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Saudi Arabia Is the World’s Top Arms Buyer

Saudi Arabia Is the World’s Top Arms Buyer

Saudis increased purchases 192% over five years Jason Ditz Posted on March 10, 2019Categories NewsTags Saudi Arabia

Most reports on international arms sales focus on the biggest sellers. That inevitably means the United States, the largest exporter by far in the growing market. You can’t have sales without buyers, however, and that side of the equation centers heavily on the Middle East. 

Middle Eastern countries now buy more than a third of all global arms. The biggest customer not just in the Middle East but in the world, is Saudi Arabia,whose purchases have soared 192% over a five year period. 

Locked in an endless war in Yemen, and always looking toward a war with Iran, Saudi Arabia has seen its military spending soar in recent years. Recent estimates have put Saudi Arabia at the third costliest military on Earth, behind on the US and China, and ahead of Russia. 

Unlike the US, China, or Russia, however, Saudi Arabia lacks a huge decades-old military-industrial complex to make all their weapons of war. Instead, the Saudis are pouring into overseas contracts, buying vast amounts of arms from the US and Britain. 

The Saudis show no sign of slowing down on this, but it isn’t clear how sustainable this is either. Already, Saudi war crimes are fueling a lot of calls to rethink arms sales to them. On top of that, the Saudis are spending 10% of their annual GDP on a mostly-imported military, which is a heavy burden for their economy to bear.

The Global Economy and Political Murder: Why Trudeau Won’t Stop Arms Sales to Saudis

The Global Economy and Political Murder: Why Trudeau Won’t Stop Arms Sales to Saudis

Photo Source 2017 Canada Summer Games | CC BY 2.0

Almost 5,000 miles from the city in which his corpse was secretly buried – in one piece or in bits – by his Saudi killers, Jamal Khashoggi’s murder now rattles the scruples and the purse-strings of yet another country. For Canada, land of the free and liberal conscience – especially under Justin Trudeau – is suddenly confronted by the fruits of the bright young prime minister’s Conservative predecessors and a simple question of conscience for cash: should Trudeau tear up a 2014 military deal with Saudi Arabia worth $12bn?

When Ottawa decided to sell its spanking new light armoured vehicles (LAVs) to the Saudi kingdom, the Saudis already had a well-earned reputation for chopping off heads and supporting raving and well-armed Islamists. But Mohammed bin Salman had not yet ascended the crown princedom of this pious state. The Saudis had not yet invaded Yemen, chopped off the heads of its Shia leaders, imprisoned its own princes, kidnapped the Lebanese prime minister and dismembered Khashoggi.

So the Conservative Canadian government of Stephen Harper had no scruples about flogging off its LAVs – as these little armoured monsters are called – to Riyadh, specifically for the “transport and protection” of government officials.

Now you can hardly accuse Trudeau of being a supporter of the Saudi regime. Back in August, Mohammed bin Salman’s lads ordered the expulsion of the Canadian ambassador to Riyadh and closed down trade agreements with Canada after Trudeau’s foreign minister had complained about the arrest of women’s rights campaigners in the kingdom. The Canadians had made “false statements”, claimed the Saudis – whose own reputation for false statements would soon achieve proportions worthy of a Hollywood horror epic. Trudeau was in the Saudi doghouse as well as Washington’s because, only two months earlier, Trump had called him “dishonest and weak”.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Assassination as a Criminal Tool by the Powerful Against the Weak and Oppressed

Assassination as a Criminal Tool by the Powerful Against the Weak and Oppressed

Photo Source James N. Mattis | CC BY 2.0

Only recently a spat between Saudi Arabia and Canada made headlines as a result of the Saudi Government’s beheading of a Myanmar guest worker. After the public barbaric and gruesome decapitation, the corpse was crucified on a horizontal post with the truncated head slung in a bag adjacent to the victim’s mutilated corpse.

This is the 21st century, and these are Donald Trump’s BFFs.

I suppose that investing $110 billion in lethal weapons, the purchase of Trump apartments, and real estate deals by Saudis flush with cash exonerates Saudi Arabia’s cold blooded murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the thousands of Saudis and Yemeni dead.

The Saudi penchant for beheadings is intended to put the fear of Allah in Saudi citizens and to quash any criticism of a royal family living high on the khanzir (hog), and a family that is squandering its national wealth on palaces, yachts, jets, expensive vacations abroad, casinos, and a luxurious lifestyle not unlike Harun al-Rashid’s celebrated 9th century epoch.

