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Saudi Pilots to Train in Idaho; Saudis Help Crush Protests in Bahrain

                              

Last December it was quietly announced by the US Air force that part of the $60 billion arms deal the Obama administration had secured with the Saudis included the training of pilots and flight crews for the 84 new F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jets included in the package.  The planes can reach speeds of Mach II and can pack missiles, bombs and 20mm cannons.  They are capable of air-to-air or air-to-ground combat.

The deal has not been finalized, but it has been announced that the pilots will be trained at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho.  The first pilots are due to arrive in 2013, and training is schedule to run from 2014 to 2019 with the possibilities of a program extention.

Nick Turse posted the story at Al Jazeera, and quotes Congressional supporters  Mike Simpson, Jim Risch and Mike Crapo of Idaho.  Turse finds it ironic that all three opposed building the Mosque at ground zero in NYC, yet open their arms to Saudi pilot training.  Most of the pilots to hit the World Trade Center were, of course, Saudi, and the only planes permitted to fly over the US on 9/12/2001 were those ferrying the members of the House of Saud home.

You can read about the rest of the arms package here; it is reportedly the largest one in history.  Read Nick Turse’s description of the skirmish developing over the deal in Idaho here; it has its own humor woven through it.

The greater outrage to me is that this week Saudi tanks and 2,000 troops rolled into Bahrain to help the government quash the pro-democracy demonstrators, effectively spitting in the eyes of Secretary Clinton and Robert Gates all of whom had ‘urged restraint’ by the government forces and King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa.  Gates had met with the King on March 12 purportedly to suggest some carrots he might offer the protestors.

When news came that government forces were firing on protestors from helicopters, tear-gassing them, and firing on ambulances deployed to help the injured, the President said while addressing state violence in Bahrain, Libya, and Yemen: "The United States condemns the use of violence by governments against peaceful protesters in those countries, and wherever else it may occur."

Turse reports that after viewing video of police and security violence, the administration was in the process of deciding whether or not Bahrain had committed human rights abuses that would necessitate cutting of further arms assistance, then backed off.

“In the weeks since, Washington has markedly softened its tone.  According to a recent report by Julian Barnes and Adam Entous in the Wall Street Journal, this resulted from a lobbying campaign directed at top officials at the Pentagon and the less powerful State Department by emissaries of Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa and his allies in the Middle East.  In the end, the Arab lobby ensured that, when it came to Bahrain, the White House wouldn’t support “regime change,” as in Egypt or Tunisia, but a strategy of theoretical future reform some diplomats are now calling “regime alteration.”

The six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council include (in addition to Bahrain) Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, all of which have extensive ties to the Pentagon.  The organization reportedly strong-armed the White House by playing on fears that Iran might benefit if Bahrain embraced democracy and that, as a result, the entire region might become destabilized in ways inimical to U.S. power-projection policies.  "Starting with Bahrain, the administration has moved a few notches toward emphasizing stability over majority rule," according to a U.S. official quoted by the Journal. "Everybody realized that Bahrain was just too important to fail."

He outlines the incredible ‘marriage’ between the US and the Gulf State Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates) and the Pentagon, which acts essentially as a weapons dealer for the region as it fears possible cut-backs to its budget.

 Bahrain’s population is majority Shia (70%); some believe that events there resemble yet another proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia.  Iran and Shiites around the world are reportedly furious at the introduction of Saudi troops and tanks, which have been reportedly garrisoned near the palace. 

 

Oh yeah! Makes ya proud to be an Idahoan.

(not avoiding you BTW ... three weeks behind on my personal email!)

I was thinking of you as I read and typed.  Cool  Idaho will make billions, the Congresscritters said.

You know, it was really weird seeing foreign press addressing our local politics as it relates to international policy. I've been aware of the deals (it's kind of been off-and-on news in Idaho), but the perspective they came at it from was interesting.

And the freepers? priceless (though, at least consistent). My personal fave:

While LibWhacker mused: "I guess from there they could fly their jets into buildings in Salt Lake City, Portland, maybe Seattle. Who would be surprised if it happened? Oh, that's right. The Pentagon would be surprised. We are so screwed."

I'm sorry. That's funny.

Mmmm...no hurry; it's not I who wants bird photos!  ;o)

It's not like it's never been done before. In fact, a few years ago, I read the USAF was trying to convince a south east asian country to be a partial owner of Mountain Home AFB, to help pay for keeping the base operational. I'm sure there's other places, both USAF, NAVY, Marines and Army who are doing more than just hosting foreign nationals on US soil. Check out Holloman AFB in New Mexico.

Holloman AFB

On 1 May 1996, the German Air Force Tactical Training Center was established in concept with the 20th Fighter Squadron which provides aircrew training in the F-4F Phantom II. The TTC serves as the parent command for two German air crew training squadrons. The F-4 Training Squadron oversees all German F-4 student personal affairs, and provides German instructor pilots to cooperate in the contracted F-4 training program provided by the U.S. Air Force (20th Fighter Squadron). A second TTC unit, the Tornado Training Squadron, provides academic and tactical flying training, by German Air Force instructors, for German Tornado aircrews. The first contingent of Tornado aircraft arrived at Holloman in March 1996. More than 300 German Air Force members are permanently assigned at Holloman to the TTC--the only unit of its kind in the United States. The German Air Force Flying Training Center activated March 31 with German Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Portz and U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Ryan present.

By the end of 2006, 650 Luftwaffe personnel and 25 Tornado aircraft were assigned to Holloman.

url : http://www.holloman.af.mil/units/gaf/index.asp

 

Yup; base-closings are HELL; base consolidations are HELL; so hell; just sell some shares to foreign fighters.  But HELL, these are Our Partners in Peace, the Orhodox Wahhabis who are KILLING protestors in Bahrain and suppress the HELL out of women, while we whistle and pocket their $60 billion...or at least the defense contractors do.

This Mosaic video shows at about 10:00 thousands of Saudis protesting Saudi forces quashing protests in Bahrain.  At about 11:15  is a document-supposedly- signed by the Saudi Interior Minister telling the Saudi police to shoot to kill protestors-in all parts of the “kingdom”- and that they will be punished if they show mercy to the protestors.  No confirmation, and it came from al- alamtv, Iran.  So I dunno.  If it's real it's hideous.

http://www.linktv.org/mosaic

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