The US has announced military aid packages worth more than $60bn (£30bn) for Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other key Arab allies in the Gulf. The aim is to boost regional defences against the growing power of Iran and to induce the Saudis in particular to cut back support for Sunni insurgent groups inside Iraq.
Last night, top Bush administration officials headed to the Middle East to discuss details of the arrangements. The most controversial element – in the US at least – is the supply of advanced weaponry to Saudi Arabia, including satellite-guided bombs, upgrades to fighter aircraft, as well as new navy ships, in a deal that could be worth $20bn.
In an attempt to reassure Israel, and head off opposition in Congress, Washington has promised the Jewish state a massive increase in military aid, to $30bn over the next decade, some 30 per cent more than over the past 10 years.