US arms sale to Saudi Arabia

January 16, 2008

Aijaz Ahmad: What is the reason for massive sale of arms to Saudi Arabia?

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Aijaz Ahmad: What is the reason for massive sale of arms to Saudi Arabia?


Story Transcript

ZAA NKWETA, PRESENTER: On Monday, the Bush administration announced to Congress its plan to sell $123 million in sophisticated precision-guided bomb delivery systems to Saudi Arabia.


NEWS HOST 1: Meanwhile, the president wants to sell precision-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia.

NEWS HOST 2: … the announcement of a major new arms deal with the Saudis … the president has called a major ally.


The sale is part of a $20 billion arms package for US allies in the Persian Gulf. To further analyze the situation, we go to Real News Senior News Analyst Aijaz Ahmad.

AIJAZ AHMAD, SENIOR NEWS ANALYST: This new announcement again raises the question of why countries like Saudi Arabia which do not have very highly developed armed forces need armament of this kind and in such quantities. There are probably three or four explanations for this. One is that since about 1980, when Saudi Arabia was flush with petrodollars, they have been buying these weapons partly to give themselves a sense that they are becoming an important military power. But from the standpoint of the United States, essentially to re-circulate petrodollars and use petrodollars to sustain American armament industry. Moreover, every time bills of this kind, sales of this kind to Saudi Arabia and other countries—Egypt, Kuwait, and others—comes up in the Congress, that becomes yet another reason for arguing that Israel needs to get even more sophisticated weapons in order to keep a certain balance of power and to ensure Israeli security in the region. But the question still remains: why do these countries, which don’t have the armed forces which can conceivably use these armament systems of such sophistication, need to accumulate these weapons? And inevitably one feels that this armament is being prepositioned in the Gulf region for use by the United States itself. Prepositioning of the weapons takes place, I believe, in order to ensure a contingency in which the United States’ forces can move in very quickly and take hold of this armament in case the US needs to intervene either in Saudi Arabia or in a regional conflict nearby. The Saudi government is essentially very unstable. It fears a coup from its own armed forces. It fears a situation in which the Islamicist opposition of the jihadi kind poses a very major security threat to itself. It essentially envisions a day when it might need to turn to the United States for helping it in case of an insurgency or an external threat of that kind, very much on the model of the Gulf War, where the United States moved very quickly to restore the Kuwaiti monarchy and essentially placed some 500,000 troops on Saudi soil. The United States at the moment is arguing to all of these countries that they face a very major threat from Iran, which none of these countries is buying. But in case the United States moves towards a real military intervention towards Iran, it needs to have these prepositioned weapons in the region. So I believe that sales of these weapons are not so much for the Saudi armed forces as for the security of the Saudi regime by the United States itself.


Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.