Was the $110 billion US-Saudi arms deal 'fake news'?

Was the $110 billion US-Saudi arms deal 'fake news'?

In mid-May, President Donald Trump announced that he'd applied his legendary dealmaking skills to close one of the largest arms sales in history.

In January, the president promised to ensure that any profit associated with foreign governments doing businesses with the Trump Hotel would be given to the U.S. Treasury. "Hundreds of billions of dollars of investments into the United States and jobs, jobs, jobs". The State Department's Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which has to approve foreign arms sales, included so many caveats in its official announcement that it seemed to leave open the possibility of no transaction actually taking place at all. As Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) pointed out, "the Saudis are deliberately trying to create a starvation inside Yemen in order to essentially starve the Yemenis to the negotiating table" - and "the United States is participating". Further, the $110 billion price tag, it turned out, was far from a solid number.

Some analysts noted that the Saudi arms deal was too good to be true when it was first announced.

Not only did Riedel discover that there is no arms deal - and that numerous agreements Trump claimed credit for actually happened during the Obama administration - he also found that Saudi Arabia probably doesn't have the money to pay for a deal of such a size.

"I've spoken to contacts in the defense business and on the Hill, and all of them say the same thing: There is no $110 billion deal", Reidel writes. The Saudis have expressed interest in the system for several years but no contracts have been finalized. Many are offers that the defense industry thinks the Saudis will be interested in someday.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: "Only two months ago the Prime Minster was in Riyadh trying to sell weapons to the Saudi regime, which has some of the most abusive laws in the world".

An example is a proposal for sale of four frigates (called multi-mission surface combatant vessels) to the Royal Saudi navy.

The sale of 150 combat helicopters to the Saudis is, again, old news. Ben Cardin, Maryland Democrat, comes as the Senate is set to vote Thursday on a resolution of disapproval for the deal, which would represent a marked about-face for U.S. -Saudi relations after a tense period under former President Obama. Another piece is the Terminal High Altitude Air Defense system (THAAD) which was recently deployed in South Korea.

Riedel also points out that there is another very serious question about the $110 billion arrangement that isn't being addressed: whether the Saudis can afford it.

There are some deals, but no contracts signed, nothing that would allow a claim of a $110 billion deal.

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