July 31, 2007

Sweetheart Deal

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From CBS News: Rice, Gates win no new Arab help in Iraq.

The United States won no specific new promises of Arab help for struggling Iraq after a gathering Tuesday of several nations listed as recipients of an expanded aid and weapons package for friendly states in the region.

Iraq's Arab neighbors repeated a general pledge to promote stability in Iraq, torn by more than four years of war and bitter sectarian divisions that have killed thousands and driven far more from their homes.

"I think we know what the obligations of the neighbors are," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, adding that Egypt and other U.S. allies are working to meet past promises of relief of Iraq's heavy international debt, additional foreign aid and help tamping down violence inside Iraq.

Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates are making a rare joint show of diplomatic force during two days of meetings with Arab allies part of an 11th-hour effort to rally diplomatic and practical help for the U.S.-backed Shiite-led government in Baghdad. The tour also opens talks on a proposed U.S. arms package for Arab states worth more than $20 billion.

But at a press conference with her Egyptian host, Rice pointed to no fresh commitments from the Arabs. A statement issued following a nine-nation meeting promised only "to continue to support Iraq and expand their financial and political support," and restated a general commitment to blocking would-be terrorists and financing that supports them from entering Iraq. ...

Rice said the arms deal, along with an aid package for Israel and Egypt, was not a trade-off for assistance.

From The Jerusalem Post: America's best friends by Caroline Glick.

Two major arms sales were announced over the weekend. First, the US announced that it is planning to sell Saudi Arabia $20 billion in advanced weapons systems, including Joint Direct Attack Munition kits or JDAMs that are capable of transforming regular gravitational bombs into precision-guided "smart" weapons.

Largely in an attempt to neutralize Congressional opposition to the proposed sale, the Bush administration also announced that it plans to increase annual military assistance to Israel by some 25 percent next year and that it hopes that next year's increase in assistance will be maintained by the next administration.

The second arms sale was the reported Russian agreement to sell Iran 250 advanced long-ranged Sukhoi-30 fighter jets and aerial fuel tankers capable of extending the jets' range by thousands of kilometers. Russia's massive armament of Iran in this and in previous sales over the past two years make clear that from Russia's perspective, all threats to US interests, including Shi'ite expansionism, work to Moscow's advantage.

ON THE face of it, these contrasting US and Russian announcements seem to signal that geopolitics have reverted to the Cold War model of two superpowers competing for global power by, among other things, assisting their proxies in fighting one another. Yet, today the situation is not the same as it was before.

Posted by Forkum at July 31, 2007 03:13 PM
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