Voice from the Commonwealth Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts
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The Saudis have agreed to let the US use airbases in the event of a war to oust Saddam.
The United States and Saudi Arabia have reached new agreements that will allow expanded U.S. air operations from Saudi territory, including full use of Prince Sultan Air Base as an air operations center, in the event of war against Iraq, according to senior U.S. officials and diplomatic sources.
In addition to the use of the air command and control center at Prince Sultan, 70 miles southeast of Riyadh, the Saudi capital, the agreements will allow the United States to fly refueling aircraft, AWACS surveillance planes and JSTARS battlefield radar aircraft from Saudi airfields, the sources said. The United States also will be permitted to use Saudi airfields to base fighter jets that undertake interception missions against Iraqi aircraft and that continue to enforce the no-fly zone over southern Iraq.
According to one informed source, there also is a tacit agreement that would allow the United States to conduct bombing missions from Saudi Arabia in the days after an initial wave of U.S. air attacks as long as no public announcement was made. Asked about the possibility of launching combat strike aircraft from Saudi bases, a senior Defense Department official declined comment.
Sources said the Saudis also had agreed to increase their daily oil production by 1.5 million barrels per day to, as one put it, "kick in as soon as there's a shortfall" on international markets. Current Iraqi production of 2 million barrels is expected to cease, at least temporarily, once war begins.
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