US planning to arm UAE with thousands of bombs to counter Iran ‘threat’

The Obama administration has drawn up plans to build a regional coalition to counter Iran by selling munitions to the United Arab Emirates. The US is proposing to quietly sell thousands of advanced “bunker-buster” bombs and other munitions as it steps up its mission to counter the perceived threat from Iran.

With US sanctions already in place, and UN security council members Russia and China opposed to introducing new sanctions on Iran, the Obama administration has instead decided to try to “build up the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which comprises Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, U.A.E. and Kuwait, as a unified counterweight to Iran,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

The US is no stranger to supplying arms to the region, and the Obama administration seems to believe that arming the region is the best way to counter the threat of, and apply pressure to, Iran.

“Recent arms deals include a record $60 billion plan to sell Saudi Arabia advanced F-15 aircraft, some to be equipped 2,000-pound JDAMs and other powerful munitions. The Pentagon recently notified Congress of plans to sell Stinger missiles and medium-range, air-to-air missiles to Oman,” the Wall Street Journal writes. “The U.S. has also sought to build up missile-defense systems across the region, with the goal of building an integrated network to defend against short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles from Iran.”

It remains unclear whether the “bunker-buster” bombs would be effective at breaching Iranian fortifications, as it is believed some are deep enough to withstand such strikes. Just to be sure, the Pentagon has been developing larger guided bombs.

The proposal to further arm UAE is perceived to be a move to support the UAE in expanding its ‘security role’ in the region and beyond, and to deter Iran.

Once the arms deal proposal is announced, a congressional challenge could block the deal, although this is unlikely to happen as officials have said the U.A.E. package is seen as less controversial because the country is viewed as less hostile toward Israel.

US arms deals to the Middle East have slowed in pace in recent months due to the outbreak of pro-democracy protests. For example, the Wall Street Journal writes that: “Last month, the State Department put a proposed $53 million arms sale to Bahrain on hold after some lawmakers and human-rights groups protested the monarchy’s violent crackdown on protesters earlier this year.”

However, it is back to ‘business as usual’ with the Obama administration as arms sales to the Middle East are once again being fast-tracked by the administration.

“We in the military are poised to get back to normalcy,” the U.S. military official said of sales to ‘key allies’.

WikiLeaks: Hero or Villain?

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As of 17:26, 29th November 2010, WikiLeaks has released only a “handful” of the 250,000 strong cache of secret US embassy documents – a total of 243 at present. Yet already the international community has been set ablaze, with politicians condemning the release of the confidential reports – some labelled “Not for foreign eyes” (NOFORN).

Across the globe, governments and diplomats are taking action to limit the damage and to preserve foreign relations. Some are attempting to take action against WikiLeaks – Australia has launched a “whole-of-government” investigation into the website, perhaps partly due to the fact that the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, is an Australian citizen. Australia’s attorney general Robert McClelland said: “We’re waiting for advice from the agencies as to appropriate course of actions that may be taken in response”. Downing Street has condemned the release, stating that the leaks have damaged “national security”. Pakistan has also criticised the release; it’s foreign ministry spokesman, Abdul Basit, said today: “We condemn the irresponsible disclosure of sensitive official documents”. China has censored local media, banning any reporting on the subject. The French government has described the leaks as an attack on democracy, pledging their support to the American administration. Naturally, US politicians and diplomats are vehemently condemning WikiLeaks and Eric Holder, the US attorney-general, explained that “there is an active, ongoing criminal investigation” whilst threatening that some members of the media will face “real consequences”. One US official is even calling for WikiLeaks to be branded as a “terrorist organistion”, though it does not appear as if many support this reactionist statement.

But how “treasonous” is WikiLeaks act?  Despite the fact that many of the cables have been marked “secret”, there are approximately 3 million Americans with the clearance to read the documents. It is clear that “secret” is a relevant classification in this sense. Continue reading