HOUSTON, Texas (AA) – The US State Department announced Tuesday that it has approved the potential sale of arms to two of its key Middle East partners in separate deals with a total value of more than $5 billion.
Under the terms of the first agreement, Saudi Arabia would purchase $3.05 billion worth of Patriot missiles.
The United Arab Emirates would buy $2.25 billion worth of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system missiles.
According to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), the proposed deal with Saudi Arabia will help replenish its “dwindling” stocks of Patriot missiles, arming the Saudis with 300 new weapons.
The timing of these arms deals comes at a crucial juncture, however, as the US is currently in the process of returning to the table with Iran over its 2015 nuclear deal.
The US withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2018 under former President Donald Trump, but current President Joe Biden’s administration is in the process of possibly re-entering the agreement with Iran over nuclear regulations.
The fact that any missile defense capabilities are heading to the region is notable, especially in the wake of a new agreement in June between Israel and a number of Arab nations to form a US-led joint air defense network known as the Middle East Air Defense Alliance (MEAD).
Under MEAD, Israel will tie in its air defense capabilities with other Middle East nations, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The countries’ defense systems will be linked together to counter any tactical moves by Iran. This will allow the new alliance to jointly protect their nations from any attempt by Iran to attack the region using rockets, cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).