In Newsweek, Tablet Magazine Mideast columnist Lee Smith argued that the United States is perfectly happy to sell sophisticated military equipment, like F-15 fighter planes, to Saudi Arabia—and Israel is perfectly happy to see the sale go through, provided the planes lack longer-range capability—because the name of the game in the region is increasingly the United States, Israel, and most Arab regimes versus Iran and its proxies Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas. “If Israel and Saudi Arabia aren’t exactly headed toward rapprochement,” Smith wrote, “the old enmities are not what they used to be.” (Turkey, for its part, is trying in various ways to please both sides, which has led it to fail to please both the U.S. and al-Qaeda.)
All told, the Jerusalem Post reported over the weekend, military sales to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar could top an unprecedented $60 billion—which naturally doesn’t include U.S. sales to Israel, such as the just-approved nearly $3 billion deal for 20 F-35s (the world’s most advanced warplane). Little wonder that Syria may want in and Iran is nervous.
Our Proxy War in the Middle East [Newsweek]
Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.