Trump Fu­els Is­lamic Ter­ror­ism with $110 Bil­lion Arms Deal with Saudi Ara­bia

Trillions - - In This Issue -

Un­elected Pres­i­dent Trump’s trip to Saudi Ara­bia in May closed with a $110 bil­lion arms sale or­ches­trated by Trump’s Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kush­ner, but the deal is cer­tainly not in the best in­ter­ests of the Amer­i­can peo­ple or any­one else ex­cept the Saudi dic­ta­tor­ship.

The arms sale may in­deed be what some White House of­fi­cials have re­ferred to as “the sin­gle big­gest arms deal in his­tory.” It also bol­sters the U.S. po­si­tion as the world’s big­gest arms ex­porter, with about one-third (33%) of all global weapons sales in the five years end­ing in 2016. Its two big­gest com­peti­tors in that busi­ness are Rus­sia at #2 world­wide and China in the #3 po­si­tion (but ris­ing fast).

Al­though there is no of­fi­cial “war” to jus­tify the sales, the $110 bil­lion pack­age will help boost prof­its for the U.S. mil­i­tary-in­dus­trial com­plex. It also con­tin­ues to sup­port the past model of such sales, with 47% of all weapons ex­ported from the United States from 2011 to 2016 go­ing to three main buy­ers: Saudi Ara­bia, the United Arab Emi­rates (UAE) and Turkey.

Those con­cerned about the lack of a cur­rent war should not worry. The saber-rat­tling state­ments that were is­sued by the U.S. gov­ern­ment and the King­dom of Saudi Ara­bia – and di­rected against Iran – should al­low those re­ceiv­ing the weapons some diplo­matic sup­port for us­ing them sooner rather than later.

As the White House said in its is­sued com­ments on the $110 bil­lion set of con­tracts, “This pack­age of de­fense equip­ment and ser­vices sup­ports the long-term se­cu­rity of Saudi Ara­bia and the (Per­sian) Gulf re­gion in the face of Ira­nian threats while also bol­ster­ing the King­dom’s abil­ity to con­trib­ute to counter-ter­ror­ism op­er­a­tions across the re­gion, re­duc­ing the bur­den on the U.S. mil­i­tary to con­duct those op­er­a­tions.”

An in­ter­view ear­lier in the month on Al Ara­biya TV with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man also laid sim­i­lar ground­work for how the weapons might be used. In that dis­cus­sion, he was asked about the pos­si­bil­ity of ne­go­ti­at­ing peace with Iran and nor­mal­iz­ing re­la­tions. He re­jected both com­pletely, not­ing that di­rect Saudi mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion in Iran was a strong pos­si­bil­ity. He said, “We will not wait un­til the bat­tle is in Saudi Ara­bia, but we will work so the bat­tle is there in Iran.”

For those in­vest­ing in war, this rep­re­sents just an­other wave of a long-term trend in the re­gion. Thanks to ac­tual wars in lo­ca­tions like Syria, Iraq, Ye­men and Afghanistan, as well as the threat of hot war break­ing out else­where, this has been a ban­ner busi­ness for arms mer­chants. In the Mid­dle East alone, Qatar’s spend­ing is up 245% over five years ago, with Saudi Ara­bia’s pur­chases up 212%. Over­all arms sales to the Mid­dle East were up 86% in the same pe­riod.

Via the cur­rent con­tract, which has the po­ten­tial to ex­pand to $350 bil­lion over 10 years, Saudi Ara­bia will get ac­cess to many of the lat­est in mod­ern weaponry. Th­ese in­clude

150 Lock­heed Martin Black Hawk he­li­copters, with a to­tal of $6 bil­lion in sales (In­ter­est­ingly enough, this par­tic­u­lar con­tract ap­par­ently helps out those suf­fer­ing from a lack of jobs in Saudi Ara­bia, one of the wealth­i­est coun­tries in the world. It has a pro­vi­sion that sets up Saudi Ara­bia, not the United States, as the base for as­sem­bling those he­li­copters.)