In 2015 the Saudi Government beheaded 158 people; in 2016, 154 people; and in 2017, 146 people – for any number of crimes deemed offensive to the tenets of the ultra-conservative Wahhabi doctrine. And in the first four months of 2018, 32 people were beheaded. The infractions include drug charges, political activism, critiquing the royal family, murder, and rape.

Because of the financial power they yield around the world, the Saudis thought they could get away with an assassination in far-away Istanbul, Turkey.  The fifteen-member assassination team, including a saw wielding forensic scientist, have allegedly killed, beheaded, and dismembered an international journalist  who’s been a thorn in the Saudi theocratic dictatorship.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Trump Says Blocking Saudi Arms Sales Would Be “Hurting Us” When Asked About Khashoggi

It’s not exactly a shocker, but does still serve to confirm just what interests actually drive American foreign policy and no it has nothing to do with “sticking up for human rights” or “punishing rogue regimes”.

In fact a regime can literally lure a prominent journalist to its embassy, murder him and chop him up into pieces, and then cart the body out of a foreign country — as the fast mounting evidence increasingly confirms in the case of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi — and the US may not so much as bat and eyelash.

President Trump told “Fox News Night” on Wednesday that he wants to know what happened to Khashoggi but expressed reluctance when it comes to blocking arms sales to the kingdom.

 “I think that would be hurting us,” Trump said.

“We have jobs, we have a lot of things happening in this country. We have a country that’s doing probably better economically than it’s ever done before.”

Ironically this all comes a mere days after on Trump last Sunday said the Saudi king wouldn’t last “two weeks” without American support. The statements also come just as a bipartisan group of Congressional leaders are demanding a federal probe into Khashoggi’s disappearance and alleged murder that could lead to sanctions on the longtime close US ally.

The president continued: “Part of that is what we’re doing with our defense systems and everybody’s wanting them. And frankly I think that that would be a very, very tough pill to swallow for our country. I mean, you’re affecting us and, you know, they’re always quick to jump that way.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

New WikiLeaks Release Exposes Corruption in UAE Arms Deal Fueling War on Yemen

New WikiLeaks Release Exposes Corruption in UAE Arms Deal Fueling War on Yemen

Though the corruption detailed in the newly leaked document took place decades ago, it highlights how lucrative arms deals are often enough incentive for governments to bend the rules in order to keep weapons and cash flowing, no matter the consequences.

A Blank Check for Repression? A Saudi Leader Visits Washington

A Blank Check for Repression? A Saudi Leader Visits Washington

It’s a classic narrative: the foreign dignitary of a US ally visits Washington, the Pentagon and State Department are intent on selling him a large weapons package, a munitions maker seeks to capitalize on the visit, some senators resist and point to how US weapons are being used by that ally to kill civilians, and the administration answers that the US is not “a party” to the hostilities and must show good faith to the ally or risk losing its favor.

This is the Saudi Arabia story as its new leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, comes to Washington. His country, as I have reported more than a few times, is valued by the Trump administration for several reasons, none of them compelling: a “bulwark” against Iran’s Shiite regime, thus an unofficial partner to Israel in a nonexistent peace process; a major oil producer; a longtime customer for US weapons, in the billions of dollars (recall last year’s $110-billion arms package); the senior partner to the US in the bloody war in Yemen (an estimated 10,000 civilian casualties); and, perhaps most importantly these days, a good friend to private investors, starting with the Real-Estate-Agents-in-Chief, Donald Trump and Jared Kushner.

Now this Saudi leader, hailed as a modernizer and reformer in some media, expects a warm welcome—and the chance to purchase another $1 billion in weapons, including Raytheon Corporation’s precision-guided munitions. He will thus gain US endorsement to more efficiently carry out war crimes in Yemen, a country in collapse and in the midst of cholera and malnutrition epidemics. All this largesse to maintain US “influence” and help make the Middle East more “stable.”

