US and Saudi tanks take part in the Eager Lion multinational military maneuver, on Sept. 14, 2022, representing one of the largest military exercises in the region. (Photo by Getty Images)
The Pentagon has authorized a potential arms deal with Saudi Arabia worth $500 million in order to help the kingdom sustain its arsenal of armored vehicles with spare parts and maintenance, according to the US State Department.
"The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia of Cooperative Logistics Supply Support Arrangement (CLSSA) Program, Foreign Military Sales Order (FMSO) II, and related equipment for an estimated cost of $500 million," US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced in a statement on Thursday.
Under the CLSSA Agreement, the Pentagon will deliver spares and parts for vehicles to the Kingdom, including its fleet of Abrams tanks, M-60 tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles, Mine Resistance Ambush Protected vehicles, Light Armored Vehicles, howitzers, among a diverse range of military equipment, the statement said.
Other equipment covered includes TOW missile launchers, radar systems and communications equipment and other related elements of logistics and program support, according to the DSCA.
"This proposed sale will support US foreign policy and national security objectives by supporting a strategic partner’s self-defense and promoting stability in [West Asia]" and will "maintain Saudi Arabia’s capability to meet current and future threats by allowing the Royal Saudi Land Force (RSLF) to continue to purchase needed spare/repair parts through their current CLSSA program," the statement said.
The RSLF has participated in the CLSSA program since 1965.
Any military pact with the kingdom would require support from two-thirds of the 100-person US Senate, which seems to be a tall order as the legislative body is torn evenly between the two major American political parties.
However, the previous $500 million military support was granted when relations between Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and President Joe Biden were tense.
The package comes on the back of continued negotiations over a potential normalization deal between Saudi Arabia and the Israeli regime, mediated by the US.
Israel is "at the cusp" of establishing formal diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia by finalizing a US-brokered breakthrough peace agreement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly in New York on Friday.
"Peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia will truly create a new Middle East," he said.
The deal is aimed in part at restoring US credibility as a broker in the region, pushing back Chinese influence, but there are a number of obstacles to such a complex agreement coming to fruition.
One of the three main components of the deal is security guarantees demanded by Saudi Arabia from the US as well as more advanced US weapons systems. The other two are civilian nuclear technology and an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestine.
In order to sign a deal with Israel, Riyadh publicly asked Tel Aviv to implement the 2002 so-called Arab Peace Initiative to establish a Palestinian state first.
However, members of the far-right Israeli regime, led by Netanyahu, say they will not make any concession to the Palestinians as part of a potential deal for normalization of relations with Saudi Arabia.
On Wednesday, Mohammed bin Salman also confirmed that the kingdom is "getting closer" every day to normalizing ties with Israel. However, he added that the progress of the agreement would depend on how Israel would deal with Palestinians.
Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan made it clear that the kingdom will not normalize relations with Israel until Palestinians are granted statehood.
The UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco signed US-brokered normalization agreements with Israel in 2020, drawing condemnations from Palestinians who slammed the deals as "a stab in the back of the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people."