US, Saudi CEOs Sign $20B Deals in NYC as Protesters Condemn Catastrophic War on Yemen

200 corporate executives dined at the Saudi-US CEO Forum in New York City alongside Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, while protesters outside called for an end to the devastating war on Yemen – Ben Norton reports.

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Story Transcript

BEN NORTON: Top corporate executives from the United States and Saudi Arabia met in New York City to sign tens of billions of dollars worth of deals.

Meanwhile, protesters outside the opulent event called for an end to the joint U.S.-Saudi war on Yemen, which has fueled the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Yemeni civilians and unleashed the largest humanitarian catastrophe on Earth.

More than 200 capitalists joined Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for a lavish dinner at the second annual Saudi-US CEO Forum, on Tuesday, March 27.

Officials from some of the world’s most powerful corporations, including tech giant Google, military contractor Raytheon, and mega-bank JP Morgan, signed 36 agreements totaling more than $20 billion. And more deals are on their way.

Saudi oil giant Aramco alone made deals worth more than $10 billion with 14 U.S. companies.

The event featured top Saudi regime officials and the CEOs of Pepsi, National Geographic, and Dow Chemical.

The corporate media had a significant presence as well. Panels were moderated by the editor-in-chief of the Wall Street Journal and prominent journalists from CNBC and Bloomberg.

While the Huffington Post has reported on Saudi Arabia’s US-backed war crimes in Yemen, the news outlet’s founder Arianna Huffington spoke at the Saudi-US CEO Forum. She praised Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 plan and offered advice as to how the repressive Saudi absolute monarchy can “leapfrog the industrialized world.”

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: I believe that Saudi Arabia has a great opportunity to leapfrog the industrialized world and learn from the mistakes we’ve made. Why all that Vision 2030 goals are being put into effect, and to see the incredible results that will generate.

BEN NORTON: Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman also made an appearance, as part of his trip to New York to meet with American political and economic elites, like Bill Clinton and the CEOs of Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Morgan Stanley.

The Saudi-US CEO Forum, and the Saudi embassy in the United States, trumpeted the growing alliance under Donald Trump and the draconian crown prince.

This is a clip from a video they produced for the event.

Yet, while these ultra-rich capitalists dined in luxury in Manhattan, the United States and Saudi Arabia were continuing their brutal bombing and blockade of Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East.

Protesters from Action Corps NYC, Democratic Socialists of America, and the Yemeni community stood outside the event in the cold for several hours, highlighting the devastation of the ongoing US-Saudi war on Yemen.

PROTESTER: We’re very concerned about the humanitarian disaster in Yemen. We welcome you here today to bear witness to what is happening, to help our fellow New Yorkers and the business leaders of our country understand what is going on. We are in a position where we can see this incredible injustice, and we have an opportunity here tonight.

PROTESTER: We stand for justice. We stand here to say that bombing Yemen is the worst thing that ever happened in this country for decades, for 5000 years. This has been the biggest humanitarian disaster ever. We’re standing up until we get results out of these criminals.

PROTESTER: Billions of dollars, billions of dollars from Obama, from Trump, from way past, have been given to the Saudis and to other people in the Middle East. Why? Because the oil, and the natural gas, the oil routes. And it’s going to keep going on even worse than it has been before.

We have to condemn, those of us born here, we have to condemn the U.S. and Britain and France for the bombs and the bombing of Yemen. We have to call on this government to end it, and I’m with her. We have to condemn all of the capitalists all over the world. And the working class in Yemen are our brothers and sisters.

How can we watch these images of children with little legs that are this big. These guys are eating, but the people in Yemen are not eating. And the children are dying of cholera. Are you angry?

PROTESTER: Today we came here to say it exactly to the Congress, more than anyone else, we’re saying to the Congress, especially Bernie Sanders, we send a clear message. We heard your voice, and we are with you to the end.

Every American. Every American citizen have to push behind the Congress because this is a deal of money. Trump, he don’t care. What he cares is about money. He want to take money from the Saudi Arabia. Doesn’t matter who’s dying. Mr. Trump on one side, Saudi Arabia on one side. That’s all they care is about money. It doesn’t matter how they get the money. At the expenses of blood.

PROTESTER: He’s a murderer; he’s a children murder. He kills thousands, thousands of innocent children, and innocent people. He bombs residents, cities.

BEN NORTON: Protesters also stressed that it is the United States that is ultimately calling the shots, and Saudi Arabia can only wage this war because it has U.S. support.

PROTESTER: The tail doesn’t wag the dog. The dog is in Washington. The dog is the one who’s providing the targets. They say it’s precision bombs, but their precision bombs, they’re deliberately bombing hospitals, all kinds of civilian sites. This is our government doing this, not we, but the government that controls this country.

And the problem is feeling so small. I think we’re so small because a lot of people really don’t know about this war. It’s in the New York Times from time to time, but you don’t see it on the media.

The wars are not on the media anymore. The ruling class learned from the Vietnam war to keep them off the television. The Saudi regime has helped the United States with its rotten wars in Afghanistan, Syria, against Syria, against Libya, to destroy these countries and turn them into rebels. So this is not a new thing.

This is a continuation of a collaboration that the Gulf states, they are being used. So this is not just about this guy. It’s about him being a flunky for some very powerful people who run this country, who run the media, and keep this war from people. But it’s our job to kind of agitate people about this so we can stop them.

BEN NORTON: Reporting for the Real News, I’m Ben Norton.