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U.S. plans $11 billion sale of combat ships to Saudi Arabia

USS IndependenceUSS Independence
In this photo provided by the U.S. Navy, the Navy's littoral combat ship USS Independence (LCS-2) arrives at Mole Pier March 29, 2010 at Naval Air Station Key West in Key West, Fla. Photograph by U.S. Navy/Getty Images

The Pentagon has notified Congress of its plan to sell up to four Littoral Combat Ships to Saudi Arabia for $11.25 billion, according to Bloomberg.

The planned sale of these small vessels, which are designed to operate in coastal waters, would begin to make good on President Obama’s promise to beef up the military capabilities of U.S. allies in the Middle East. The Gulf Cooperation Council–composed of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates–agreed to support the Iran nuclear deal in August after U.S. officials sweetened the deal with offers of increased arms sales and assistance. In addition to the expected combat ship sale, the United States has been in talks with the GCC on other security guarantees and points of coordination.

Iran’s neighbors are concerned that the lifting of sanctions on the Islamic Republic would do little to impede Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, while facilitating the modernization of its supply of conventional weapons. And as Gulf Arab states contend with threats from ISIS and sectarian violence spilling out from Syria, the Iran deal is only the cherry on top of a heap of reasons to buy up arms. Many American defense contractors are getting ready for a business boom as Arab countries spend record amounts on arms deals. Last year, Saudi Arabia spent a record $80 billion on weaponry–more than either Britain or France.

Congress now has an opportunity to block the sale.