'Israel told US: Don't sell arms to certain Arab states'

WikiLeaks cable reveals Israel presented list of weapons US should not sell to Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia in order to keep its "military edge."

May 4, 2011 17:53
4 minute read.
US aviation men load a HARM air-to-surface missile

HARM air-to-surface missile. (photo credit: Reuters)


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Israel said it was worried about Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia's "quantitative and qualitative military build-up" and by the potential risk this could pose to the IDF, a March 2006 WikiLeaks document released Wednesday revealed.

In the classified document, Israeli Defense Ministry official Rami Yungman discusses with US officials how Israel can maintain its "Qualitative Military Edge" following a US presentation to Jerusalem on proposed defense sales to the Middle East.

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WikiLeaks cites an earlier Israeli document submitted to the US about its defense sales proposal. Israeli officials in the paper state that: "Israel is increasingly concerned with the narrowing of the qualitative gap by potential adversaries as a result not only of the transfer of cutting edge US weapons and technology to the region, that also involves training and guidance, but also with the aggregative effect that the combination of these weapon systems and technologies have."

The officials emphasize that the transfer of US weapons and technology "substantially improve the operational capabilities (air and naval in particular) of the Arab armed forces, and their potential to challenge IDF's major capabilities and systems, which in turn may in the long run influence also their intentions. In addition, we are worried that some of the capabilities may, under certain circumstances, fall into the hands of terror elements."

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Specifically, the Israeli paper cited three cases the defense establishment was worried about regarding US weapons transfers.

On Egypt, the paper said Cairo's military shift to a "western offensive doctrine" and the "cold peace" policy that conveys to the Egyptian people and army that Israel is still a potential enemy could "prove explosive given a regime change" in the country. The Israeli officials conclude that in light of these considerations, Egypt should not be given weapons systems that could give it an advantage on the ground.

According to the WikiLeaks document, the weapons that Israel advised the US not to give to Egypt include: HARMs (high speed anti-radiation missiles); AMRAAMs (advanced medium-range air-to-air missile); Apache Longbow attack helicopter; and PAC III (interceptor missiles). Meanwhile, the officials said Israel does not object to the sale of 200 M10915 155 MM Self propelled Howitzers (artillery canon) and osprey class mine hunter coastal ships to Egypt.

Regarding Saudi Arabia, the officials write in the paper that Riyadh "has a long record of hostility against Israel, supporting terror, participating in most of the Arab-Israeli wars, avoiding contacts with Israel and opposing rapprochement between Israel and the Gulf Arab states." They add that there is also a concern over the stability of the Saudi regime, which could be challenged by terror elements.

"The combination of highly advanced weapon systems in the hands of an unstable regime calls for a reassessment of the US arms sales to Saudi Arabia," the paper says.

According to the paper, the arms in question include: 165 Link 16 MIDS (Multi-functional Information Distribution System) and 25 JTIDS (Joint Tactical Information Distribution System) which the paper says will significantly improve Saudi air force attack and interception capabilities; LANTIRN (Low-Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infra-Red for Night) Targeting System Capability which would upgrade the air-to-ground capabilities of the Saudi air force according to the officials; and JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munition) and JSOWs (Joint Standoff Weapon) which would give the Saudis long range attack capabilities. The paper said Israel requests that AMRAAM delivery to Saudi Arabia be slowed down and that it has no objection to avionics upgrade kits and services to the C-130/H aircraft.

With regard to Jordan, although the Israeli officials write that Israel continues to support the "security and welfare of the Hashemite Kingdom," due to the country's geographic location, equipping Jordan with SAMs (surface-to-air missiles) and other similar system covering its entire airspace, could pose a risk to the IAF.

Lastly, the paper mentions that Israel does not object to US weapons sales to Gulf States, but is concerned that the transfer of certain advanced weapons systems, such as JDAM, JSOW, and HARM, could pose a risk if those states transfer the arms to Israeli adversaries in "case of a regional conflict."

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