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White House Close to Finalizing More Than $100 Billion in Arms Sales to Saudis


May 15, 2017
AntiWar.com & Reuters

US officials said the US was seeking to reach "billions" of dollars in arms sales to Saudi Arabia as part of Trump's visit to Riyadh. Details are still emerging, but the plan is for this to set out a series of growing deals over the next decade that will involve more than $300 billion going to arms dealers, not just to arm the Saudis, but in extra aid to Israel to ensure their "qualitative military edge" over the Saudis. White House officials said the move would be good for the economy.

http://news.antiwar.com/2017/05/14/white-house-close-to-finalizing-over-100-billion-in-arms-sales-to-saudis/



White House Close to Finalizing Over
$100 Billion in Arms Sales to Saudis

Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

(May 14, 2017) -- Earlier this month, US officials said the US was seeking to reach "billions" of dollars in arms sales to Saudi Arabia as part of Trump's visit to Riyadh. With a week left before the visit, officials now say the White House is very close to the deal, and that it will amount to over $100 billion in sales.

Details are still emerging, but the plan is for this to set out a series of growing deals over the next decade that will involve more than $300 billion going to arms dealers, not just to arm the Saudis, but in extra aid to Israel to ensure their "qualitative military edge" over the Saudis.

White House officials said the move would be good for the economy, and insisted that building Saudi Arabia's already substantial military was "essential" because of regional problems. Saudi Arabia, of course, spends much of its military budget invading Yemen and trying to reinstall former President Hadi in power.

Given Saudi Arabia's Yemen-centric foreign policy, US sales are likely to be heavily on warplanes and bombs to drop on northern Yemen, as the conflict has lasted far longer than the Saudis anticipated, and there is little sign they are interested iin extricating themselves from the conflict anytime soon.

How much this means Israel will get greatly depends on the sort of weapons the US is giving Saudi Arabia, and particularly if there is anything "new" in the shipments, or just more of the same old stuff. The US commitment to ensuring Israel has an advantage over the rest of the Middle East militarily, while at the same time selling large amounts of arms to the rest of the Middle East, has been icing on the cake for US arms makers, who end up supplying all sides of this arms race.


US Nears $100 Billion Arms Deal
For Saudi Arabia: White House Official

Steve Holland / Reuters

WASHINGTON (May 12, 2017) -- The United States is close to completing a series of arms deals for Saudi Arabia totaling more than $100 billion, a senior White House official said on Friday, a week ahead of President Donald Trump's planned visit to Riyadh.

The official, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the arms package could end up surpassing more than $300 billion over a decade to help Saudi Arabia boost its defensive capabilities while still maintaining US ally Israel's qualitative military edge over its neighbors.

"We are in the final stages of a series of deals," the official said. The package is being developed to coincide with Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia. Trump leaves for the kingdom on May 19, the first stop on his maiden international trip.

Reuters reported last week that Washington was pushing through contracts for tens of billions of dollars in arms sales to Saudi Arabia, some new, others already in the pipeline, ahead of Trump's visit.

The United States has been the main supplier for most Saudi military needs, from F-15 fighter jets to command and control systems worth tens of billions of dollars in recent years. Trump has vowed to stimulate the US economy by boosting manufacturing jobs.

The package includes American arms and maintenance, ships, air missile defense and maritime security, the official said. "We'll see a very substantial commitment . . . In many ways it is intended to build capabilities for the threats they face."

The official added: "It's good for the American economy but it will also be good in terms of building a capability that is appropriate for the challenges of the region. Israel would still maintain an edge."

While in Riyadh, the official said Trump would attend three major events: A series of meeting with Saudi officials, a separate session with leaders of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council and a lunch with Arab and Muslim leaders, 56 of whom have been invited, to discuss combating extremism and cracking down on illicit financing.

Trump will discuss how to counter the threat from Islamic State militants, the war in Yemen and threats of ballistic missiles and maritime shipping in the Red Sea, the official said.

US Navy commanders have accused Iran of jeopardizing international navigation by "harassing" warships passing through the Strait of Hormuz. Gulf Arab states are optimistic about Trump whom they see as a hawkish leader opposed to their adversary Iran.

A major part of the agenda with Gulf leaders will be the Syrian civil war amid calls for "de-escalation zones" in Syria to provide a safe haven for Syrian refugees.

Besides Saudi Arabia, Trump's first foreign trip will also include visits to Israel, the Vatican, Brussels for a NATO summit and Sicily for a Group of Seven summit.


Saudi Arabia, US in Talks on Billions in Arms Sales
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

(May 5, 2017) -- Reports from US officials familiar with the situation say that the Trump Administration is working to push through billions of dollars in arms sales to Saudi Arabia in the next week or two, with an eye toward having the pacts finalized before Trump's visit to Riyadh later this month.

