guidance kit that converts existing unguided free-fall bombs into accurately guided “smart” weapons.

The arms package for Saudi Arabia would also include satellite-guided bombs. Israeli defense establishment officials have warned that the sale of satellite-guided missiles to Saudi Arabia has the potential to constitute a strategic threat to the state of Israel. According to these experts, these advanced weapons would grant Saudi Arabia the capability to accurately fire missiles at strategic sites and installations in southern Israel.

A senior Israeli Defense Ministry official has disclosed that “We do not have a way to defend ourselves against this weapon.” The official also warned that the Saudi regime could be toppled and the advanced American weaponry fall into the hands of worse extremists. Senior defense officials also said that the JDAM sale to Saudi Arabia was still enough to destabilize the strategic military balance in the Middle East (Jerusalem Post, July 30).

Discussions last month in Washington between an Israeli Defense Ministry delegation, led by Defense Ministry Diplomatic-Military Bureau head Amos Gilad and Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan, head of the IDF Planning Directorate, and Pentagon officials to see if the package could be changed left the Israelis dissatisfied. Further, an Israeli request to acquire the F-22 stealth bomber — a plane that can avoid radar detection — in order to retain Israel’s qualitative edge was also turned down. Another Israeli official said that “We were told that the plane’s sale was currently off the table … It does not look like that will change under this administration.”

The proposed arms package also includes a 25% increase in U.S. military aid, from an annual $2.4 billion to $3 billion a year, guaranteed for 10 years, plus an additional $13 billion for Egypt in the same period. Members of Congress vowed yesterday to oppose any deal to Saudi Arabia on grounds that the kingdom has been unhelpful in Iraq and unreliable at fighting terrorism. King Abdullah has called the U.S . military presence in Iraq an “illegitimate occupation,” and the Saudis have been either unable or unwilling to stop suicide bombers who have ended up in Iraq.

New York Sun journalist Youssef Ibrahim reports that “Senior American officials expressing ‘frustration with the Saudi government’ and accusing it of both ‘significant efforts to undermine the Iraqi government’ and ‘obstructing a number of other American foreign policy initiatives.’” Ibrahim also notes that the 1987 founding of the terrorist group Hamas, whose leaders once resided in Saudi Arabia, was overwhelmingly a Saudi-financed project undertaken by Islamic charities, including those of Sulaiman Al-Rajhi, a reclusive Saudi octogenarian with a personal fortune of $12 billion and his own Islamic bank with 500 branches in Saudi Arabia and a few more around the Muslim world. According to the CIA, Mr. Rajhi’s organizations have acted as conduits, financiers, and facilitators for a wide variety of Islamic terror groups — from al-Qaeda to Hamas — for about 20 years now. Also, half the terrorists killed by the Lebanese army in the ongoing siege at the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp in Lebanon, which began in May, have turned out to be Saudi jihadist fighters, while 40% of foreign terrorists killing Iraqi civilians and American servicemen in Iraq are Saudis ( New York Sun, July 30).

Additionally, Saudi Arabia also does not permit basic human rights, like freedom of religion. No religion other than Wahhabi Islam is permitted to be practiced, churches and synagogues are forbidden in the kingdom, women are not allowed to drive cars and Jews are excluded from medical and construction projects in the country.

Dr. Mordechai Nisan, Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has recently written in a monograph, Saudi Arabia’s jihad in the Middle East and the World: Implications for the US and Thoughts for American Policy, that “It is Saudi Arabia, more than Iran or al-Qaeda, which is the primary promoter of global jihad in our times … Israel … is a target of relentless Saudi ambitions … A revision of Washington’s traditional policy towards Saudi Arabia is the issue to be considered.”

Under the law, the president is required to formally notify Congress of an impending arms deal, and Congress then has a 30-day window to pass a Joint Resolution of Disapproval. Standing yesterday in front of the Saudi Consulate in New York, Congressmen Anthony Weiner and Jerrold Nadler condemned Saudi Arabia as a sponsor of terrorism unworthy of American military support and that they would introduce legislation to oppose it as soon as Congress is officially notified. Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL) also joined Weiner in pledging to introduce a joint resolution of disapproval to block the deals when Congress is formally notified. At least seven other Members of Congress have expressed support for a Joint Resolution of Disapproval ( New York Sun, July 30). Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY) has also expressed deep concern about the proposed package ( Haaretz, July 30). Congressman Roy Blunt (R-MO) has indicated that there is much concern about the proposed deal and that getting it through Congress will be a challenge for the Administration.

