Political analysts have predicted that the new Republican congress would waste no time in challenging the Obama administration’s $60 billion arms deal to Saudi Arabia (see my recent post on the Republican Congress). And, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is wasting no time in asking its members to pressure their representatives in Congress to “raise a series of questions” about the arms sale.
AIPAC is circulating a letter (PDF), drafted by the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) and Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and addressed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, that asks:
We would like you to explain the rationale for a sale of such magnitude. What U.S. policy goals and interest are advanced by this sale and have we placed any conditions on it? What is the threat or threats that this sale is intended to address? Do the Saudis share our assessment of those threats, and will they be amenable to, and capable of, carrying out these missions?
Much attention has already gone to the motivations behind the arms sale, with realists concluding it is a clear attempt by the Obama administration to prepare the ground for a containment and deterrence policy against a nuclear armed Iran.
AIPAC’s support of the questions on the arms sale may well signal the increased pressure the Obama administration’s Iran policy will face both inside and outside of Congress, especially with a House Foreign Affairs Committee chaired by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).