Amidst the political upheavals in the Middle east and North Africa, the U.S. is expanding its military and defense relations with Saudi Arabia on a grand scale, according to media reports.
Among the elements of this arrangement is a secretive project to create an elite force that will safeguard Saudi’s vast oil wealth future nuclear energy power plants.
The Saudis remain highly concerned about the vulnerability of their energy production facilities, the U.S. State Department said in a diplomatic cable.
They recognize many of their energy facilities remain at risk from al-Qaeda and other terrorists who seek to disrupt the global economy.”
Washington is reportedly also in talks to senior Saudi officials about the formation of a sophisticated air and missile defense system that will exceed the comparable capabilities of its biggest regional enemy, Iran.
Indeed, the Saudis are seeking to spend $60-billion on dozens of new US-built F-15 combat aircraft that will guarantee military superiority over Tehran.
It's not only about defending against a single military threat like Iran, but also an expression, politically and symbolically, of a U.S. commitment to Saudi Arabia's long-term security, Christopher Blanchard, a Middle East policy analyst at the Congressional Research Service, according to Associated Press.
It's about seeing the U.S.-Saudi relationship into the next generation.”
The intensifying military relationship between Washington and Riyadh is somewhat puzzling given that the U.S. has largely endorsed the recent removals of long-time Arab dictators (like Hosni Mubarak of Egypt) whom the Saudis have long supported,
However, American dependence on Saudi oil superseded any other consideration. The Saudis are also key player in ensuring peace for Israel; as well as forming a strong bulwark against Islamic terrorism and Iran, which may or may not have a nuclear program.