Selling arms to the Saudis is lucrative business. However, by doing so, the Trump administration is determined to make the Saudis the supreme power in the Middle East, which started May 2017 when President Trump visited Saudi Arabia. This is dangerous because empowering the Saudis to lead Arabs and Muslims can result in using them against anyone the Saudis want to settle scores with, in and beyond the Middle East,” states, Dr. Ali H. Alyami, Executive Director for The Center for Democracy & Human Rights (CDHR) in Saudi Arabia, a Washington, D.C. based organization.”
President Donald Trump met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) Tuesday (March 20) for a meeting at the White House to discuss collaborative investments between the United States and Saudi Arabia.
The meeting took place amid a bi-partisan debate, and resolution, aimed at ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. The resolution was defeated, albeit with the support of 44 senators.
During the press briefing with MBS Tuesday, President Trump said:
“Saudi Arabia is a very wealthy nation and they are going to give the United States some of that wealth hopefully, in the form of jobs, in the form of the purchase of the finest military equipment in the world.”
The President went on to say:
“As I said before, when it comes to the missiles and the planes and all of the military equipment, there’s nobody that even comes close to us in terms of technology and the quality of the equipment.”
President Trump’s statement will likely be perceived by the Israelis with some vexation. Israel has one of the most advanced military on earth with 4.5 percent GDP spent on research and development, 30 percent of which is spent on military. Business Insider ranks Israel second to Turkey, with Saudi Arabia number 5 based on equipment and active personnel for the Middle East.
Israel received a global military ranking of 15 out of 133 nations by GFP Strength In Numbers 2017 (United States #1, Russia #2, Israel #15, Saudi Arabia #24).
In addition, Saudi’s relationship with Russia’s Vladimir Putin deepens with an agreement to cut back on oil production, thereby boosting oil prices which has created a broader relationship. Speculation among analysts is that Saudi believes Russia can help it with Iran, which it fears will develop nuclear weapons and who is on the opposite side of the proxy war in Yemen. However, that is not likely as the Sunni vs Shi’ite regional conflict has been a 1,400 year clash.
“THE KINGDOM ON THE BRINK”
Published March 17, 2018 by Zero Hedge, this is an interview with Dr. Ali Alyami, Executive Director of the Center for Democracy & Human Rights (CDHR) this interview deserves your attention. Dr. Alyami is an esteemed expert on Saudi affairs based in Washington, D.C. The article entitled “The Kingdom On The Brink” is linked hereto.
Among the many salient points made by Dr. Alyami regarding the U.S.-Saudi relationship, ten are highlighted below:
- Dr. Alyami asserts that despite liberalization of several embryonic social initiatives of draconian Wahhabism rule, the absolute monarchical system to ensure the royal family’s continued iron-fisted rule continues.
- Crown Prince MBS’s ambitious economic reform plan, “Vision 2030” would require about $4 trillion investment in nine sectors: mining, metals, petrochemicals, manufacturing, retail and wholesale trade, tourism/ hospitality, healthcare, finance, and construction. MBS has underestimated the tarnished reputation of the Kingdom and is miscalculating investor’s lack of trust in the Saudi government.
- “It is interesting that President Trump fired Secretary of State Tillerson on the eve of MBS’s visit to the United States. Saudis and Emirates never liked Tillerson because he stood up to them when they tried to invade and take over Qatar.”
- “The reason the media hardly mentions the carnage in Yemen is because it’s not a profitable business and there is no politically active Yemeni community in the U.S.”
- “Furthermore, the Iranian government has repeatedly said it will wipe Israel from the surface of the earth. The Saudis see an opportunity to work with Israel to destroy Iran’s military capabilities. However, the Saudi regime has not even recognized Israel as a legitimate sovereign state.”
- Dr. Alyami states, “I am mystified and frustrated as to why Western democracies continue to unconditionally support and protect a regime and a system that promotes destruction of democracy and its empowering values.”
- “Saudi Arabia is considered the epicenter of extremism and terrorism by Muslims and non-Muslims.”
- “Domestically, Saudi Arabia is facing precarious economic and political predicaments. This is mostly due to a lack of modern management, utter lack of public participation in the decision-making process, marginalization of women, lack of investment in human development and in modern education – and to the systematic siphoning of the state’s vast oil revenues (rampant corruption) by an incredibly backward-thinking constellation of princes who consider the country their private property by birthright.”
- “Investors are leery of rampant corruption at the top. MBS has acquired a chateau in France for $300 million, a yacht for $500 million and a da Vinci painting of Christ for $450 million. This is happening while the disenfranchised population is being burdened with new taxes, elimination of subsidized social programs and price increases in water, electricity and other public services. In addition, an estimated 40-50% of the Saudi youth, especially women, are unemployed. This is a ticking bomb.”
- “As has been abundantly documented, lucrative economic gains are the primary motives for the U.S. and other Western governments, businesses, and educational institutions support for the Saudi and other anti-democratic wealthy Arab dynasties – as recently exemplified by President Trump’s decision to make Saudi Arabia his first choice to visit four months after he was elected President – signaling support of the absolute Saudi monarchy.”
Over the past year, the Trump administration secured Saudi arms sales of more than $17.9 billion. New regulations on arms sales will allow Riyadh to purchase drones from the U.S. with fewer restrictions. Saudi Arabia has pledged to spend $400 billion for U.S. equipment and other items. Hence, the Senate debate on the above mentioned Saudi arms sales.
In my June 1, 2017 The Times of Israel report, “Trump’s Middle East: Saudi Arabia Will Be Prominent Military Force, Not Israel,” the case was made why “deals” that will grow to $350 billion in defense cooperation were made. Among the speculation are the mutual interests of both the Saudi royal family and the Trump family in a post Trump presidency.
The Saudi arms deal is 7 times greater than any U.S. arms agreement with Israel. To think that Saudi Wahhabi Orthodox Islam can be convinced to be a “moderate” arm of Islam and fight the very terrorism that they have been funding is not only absurd, it’s dangerous. Saudi Arabia is the head of the snake with the potential to be more dangerous than Iran.
The disenfranchised youth of Saudi Arabia, if not provided education, jobs, or the public subsidies they have long depended on, will likely be the future Jihadists that terrorize Western Civilization.
It’s time to look under the covers on this U.S.-Saudi relationship for the real motives behind this “deal” making.
Lisa E. Benson
Foreign Policy Researcher, Commentator, Broadcaster, Educator