four multi-mis­sion war­ships, with a to­tal con­tract value of $11.5 bil­lion

the roll­out of the THAAD (Ter­mi­nal – for­merly Theater – High Al­ti­tude Area De­fense) mis­sile, with a net value of $1 bil­lion

the sign­ing of agree­ments be­tween the United States and Saudi Ara­bia in sup­port of Saudi Ara­bia’s mis­sile de­fense pro­grams and help­ing strengthen its air and naval ca­pa­bil­i­ties

To carry out th­ese spe­cific deals and fa­cil­i­tate oth­ers, ex­pert arms mer­chants and other oli­garch sales rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the United States showed up along­side Trump at the event. Lock­heed Martin, Raytheon, Boe­ing, Dow Chem­i­cal, Cit­i­group, Exxon­mo­bil, Mor­gan Stan­ley and a va­ri­ety of oil ser­vices firms and in­vest­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions were present.

In par­al­lel with those deals and in Saudi Ara­bia at the same time as Trump’s visit, Gen­eral Elec­tric signed agree­ments of un­der­stand­ing worth around $15 bil­lion for a va­ri­ety of ser­vices and equip­ment. The com­pany also signed a con­tract to as­sist in a dig­i­tal over­haul of Saudi Aramco’s op­er­a­tions, a non-mil­i­tary deal that has the po­ten­tial of sav­ing Aramco $4 bil­lion ev­ery year.

Be­sides its pos­si­ble sup­port for overt mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions against Iran, now that it will be ac­quir­ing all this new weaponry, Saudi Ara­bia will also be well-po­si­tioned to con­tinue to fight and desta­bi­lize other ar­eas in the Mid­dle East.

No­table among th­ese has been its war with Ye­men, which it has been fight­ing since March 2015 to re­store for­mer pres­i­dent Abd Rab­buh Mansur Hadi, one of the Riyadh regime’s strong­est al­lies, back to power. That war, which has had far less cover­age in the West, has re­sulted in more than 12,000 deaths since it started. It no­tably in­cludes a ma­jor on­go­ing air-strike cam­paign against the Houthi coali­tions there us­ing glob­ally banned clus­ter mu­ni­tions.

The Saudi gov­ern­ment has cho­sen a less-di­rect in­ter­ven­tion path in Syria. There, it has been sup­port­ing the Tak­firi ter­ror­ist groups in a ma­jor ground civil war in­side the coun­try. Since Saudi Ara­bia be­gan sup­port of those groups back in 2011, an es­ti­mated hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple have died there and mil­lions have had to es­cape ei­ther within the coun­try or out­side its bor­ders.

U.S. politi­cians al­most al­ways de­fend their fight for strong do­mes­tic mil­i­tary spend­ing on the grounds that it sup­ports “democ­racy and the Amer­i­can way of life. ”For Saudi Ara­bia, be­sides fight­ing wars, the new weapons pro­vided by the United States will also help Riyadh sup­port its to­tal­i­tar­ian regime and the Saudi way of life.

That way of life in­cludes one of the most re­pres­sive regimes against women in gen­eral. The fol­low­ing are some ex­am­ples of that re­pres­sion:

Women are not al­lowed to drive. Saudi cler­ics say that fe­male driv­ers “un­der­mine so­cial val­ues” and there­fore would be a desta­bi­liz­ing force if they drove. A lift of the ban was pro­posed in 2014 – but only for women who don’t wear makeup, are over 30 and don’t drive af­ter 8 p.m.

Only 15% of women have jobs out­side the home. Higher-level jobs, such as the le­gal pro­fes­sion, were un­avail­able to women un­til 2013. The sit­u­a­tion is so bad that multi­na­tional Olayan Fi­nanc­ing Co., one of the com­pa­nies present in Saudi Ara­bia with the high­est per­cent­age of women, em­ploys women for only 3% of all its avail­able jobs.

Women in Saudi Ara­bia are not al­lowed to vote in any na­tional elec­tions. They were only given the right to vote as of De­cem­ber 2015, but even then it was only for mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions.

