U.S. Forces in the Middle East: Resources and Capabilities

By Anthony H. Cordesman | Go to book overview

7
The Impact of US Military Aid and Arms Sales

The US has other tools that strengthen its contingency capabilities in the Southern Gulf. The US only makes limited use of economic or military aid as a tool for strengthening its contingency capabilities in the Gulf--in part because of the steady world-wide reductions the US is making in all forms of spending on aid. Such military aid is unnecessary in the case of the wealthier Gulf states--Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. Bahrain and Oman, however, lack the funds to pay for the modernization of their military forces, and Oman has only received limited aid from the other Southern Gulf states.

The recent patterns in US aid to the Gulf are shown in Table Eleven, although they do not include the full value of surplus military equipment transfers. It is striking how little aid is given to any Gulf state, and how little is given to Bahrain and Oman in particular. In contrast, Egypt and Israel received over $5 billion a year, and a state like Yemen--which supported Iraq during the Gulf War--received a total of $19 million in aid in FY 1993, $16.9 million in FY 1994, and $12.4 million in FY 1995. Even Djibouti received more aid than Bahrain and Oman combined in FY 1993, FY 1994, and FY 1995.

Ideally, such aid to Bahrain and Oman should be provided by the other Southern Gulf states. In practice, though, it is becoming increasingly clear that Bahrain and Oman will not get the aid they need unless there are major shifts in the policies of their neighbors. Accordingly, there are good reasons to rethink the present patterns of US aid in the Southern Gulf, and to consider expanding the transfer of surplus equipment to Bahrain and Oman as a means of providing aid without affecting the US budget. There are equally good reasons to rethink cuts in aid the US had pledged to Oman, but failed to deliver because of Congressional cuts. Oman has strongly supported the US in power projection in the region, and received remarkably little in return-- particularly when one examines the past level of aid to states like

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