George W. Bush has backed his political rhetoric against Iran with the promise of a major arms deal with Washington’s main Gulf allies. The multi-billion euro sale, which could still be blocked by Congress, would see a range of weapons including Patriot missiles and precision-guided bombs delivered to Saudi Arabia and neighbouring states.
The announcement was timed to coincide with Bush’s arrival in Riyadh.
He is not only seeking King Abdullah’s support against Iran – but also for the US-led efforts to make peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. Saudi Arabia has made it clear that a final peace deal must include a return of all territory disputed with Israel since the 1967 war.
The call for alignment against Iran has also so far failed to gain a foothold.
Analysts say the US’s Arab allies may prefer to engage Tehran, as Saudi Arabia recently did by inviting President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad to the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca.