THE LAT­EST ON SAUDI ARMS DEAL,

Boston Herald - - NEWS -

The dis­ap­pear­ance of Saudi jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi at a Saudi diplo­matic mis­sion in Tur­key has fu­eled law­mak­ers’ calls for the United States to re­con­sider arms sales to the king­dom that have been cham­pi­oned by Pres­i­dent Trump.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion says the pro­posed $110 bil­lion deal would bol­ster the U.S. econ­omy by cre­at­ing tens of thou­sands of jobs. But with Khashoggi feared dead, some want that trans­ac­tion re­vis­ited.

A look at the arms deal: De­tails of the $110 bil­lion arms pack­age, agreed upon in May 2017, have been sketchy. At the time the ad­min­is­tra­tion pro­vided only a broad de­scrip­tion of the de­fense equip­ment that would be sold. There was no pub­lic break­down of ex­actly what was be­ing of­fered for sale and for how much.

The Con­gres­sional Re­search Ser­vice de­scribed the pack­age as a com­bi­na­tion of sales that Pres­i­dent Barack Obama had pro­posed and dis­cussed with Con­gress and new sales that are still be­ing de­vel­oped.

The Pen­tagon on Thurs­day said Saudi Ara­bia has signed “let­ters of of­fer and ac­cep­tance” for only $14.5 bil­lion in sales, in­clud­ing he­li­copters, tanks, ships, weapons and train­ing. Those let­ters, is­sued af­ter the U.S. gov­ern­ment has ap­proved a pro­posed sale, spec­ify its terms.

Trump’s re­peated claims that he’s signed $110 bil­lion worth of new arms sales to Riyadh are “just not true,” said Bruce Riedel, a se­nior fel­low at Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion and former CIA and De­fense De­part­ment of­fi­cial. “Very lit­tle has changed hands.”

Ac­cord­ing to CRS, there are let­ters of of­fer and ac­cep­tance for sales of four com­bat ships for coastal wa­ters, 115 M1A2S tanks made by Gen­eral Dy­nam­ics Corp., PAC-3 Pa­triot mis­siles, UH-60 he­li­copters and CH-47 Chi­nook he­li­copters. Among the big-ticket sales yet to be fi­nal­ized are an $18 bil­lion up­grade of Saudi Ara­bia’s mil­i­tary com­man­dand-con­trol and de­fense com­mu­ni­ca­tions in­fras­truc­ture and a THAAD An­tiMis­sile Sys­tem.

Saudi Ara­bia’s armed forces have re­lied on U.S. arms sales, train­ing, and ser­vice sup­port for decades, and suc­ces­sive U.S. ad­min­is­tra­tions have viewed that na­tion as a strate­gic part­ner for seven decades. Al­though el­e­ments in Saudi Ara­bia have his­tor­i­cally sup­ported the spread of fun­da­men­tal­ist ide­ol­ogy, Wash­ing­ton and Riyadh share con­cerns about ter­ror­ism by Is­lamic ex­trem­ists and the in­flu­ence of a com­mon ad­ver­sary: Iran.

Those strate­gic ties have deep­ened un­der Trump.

AP PHOTO

DIS­AP­PEAR­ANCE IN SPOT­LIGHT: Pres­i­dent Trump lis­tens to a re­porter’s ques­tion about miss­ing Wash­ing­ton Post jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi af­ter land­ing in Cincin­natti Fri­day. The dis­ap­pear­ance has spurred calls for Trump to re­con­sider arms sales to the Saudis.

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