The wholesale upgrading of the armed forces of Saudi Arabia and its partners in the Persian Gulf is seen in some quarters as a risky enterprise that will only convince the Iranians they need nuclear weapons to counter such a buildup of conventional forces ranged against them.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UPI) Nov 8, 2010 The U.S. administration's plan to sell advanced weaponry worth at least $122 billion to its allies in the Persian Gulf to counter Iran is causing unease in the Middle East. There are fears that the mega-deal, the biggest arms sale in U.S. history if Congress approves, carries serious risks it will inflame regional rivalries while it provides huge profits for the U.S. defense industry.
The potential for conflict in an inherently unstable region prone to war and insurgency is immense. Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and the Levant are all powder kegs. Israel feels increasingly squeezed by missile-armed forces that ring it and may resort to pre-emptive strikes.
The massive U.S. deal doesn't cover Iraq, where the Americans are still rebuilding the country's postwar military and forces.
But that, too, causes concern. Saddam Hussein launched two wars against his neighbors. He invaded Iran in September 1980, triggering a grueling war of attrition that ended in August 1988. Two years later he invaded Kuwait, which ended in a crushing defeat for Iraq by a U.S.-led coalition.
Iraq's neighbors, particularly Iran and Saudi Arabia, have no wish to see the new Iraq become a military power.
Right now, that prospect is less threatening than the reality of the present, with Iraq once again sliding into chaos and anarchy that could spill over into the Persian Gulf as the Saudis and other Sunni states seek to prevent the Iranians gaining a foothold in the heart of the Arab world.
The Americans have armed the gulf states for decades but this time they're providing them with offensive systems.