Massive civilian death tolls in the Saudi war in Yemen have led some in Congress, as well as a number of human rights groups, to push the US and Saudi Arabia's other arms dealers to cut back on certain sales related to the war for fear they involve the commission of war crimes.

President Obama had willingly limited the sales a little bit at the very end of his administration, though President Trump has since moved to reverse that, insisting that it would "repair" the relationship damaged by the extremely limited moves by his predecessor to limit the Saudis' slaughter in Yemen.

With the Saudis looking to spend ever more on war, and the Pentagon looking to join in on the Yemen attack, the Trump Administration appears all too eager to look the other way of the matter of a few thousand civilians killed here or there, particularly if it means he can brag up billions in new sales during his upcoming visit.


Saudi Arabia, US in Talks on
Billions in Arms Sales -- US Sources

Mike Stone / Reuters

WASHINGTON (May 5, 2017) -- Washington is working to push through contracts for tens of billions of dollars in arms sales to Saudi Arabia, some new, others in the pipeline, ahead of US President Donald Trump's trip to the kingdom this month, people familiar with the talks told Reuters this week.

Saudi Arabia is Trump's first stop on his maiden international trip, a sign of his intent to reinforce ties with a top regional ally.

The United States has been the main supplier for most Saudi military needs, from F-15 fighter jets to command and control systems worth tens of billions of dollars in recent years. Trump has vowed to stimulate the US economy by boosting manufacturing jobs.

Washington and Riyadh are eager to improve relations strained under President Barack Obama in part because of his championing of a nuclear deal with Saudi foe Iran.

Lockheed Martin Co (LMT.N) programs in the package include a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system with several batteries, the sources said. The THAAD system, like the one being made operational in South Korea, costs about $1 billion. Also being negotiated is a C2BMC software system for battle command and control and communications as well as a package of satellite capabilities, both provided by Lockheed.

Combat vehicles made by BAE Systems PLC (BAES.L), including the Bradley Fighting Vehicle and M109 artillery vehicle, are also under consideration as part of the Saudi package, people familiar with the talks said. Both vehicles are in the Saudi inventory. British defense company BAE has 29,000 employees in the United States.

The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the negotiations, which also include previously reported contracts or items under discussion for years. One such deal, an $11.5 billion package of four multi-mission surface combatant ships and accompanying services and spares, was approved by the State Department in 2015. Talks followed to hammer out capabilities, configuration and design for the complex warships but the deal has never gone to final contract.

The next step for the ships is likely a letter of agreement between the two countries, the sources said.

Versions of the ship used by the US Navy, the Littoral Combat Ship, are built by Bethesda, Maryland-based weapons maker Lockheed Martin and Australia's Austal Ltd (ASB.AX). If a deal goes through, it would be the first sale of a new small surface warship to a foreign power in decades. Any major foreign weapons sale is subject to oversight by Congress. Lawmakers must take into consideration a legal requirement that Israel must maintain its qualitative military edge over its neighbors.

Also, more than $1 billion worth of munitions including armor-piercing Penetrator Warheads and Paveway laser-guided bombs made by Raytheon Co (RTN.N) are in the package, the sources said. The Obama administration suspended the planned sale because of concerns over the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen and civilian casualties.

A US administration official said the proposed Raytheon sale was still undergoing interagency review. Representatives for BAE and Raytheon declined to comment on the sales. A Lockheed representative said such sales are government-to-government decisions and the status of any potential discussions can be best addressed by the US government.

A representative for the Saudi embassy in Washington declined to comment.

Shares of both Raytheon and Lockheed closed up 0.9 percent. Both stocks hit session highs following the Reuters report.

vFLURRY OF ACTIVITY
One of the people with knowledge of the sales said that as planning for Trump's trip to Saudi Arabia intensified in recent weeks, the arms negotiations also accelerated. Two US officials said a US-Saudi working group met at the White House Monday and Tuesday to negotiate the trip, as well as financing for military equipment sales and stopping terrorist financing.

Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir and other Saudi officials met with lawmakers at the Capitol on Thursday, including Senators Bob Corker and Ben Cardin on the foreign relations committee.

The Pentagon declined to comment. White House and State Department officials said it was US policy not to comment on proposed US defense sales until they had been formally notified to Congress.

The Obama administration had offered Saudi Arabia more than $115 billion in weapons. Most of the Obama-era offers, which are reported to Congress, became formal agreements though some were abandoned or amended.

Washington also provides maintenance and training to Saudi security forces.

(Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed, John Walcott, Warren Strobel, Patricia Zengerle and Jonathan Landay.)

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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