Un­re­lated women and men are not al­lowed to be to­gether just about any­where in pub­lic. In those cases, the women are al­most al­ways con­sid­ered the ones at fault, with pun­ish­ment espe­cially hard for mar­ried women con­sort­ing even by sit­ting in the near vicin­ity of men who are not their hus­bands. What this means, for those women ei­ther lucky enough to get a job or win an elec­tion, is that they may soon find them­selves un­der pres­sure to re­sign from ei­ther of th­ese po­si­tions so as to avoid be­ing around the other sex.

Hu­man-rights vi­o­la­tions are also plen­ti­ful in the King­dom of Saudi Ara­bia. Those who openly chal­lenge de­ci­sions and/or op­pres­sive moves made by the Riyadh gov­ern­ment are of­ten charged and im­pris­oned for many years. Re­li­gious mi­nori­ties are also dis­crim­i­nated against through­out the coun­try. The pun­ish­ment for such crimes is of­ten extreme and ter­ri­fy­ing, with the gov­ern­ment in 2016 alone hav­ing car­ried out 154 ex­e­cu­tions, 23 of which were for non-vi­o­lent drug crimes.

Fi­nally, there is the is­sue of the sup­port of ter­ror­ism by Saudi Ara­bia. Saudi Ara­bia is the pri­mary source of Is­lamic ter­ror­ism and the arms sold to Saudi Ara­bia will cer­tainly be used to pro­mote mil­i­tant Wah­habism and sup­port ter­ror­ists.

Ac­cord­ing to an op-ed by a Mus­lim, pub­lished in The New York Times,

Let’s be clear: Al Qaeda, the Is­lamic State in Iraq and Syria, Boko Haram, the Shabab and oth­ers are all vi­o­lent Sunni Salafi group­ings. For five decades, Saudi Ara­bia has been the of­fi­cial spon­sor of Sunni Salafism across the globe.

Most Sunni Mus­lims around the world, ap­prox­i­mately 90% of the Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion, are not Salafis. Salafism is seen as too rigid, too lit­er­al­ist, too de­tached from main­stream Is­lam. While Shi­ite and other de­nom­i­na­tions ac­count for 10% of the to­tal, Salafi ad­her­ents and other fun­da­men­tal­ists rep­re­sent 3% of the world’s Mus­lims.

Plus, the Saudi Ara­bian gov­ern­ment, long known to have been a be­hind-the-scenes spon­sor of the 9/11 at­tacks against the United States, headed by Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda and his peo­ple, is fi­nally be­ing taken to court for its role. It took a long time for U.S. leg­is­la­tion to al­low for chal­leng­ing the Saudis on th­ese is­sues, but now that the ap­pro­pri­ate statutes are in place, the much-de­layed law­suits are mov­ing for­ward as of March 2017. One is on be­half of 800 fam­i­lies di­rectly im­pacted by the 9/11 at­tacks on the United States. A sec­ond comes from a group of in­surance com­pa­nies look­ing to col­lect over $10 bil­lion in dam­ages di­rectly or in­di­rectly caused by the at­tacks. De­fen­dants in this lat­ter case in­clude the Al Ra­jhi Bank, the Na­tional Com­mer­cial Bank, Dal­lah Avco (an avi­a­tion con­trac­tor), the Mo­hammed Bin­ladin Co., the Mus­lim World League and oth­ers. See “The 9/11 Law­suits Against the Saudis Are Hap­pen­ing for Real Now,” from the May is­sue of Tril­lions, for more de­tails on that lit­i­ga­tion in par­tic­u­lar.

Why are Trump and his cor­po­rate spon­sors so ea­ger to sup­port the most bar­baric form of Is­lam and fuel ter­ror­ism that will in­evitably strike the Amer­i­can peo­ple again? Is it just greed and cor­rup­tion or is there an­other layer of evil and in­san­ity at work?

Im­age by Soosay

Some of the many vic­tims of Amer­ica's weapons in Saudi hands will be kids like th­ese girls in Ye­men, who are slaugh­tered be­cause some in their coun­try re­sist Saudi Wah­habism be­ing forced on them. Im­age by Gerry & Bonnl, CC

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