Back in the day, the Obama administration came, belatedly to be sure, to the conclusion that constant support of the Saudis had been mistaken and should no longer be allowed to get in the way of other US interests. One of those was pursuing a nuclear agreement with Iran. (The full story is in Trita Parsi’s Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran, and the Triumph of Diplomacy.) Under Trump, however, that direction has been reversed. Not only is Saudi Arabia very much in favor; it benefits from the administration’s determination early on to loosen restrictions on arms sales abroad in order to make US arms manufacturer’s more competitive.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Under Trump, U.S. Still Leads World’s Arms Exporters–And Yemenis Are Still Paying the Price

Saudi soldiers stand by in an airfield as a Saudi Air Force cargo plane lands at an airfield in Yemen's northeastern province of Marib on January 26, 2018.The Saudi-led Arab coalition to oust Huthi rebels had pledged $1.5 billion in new aid for Yemen after the United Nations launched a record appeal to address what it says is the world's worst humanitarian crisis.More than three-quarters of Yemen's 29 million population need humanitarian aid, with some 8.4 million at risk of famine, the UN humanitarian affairs office has said. / AFP PHOTO / ABDULLAH AL-QADRY (Photo credit should read ABDULLAH AL-QADRY/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo: Abdullah Al-Qadry/AFP/Getty Images

UNDER TRUMP, U.S. STILL LEADS WORLD’S ARMS EXPORTERS — AND YEMENIS ARE STILL PAYING THE PRICE

UNDER THE TRUMP administration, the U.S. government and weapons manufacturers are making a killing through arms sales to other countries. A report released by the Security Assistance Monitor documented that more than $80 billion worth of arm sales notifications were sent to Congress in 2017.

The massive arms sales during President Donald Trump’s first year in office amounted to $5.7 billion more than the Obama administration proposed during its final year in 2016. Barack Obama’s banner year for sales, 2010, saw $102 billion worth of government-to-government sales proposed.

The U.S. was responsible for 34 percent of the entire world’s arms exports from 2013 to 2017.

Owing to the spate of large sales under both administrations, the U.S. has maintained its role as the biggest arms exporter in the world. In a report released on Monday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, or SIPRI, an international institute researching conflict and armaments, the U.S. was responsible for 34 percent of the entire world’s arms exports from 2013 to 2017. Russia follows with 22 percent of the world’s exports.

All the while, U.S. arms manufacturing corporations have been raking in tremendous amounts of cash. Stocks for Lockheed Martin – ranked first for arm sales in 2016 by SIPRI – have been steadily on the rise since 2013. Stocks for the Boeing Company, which ranks second, have also been on the rise since 2013, but rose at an accelerated pace in 2017.

The report from the Security Assistance Monitor, a program of the Center for International Policy that tracks and analyzes U.S. security assistance programs worldwide, notes another difference between the Obama and Trump administration sale proposals: the types of equipment offered to foreign governments. The most significant sale offers under the Obama administration were for military aircraft, while in the first year of the Trump administration, missile and bomb sales dominated.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Saudi Arabia top non-U.S. destination for Canadian arms exports: federal report

LAVs (light armoured vehicles) and components similar to the one pictured above are among the top military exports Canada sends to Saudi Arabia.

LAVs (light armoured vehicles) and components similar to the one pictured above are among the top military exports Canada sends to Saudi Arabia. (Bill Graveland/Canadian Press)

Saudi Arabia has regained its title as Canada’s top non-U.S. destination for exporting military goods after having been narrowly bumped last year by the United Kingdom, according to a federal report on arms sales.

The report, prepared by Global Affairs Canada and tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, reveals that the Saudi government purchased over $142 million worth of Canadian arms in 2016. That accounted for nearly 20 per cent of all Canadian munitions exports reported in the annual filing.

The report does not factor in arms exports to the United States, due to a long-standing exemption agreement. However, as stated in the report, as a general rule shipments to the U.S. account for nearly 50 per cent of all military good exports from Canada.

military exports indexed 2016

The total value of military goods sold abroad to countries other than the U.S. last year nearly reached $718 million. Canada’s NATO partners and traditional allies made up the bulk of the export market, including Australia, which purchased $115.8 million of Canadian-made equipment — second behind Saudi Arabia.

The sales to Saudi Arabia, however, will likely the draw the most attention and potential criticism from human rights groups, which have fought a protracted battle to halt the $14.8-billion sale of light armoured vehicles by General Dynamics Land Systems Canada — a deal approved by the former Conservative government, but green-lit by the Liberals.

The executive director for the anti-armament group Project Ploughshares says the most recent report once again signals an unwillingness on the part of the government to change its stance on Saudi Arabia.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Wolf Blitzer Is Worried Defense Contractors Will Lose Jobs if U.S. Stops Arming Saudi Arabia

SEN. RAND PAUL’S expression of opposition to a $1.1 billion U.S. arms sale to Saudi Arabia — which has been brutally bombing civilian targets in Yemen using U.S.-made weapons for more than a year now — alarmed CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Thursday afternoon.

Blitzer’s concern: That stopping the sale could result in fewer jobs for arms manufacturers.

