WASHINGTON – Several members of Congress are opposing the planned American arms sale to Saudi Arabia and have written US President Barack Obama to express their concerns.

“Saudi Arabia is not deserving of our aid, and by arming them with advanced American weaponry we are sending the wrong message,” wrote Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), the lead author of the letter.

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“Saudi Arabia has a history of financing terrorism, is a nation that teaches hate of Christians and Jews to their schoolchildren, and offered no help to the US as gas prices surged during the spike in oil prices.”

The deal reportedly includes up to $60 billion in sales of advanced fighter jets and helicopters, including F- 15s, Apaches and Black Hawks. The deal could also include expanded missile defenses and naval capabilities for Riyadh.

Once the administration officially informs Congress of the details, which is expected to take place in the next few weeks, the body will have 30 days to pass a resolution blocking the sale.

Fellow Democrats Shelley Berkley of Nevada and Christopher Carney of Pennsylvania joined Weiner in signing the letter to the president, and several Republican members have also separately voiced criticism of the deal.

However, Hill sources noted that they don’t expect the opposition to get sufficient support to prevent the sale.

One Congressional aide tracking the issue said there was “no chance” the sale would be blocked and that the letter and other efforts are “symbolic.”

He said that the White House had “done its homework” to make sure most of Congress would be receptive – and that Israel wouldn’t be strongly opposed – before letting word of the deal leak out.

“The argument that has been made, on paper at least, that support for Saudi Arabia is a bulwark against Iran has a whole a lot of sway for people,” he explained, adding that the number of jobs created in numerous districts by such a massive deal would contribute to congressional backing. Saudi Arabia has also indicated it would buy weapons elsewhere if the US were to refuse.

The aide predicted that if congressional opposition had any impact on the deal, it would be minor.

“It may get to the point where they might alter one or two of the items or reduce it by a symbolic amount,” he said.

A Weiner spokesman, however, differed with the assessment.

He pointed to the passage of an amendment blocking military aid to Saudi Arabia in 2009 as an example of recent congressional action against providing the Gulf state with weapons.

He added that Weiner would only approve of an amended deal “if it doesn’t involve selling arms to Saudi Arabia.”

Israel, however, has given indications that so long as its military edge is maintained, the government and its allies won’t be pushing to block the deal, as Jerusalem is seen as understanding the political realities pushing the sales forward.

Still, the letter points to concerns about the deal’s implications for Israel.



“The United States needs to remain committed to Israel’s qualitative military edge over its rivals in the region and should cease all negotiations over new weapons sales to Saudi Arabia,” the letter declares.

In response to the proposed sale, an Israeli Embassy spokesman said, “We have very close and ongoing and good dealings with the administration, and there’s an ongoing commitment to maintain Israel’s military edge.”

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