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US approved $500 million deal with Saudi Arabia

The US State Department has approved a potential $500 million deal to provide maintenance for Saudi Arabia’s fleet of combat vehicles, according to the Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA).

The deal involves providing spare parts, components and repair services for vehicles including Abrams tanks and Bradley combat vehicles, which are in service with the Royal Saudi Land Forces.

“The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia of Cooperative Logistics Supply Support Arrangement (CLSSA) Program, Foreign Military Sales Order (FMSO) II and related equipment for an estimated cost of $500 million.”

DSCA added that the proposed sale would support US foreign policy and national security objectives by maintaining the self-defence of a strategic partner and contributing to stability in the Middle East.

The aid package points to continued close defence ties between Washington and Riyadh as a result of US-brokered normalisation talks between Saudi Arabia and Israel. The deal also includes security guarantees that the Gulf state requires from the United States. The other two conditions are a civilian nuclear programme and Israel’s concession on Palestine.

The funds will begin to flow after Congressional approval. Previous military support of $500 million was provided when relations between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and President Joe Biden were strained.

Biden took office calling Saudi Arabia a rogue state and saying he would hold bin Salman accountable for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Then the US president flew to Riyadh to meet with the Crown Prince, which was assessed as a humiliating U-turn.

The normalisation agreement also implies a duty for US soldiers to come to the aid of the Gulf state to protect the interests of Saudi Arabia and Israel.

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