“So for you this is a moral issue,” he told Paul during the Kentucky Republican’s appearance on CNN. “Because you know, there’s a lot of jobs at stake. Certainly if a lot of these defense contractors stop selling war planes, other sophisticated equipment to Saudi Arabia, there’s going to be a significant loss of jobs, of revenue here in the United States. That’s secondary from your standpoint?”

Paul stayed on message. “Well not only is it a moral question, its a constitutional question,” Paul said. “Our founding fathers very directly and specifically did not give the president the power to go to war. They gave it to Congress. So Congress needs to step up and this is what I’m doing.”

Watch the exchange:

Saudi Arabia began bombing Yemen in March 2015, and has since been responsible for the majority of the 10,000 deaths in the war so far. The U.S.-backed bombing coalition has been accused of intentionally targeting civilians, hospitals, factories, markets, schools, and homes. The situation is so bad that the Red Cross has started donating morgue units to Yemeni hospitals.

The war’s incredible humanitarian toll has generated an increasing outcry in the United States. Earlier this month, more than 60 members of Congress signed a letter asking the administration to delay the most recent arms shipment. Ordinarily, under the Arms Export Control Act, Congress has 30 days to block arms sales proposed by the administration — but by announcing the arms sale in August, most of those 30 days fell during Congress’s August recess.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Netherlands Just Banned Weapon Sales to Saudi Arabia over Human Rights Abuses

Dutch lawmakers have voted to ban weapons exports to Saudi Arabia over the kingdom’s violations of humanitarian law, making the Netherlands the first country in the European Union (EU) to follow through on a motion by the European Parliament in February.

The landmark resolution, approved on Tuesday, asks the Dutch government to impose a full arms embargo on Saudi Arabia, including dual-use exports that could be used to violate human rights. The bill cites United Nations figures that Saudi-led troops have killed nearly 6,000 people in Yemen—half of them civilians.

The bill also noted the Saudi government’s ongoing executions of its own citizens, many of them political dissidents.

The parliamentary vote puts additional pressure on other EU governments, such as Britain and France—Saudi Arabia’s core suppliers of weapons, in addition to the U.S.—to enact a similar ban. According to the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), the UK has sold about $9.4 billion (£6.7 billion) in weapons to the Saudi government under Prime Minister David Cameron’s administration.

“Saudi Arabia has a terrible human rights record and governments like the UK must stop supporting it,” Andrew Smith, CAAT spokesperson, told TheIndependent on Wednesday. “The bombardment of Yemen has lasted almost a year now and the humanitarian situation is desperate.”

“The Dutch parliament has set an important precedent and it’s time for other arms dealing governments to do the same,” Smith said. “The decision can’t just be temporary though, it must be permanent.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

European Ban on Saudi Arms Sales Bolsters Foes of Canadian Deal

European Ban on Saudi Arms Sales Bolsters Foes of Canadian Deal

Move puts pressure on government to justify $15-billion contract, says Amnesty.

Saudi-Armoured-Vehicles-610.jpg

The Saudi National Guard tweeted this photo of armoured vehicles moving to the Yemeni border in November 2015. An anonymous source told the Globe and Mail they were made in Canada.

A move to ban weapons exports to Saudi Arabia by members of the European Union bolsters the case of Canadians who oppose their own government selling military vehicles to the kingdom, says a human rights group.

On Thursday, the EU passed a non-binding resolution “to launch an initiative aimed at imposing an EU arms embargo against Saudi Arabia” over its involvement in the conflict in Yemen.

“The resolution acknowledges that Saudi Arabia and Iran are instrumental in resolving the crisis in Yemen,” said an EU press release.

The civil war in Yemen has intensified since last March, according to Amnesty International, resulting in the shelling, bombing and deaths of thousands of people.

Saudi Arabia heads a nine-country coalition of nations in the region who have intervened in the conflict on the side of Yemen’s central government.

The coalition has engaged in a heavy-bombing campaign and has been accused by the United Nations of major human-rights violations.

In 2014, the Conservative government facilitated a $15-billion contract for light-armoured vehicles for the Saudi military to be made by General Dynamics Systems Canada in London, Ontario.

The new Liberal government has said while it may not approve of the $15-billion deal in principle, it will not cancel the contract.

Hilary Homes, spokesperson for Amnesty International Canada, said the EU resolution strengthens the case of those pushing for Canada to stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia, or at least be more transparent about the deal.

“It certainly increases the pressure to explain their ongoing position around the deal,” she said.

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