Criticism of the proposed Saudi arms deal from legislators:

  • Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY): “The folly of this arms deal is beyond belief. Saudi Arabia is the no. 1 exporter of terrorism in the world today. They are not our friends. We cannot trust how they will use their arms. … We don’t have to give them high-tech weapons which may be turned against our friends or us” (New York Sun, July 30).

  • Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY): “They are paying the bills for the suicide bombers. It is not an accident that 15 of the 19 suicide attackers here on our soil were Saudis … looking for the moderate Arab state might be akin to looking for the unicorn” ( New York Sun, July 30); “The reputation of the Saudis has taken quite a beating since 9/11, and despite the fact that the administration has done everything to portray them as part of the moderate Arab world, members of Congress of both parties are increasingly skeptical” ( Washington Post , July 29). “Saudi Arabia should not get an ounce of military support from the U.S until they unequivocally denounce terrorism and take tangible steps to prevent it.” (Press release, May 24).

  • Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee: “This is not a sale at Macy’s that you go in and buy a bunch of stuff. There are a complex set of relationships behind it, and while it’s very desirable to have the Saudis and others recognize that Iran is an existential threat, there is also a degree of responsibility that they have to show on broader U.S. foreign policy interests” (Washington Post, July 29).

  • Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): “We have grave reservations that this arms sale to Saudi Arabia could allow weapons to slip into terrorist hands” (New York Sun, July 30).

      ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The ZOA opposes this proposed arms package for Saudi Arabia in the strongest terms and praises the efforts being made by Representatives Engel, Lantos, Maloney, Nadler, Weiner and Wexler. The ZOA praises their activism on this issue. Saudi Arabia’s record in funding and disseminating Islamist hate ideology worldwide and its support for terrorist groups that murder Israelis is something for which it has never been held to account. At a bare minimum, therefore, it is incumbent upon the United States to withhold advanced technology that would affect the military balance between Israel and the Arab states. While the ZOA strongly supports the increased levels of military aid for Israel proposed in this package, the Saudi arms package is an entirely separate issue that must be judged on its own merits — and these are completely lacking.

      “Saudi Arabia has not behaved like a US ally that deserves this level of support and friendship from the United States. We should not forget that Saudi Arabia is not playing its part in fighting regional terrorism, because it continues to disseminate its extreme Wahhabi ideology in mosques around the world. Nor is it promoting Arab-Israeli peace. The Saudi so-called Peace Initiative demands massive Israeli concessions before the Arab states would even take any steps to recognize Israel and live in peace with her. Moreover, Saudi Arabia threatened Israel with war if it failed to agree to the terms of its Initiative, the Saudi Foreign Minister, Saud al-Faisal, even stating that ” [If Israel does not agree to the offer, it will be placing its future] in the hands of the lords of war” ( Washington Times, March 29). This is clearly not a state fostering peace or fighting terrorism.

      “To proceed with this sale in effect simply tells the Saudis that we believe that their policies and conduct are satisfactory and that they need make no move towards fulfilling their commitments to America as an ally. In this context, it is worth noting that Saudi Arabia lied in November 2005 to the US in promising to drop its economic boycott of Israel, something which it has actually admitted to have continued since that date. Therefore, proceeding with this sale essentially tells the Saudis that they will not be held accountable for their words and deeds. Moreover, no-one has suggested that Saudi Arabia is likely to be attacked by Iran or needs it for its legitimate self-defense. That being the case, why are we selling these weapons to Riyadh?

      “Selling sophisticated high-tech weaponry to Saudi Arabia will seriously reduce Israel’s qualitative military superiority over Arab states that do not accept her existence, which the United States is pledged to uphold and is therefore inconsistent with both American and Israeli interests.”

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