US Military Assistance to Middle East Allies Versus Intl Politics
Is America doing harm or good in the Region?

   By Amin George Forji




     The US this week announced a military sales package of $63 billion to it’s Middle East allies, notably Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the gulf states of Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and UAE. According to he proposed bill, which is still to be approved by Congress, Israel, the highest recipient of the package is due to receive up to $30 billion in military aid during the next ten years. Egypt on her part will receive close to half of that amount ($ 13 billion). The remaining $ 20 billion will be shared between Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States, including the sale of satellite-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia-the first to an Arab state.


 The aim of the assistance, Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice said in a statement, is twofold to wit: bolstering their military infrastructure so that they are able to meet up with their security needs as well as countering the influences from Iran, Syria and regional militant groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas.  In the overall, she continued, the investment will guarantee long-term stability in the region.
As a follow-up to the announcement, both Rice and US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, are on a tour to to the region, and have already made stops in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the West Bank.

“Iran is the single most important, single-country challenge to US interests in the Middle East.” Rice said prior to arriving at Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt.


As expected, the move has met with fierce opposition from the countries it seeks to contain notably Iran, Saudi Arabia, and also Hamas and Hezbollah.


   One issue that has preoccupied many analysts since the announcement is about eventual consequences. What are the exact intentions of the US? In other words, what is the politics behind the initiative? Is it a hidden agenda to settle some undisclosed scores or literally speaking, to stabilize the region as Condoleezza Rice has claimed? Evidently, there can be as many answers to these questions as there are writers on the subject.


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