I really didn’t expect this coming from FrontpageMag, but I guess you can’t always agree on everything.
Even though the details of the deal are classified and far from being finalized, 114 members of the U.S. House, (96 Democrats and 18 Republicans) rushed a letter to President George W. Bush on August 2 declaring their intention to vote against any sale of advanced weapons to Saudi Arabia and the five other member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates).
The thrust of their stated argument is that “Saudi Arabia has not been a true ally in the war on terror or furthering the United States interests in the Middle East.” Yet, the purpose of the estimated $20 billion arms deal is to draw the kingdom closer into an alignment to counter the most dangerous threat in the region, Iran. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on July 30 that the arms will “support a broader strategy to counter the negative influences of al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran.” The military aid to the Saudis and Gulf states will run in parallel with agreements to increase military aid to Israel ($30 billion, signed in Jerusalem August 16) and to Egypt ($13 billion) over the next decade. According to Secretary Rice, the arms sale to Cairo will “strengthen Egypt’s ability to address shared strategic goals” with Israel and the other Sunni Arab states. The best way to build new diplomatic and security alliances is to pull otherwise diverse states together against a common enemy.
Saudi Arabia and the smaller Gulf states do not have the manpower to combat Iran, so they need superior weapons which are interoperable with those of the United States. Cooperation in the areas of missile defense, maritime patrol, counter-terrorism, and energy security is moving ahead with U.S.-led joint exercises. American trainers, advisors and support personnel will also have to accompany the new weapon systems.
Though a minority in Iraq, the Sunnis are a majority in the Muslim world. In addition to providing material and diplomatic support for what is called by the State Department the Six Plus Two coalition (the GCC plus Egypt and Jordan), a tilt towards the Sunni would also help with Turkey whose governing Islamic Party has caused concerns about the future orientation of the country. But the Turks have long been at odds with the minority Alawi sect of Shi’a, which rules Syria, who people are majority Sunni.
For Congress to block the arms sales would undermine what trust there is between Washington and the Sunni world. It would also fuel the propaganda of both al-Qaeda and Tehran that alleges America is at war with all of Islam, when, in fact, U.S. security interests are in line with those of a majority of Muslims regarding the rising threat from Iran.
With all due respect to William Hawkins, I just don’t agree with his assessment of arming the Sunni world.
Eventhough the smaller Gulf states do not have the manpower to defend themselves, I don’t see Iran, Syria or Hezbollah threatening the smaller Arab countries. They’re threatening Israel, the US and other Westernized countries.
Since when do we have so much invested in defending Sunni Muslim interests?
In the Middle East, we should be worried about defending Israel, number one. And those who RECOGNIZE ISRAEL, number two.
Also, what I feel has been a huge mistake by the Bush administration is appeasing to the Sunni Muslim states who constantly are preaching anti-American, anti-Israel, and anti-Western values in their schools. The fundamental ideology of Sunni Wahhabi Islam is something Condi, Bush and the rest of the cabinet just do not understand. I think they need to read Robert Spencer’s new book, “Religion of Peace? Why Christianity is, and Islam isn’t”
The fact remains that the Sunni world STILL doesn’t support our number one ally (Israel) and by arming these Islamic controlled states who don’t teach democracy and freedom, we are simply shooting ourselves in the foot.
If President Bush so badly wants to “spread freedom and democracy”, then he should not be arming those who are theologically opposed to it.