A number of US senators have been building up pressure on the administration of President Barack Obama to approve a major sale of jet fighters to some Persian Gulf Arab states.
The bipartisan group of senators believes Washington’s delay over the fighter jets deal would threaten America’s relationship with its regional Arab allies and their commitment to help fight Daesh (ISIL), according to a Friday report by The Wall Street Journal.
The US daily, which obtained a letter signed by the senators, said the sale of the fighters to Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain has been in limbo for over two years, but the White House has not yet allowed it to go forward partly due to policies that require the US to keep a military edge for Israel in the Middle East and avoid sales to other allies that could take away Israel’s advantage.
The letter, which bears the signatures of Senators John McCain, Bob Corker, Jack Reed and Claire McCaskill, argues that a delay was unnecessary and the sale would not undermine Israel.
“We understand that these requests must be carefully considered, but a decision on them has been pending too long,” the senators wrote.
The proposed deal, valued at about $9 billion, includes F-16s, F-15s and F/A-18 jets.
The companies that build the aircraft, Lockheed Martin and Boeing, have recently warned they could be forced to close their production lines unless they secure new orders, the WSJ report said.
“Denying the requests will not preclude these countries from purchasing fighter aircraft with advanced capabilities from foreign providers, including perhaps Russia,” the senators wrote.
“America must not lose an opportunity to expand our influence in the Middle East and ensure continued US industrial dominance by ceding the field to our competitors or adversaries.”
A senior Obama administration official said in a recent statement that “no decision has been made on fighter sales.”