Ma­jor weapons mak­ers rat­tled over Saudi deals

Kuwait Times - - International -

WASH­ING­TON: Ma­jor US de­fense con­trac­tors have ex­pressed con­cern to the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion that law­mak­ers an­gered by the dis­ap­pear­ance of a Saudi jour­nal­ist in Turkey will block fur­ther arms deals with Saudi Ara­bia, a se­nior US of­fi­cial said yes­ter­day. Turk­ish re­ports that jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi, a vo­cal critic of Riyadh, was killed in­side the Saudi con­sulate in Is­tan­bul and re­moved have hard­ened re­sis­tance in the US Congress to sell­ing weapons to Saudi Ara­bia, al­ready a sore point for many law­mak­ers con­cerned about the Saudi role in Ye­men’s civil war.

Saudi Ara­bia re­jects the al­le­ga­tions in Turkey as base­less. US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said on Thurs­day he was wary of halt­ing arms sales to Riyadh be­cause of Khashoggi as it would just shift its weapons pur­chases to Rus­sia and China. Saudi Ara­bia, where Trump last year an­nounced a $110 bil­lion arms pack­age, has been a cen­ter­piece of his over­haul of weapons ex­port pol­icy in which he has gone fur­ther than any of his pre­de­ces­sors in act­ing as a weapons sales­man. How­ever, crit­ics say the new ap­proach gives too much weight to busi­ness in­ter­ests ver­sus hu­man rights con­cerns.

The se­nior U.S. of­fi­cial de­clined to iden­tify the com­pa­nies that had con­tacted the ad­min­is­tra­tion over their Saudi arms deals. De­fense con­trac­tors did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to re­quests for com­ment. Lock­heed Martin Corp and Raytheon Co have been the most ac­tive US de­fense com­pa­nies with po­ten­tial sales to Saudi Ara­bia since Trump an­nounced the pack­age as part of his “Buy Amer­i­can” agenda to cre­ate jobs at home.

In Congress, Democrats and Repub­li­cans alike are alarmed by the dis­ap­pear­ance of Khashoggi, a US res­i­dent who wrote col­umns for the Wash­ing­ton Post. He en­tered the con­sulate on Oct 2 to col­lect doc­u­ments for his planned mar­riage. Saudi of­fi­cials say Khashoggi left the build­ing shortly af­ter­wards, but his fi­ancee, Hat­ice Cen­giz, said he never re-ap­peared. — Reuters

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