2017 United States–Saudi Arabia arms deal

On May 20, 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia's Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud signed a series of letters of intent for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to purchase arms from the United States totaling US$110 billion immediately,[1] and $350 billion over 10 years.[2][3] The intended purchases include tanks, combat ships, missile defense systems, as well as radar, communications and cybersecurity technology. The transfer was widely seen as a counterbalance against the influence of Iran in the region[4][5] and a "significant" and "historic" expansion of United States relations with Saudi Arabia.[6][7][8][2][9]

Saudi–American relations
Map indicating locations of Saudi Arabia and USA

Saudi Arabia

United States

Background edit

Saudi Arabia is a key U.S. ally in the Middle East.[10][11] Saudi Arabia's security forces have relied on U.S. equipment, training, and service support for decades, officially as a counterbalance to Iranian military influence in the region, and to help protect the Kingdom from extremist attacks. Between 2011 and 2015, Saudi Arabia was the destination for nearly 10% of all U.S. arms exports.[12] In 2016, the Obama administration proposed a series of arms deals worth $115 billion, including warships, helicopters, and maintenance.[13] However, some parts of this deal were blocked by the administration in December 2016 after Saudi Arabia's airstrikes and targeting procedures in neighboring Yemen drew controversy.[14] After Saudi warplanes targeted a funeral in Yemen's capital Sanaa, killing more than 140 people, the Obama administration announced its intention to review U.S. military assistance to Saudi Arabia.[15]

The 2017 deal was partially created with the help of Jared Kushner, son-in-law of and senior advisor to President Trump; Kushner had cultivated relationships with Saudi royalty during the transition and personally contacted Lockheed Martin during the deal-making process.[16][17]

Details edit

The signing occurred at the Riyadh Summit, and was part of Trump's 2017 series of visits to the Vatican, Saudi Arabia and Israel. It also was related to a $20 billion investment in mostly American infrastructure.[18]

Saudi Arabia signed billions of dollars of deals with U.S. companies in the arms industry and petroleum industry, including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, General Electric, Exxon Mobil, Halliburton, Honeywell, McDermott International, Jacobs Engineering Group, National Oilwell Varco, Nabors Industries, Weatherford International, Schlumberger and Dow Chemical.[19][20][21][22][23][24][25][excessive citations]

Saudi Arabia joined The Blackstone Group in May 2017 in a $40 billion fund to invest in stateside infrastructure projects.[26]

American and Saudi Arabian government statements edit

The White House hailed the deal as a "significant expansion" of the two nations' "security relationships".[27] The United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson described the deal as "historic" and said that it would counter Iran, and urged them to halt support of destabilizing forces in the Middle East,[28][29] although he hinted the United States would be open to discussions.[30]

In December 2018, the Senators in the US voted to end American military assistance for Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen. The 56-to-41 vote came after the controversial killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and thousands of civilian casualties in Yemen. Senator Bernie Sanders, who co-wrote the resolution, said it is the first time Congress had used the law to make clear "that the constitutional responsibility for making war rests with the United States Congress, not the White House. Today, we tell the despotic regime in Saudi Arabia that we will not be part of their military adventurism."[31]

Trump vetoed a resolution on April 16, 2019 that would have ended American support of Saudi Arabia's war with Yemen.[32][33]

On July 24, 2019, Trump vetoed three bills that were meant to stop billions of dollars of arms to Saudi Arabia.[34][35][36]

On September 24, 2020, the Democratic Party introduced a legislation to control the United States foreign arms sales. The legislation was introduced while Trump administration was in discussions, led by Jared Kushner, about the possible sale of F-35s to the UAE. In the past the Trump administration has sold billions of dollars worth of weapons to Gulf allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, during their active involvement in the Yemen civil war.[37]

On November 18, 2020, three US senators namely, Democratic Senators Bob Menendez and Chris Murphy and Republican Senator Rand Paul announced four separate resolutions in disagreement of President Donald Trump's plan to sell more than $23 billion worth of Reaper drones, F-35 fighter aircraft and air-to-air missiles and other munitions to the UAE.[38]

Reception edit

Domestic response edit

Tulsi Gabbard—a Democratic Representative from Hawaii—criticized the move, saying that "Saudi Arabia is a country with a devastating record of human rights violations at home and abroad and has a long history of providing support to terrorist organizations that threaten the American people".[39][40] Rand Paul introduced a bill to try to block the plan calling it a "travesty".[41][42][43]

US defense stocks reached all-time highs after the announcement.[44][24][45]

Senator John McCain told Al Jazeera: "The Saudis are in a war in Yemen and they need weapons. You want to win, you need weapons. We are in a war."[46] According to Senator Chris Murphy, "That $110 billion is a mix of old sales and future prospective sales that have not been announced or signed."[46]

International response edit

  IranSupreme Leader Ali Khamenei called Saudi Arabia a "cow being milked" by the United States.[47]

  IsraelYuval Steinitz, Minister of National Infrastructures, Energy, and Water Resources, expressed "concern".[48][49]

  Saudi Arabia – The Government of Saudi Arabia praised the deal, and it stated that it is a turning point in Saudi–American relations.[50]

  Yemen – More than 10,000 Yemeni people protested the deal in Sana'a. Houthis fired a ballistic missile toward the Saudi capital Riyadh.[51][52]

Impact edit

Code Pink protesting senators supporting Saudi arms deal, December 2017

On June 5, 2017, Bruce Reidel of the Brookings Institution wrote that the arms deal consisted of "a bunch of letters of interest or intent, but not contracts."[53] On June 13, the United States Senate narrowly rejected an effort to block part of deal and approved the sale of $500 million worth of American weapons. The approval of the deal was opposed by various lawmakers, including GOP Senators Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Todd Young and Dean Heller, along with most Democratic Senators who voted to advance the measure in order to block the sale, citing the human rights violations by Saudi Arabia in the Yemeni Civil War and human rights violations at home.[54][55] Among the senators who voted against moving the measure to block the sale were Democrats Joe Donnelly, Claire McCaskill, Bill Nelson, Joe Manchin and Mark Warner along with Republicans including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Bob Corker and John McCain.[56]

In August 2018, a laser-guided Mark 82 bomb sold by the U.S. and built by Lockheed Martin was used in the Saudi-led coalition airstrike on a school bus in Yemen, which killed 51 people, including 40 children.[57] Following the civilian casualties in Yemen by the airstrikes conducted by Saudi Arabia, the U.S. suggested putting gun cameras on Saudi and Emirati warplanes to see how strikes were being conducted, but the proposal was rejected by both the Saudis and the UAE. U.S. military officials posted at the coalition war room in Riyadh brought to notice that inexperienced Saudi pilots were flying the warplanes at high altitude to avoid enemy fire, but in turn were putting civilians in danger due to inaccurate bombings.[58]

Through October 2018, the Saudi government had purchased $14.5 billion of arms.[59]

During 2018, Trump made several assertions of how many American jobs the deal would create, including as many as 1,000,000.[60]

In August of 2022 Biden's State Department approved $3 billion sale of Patriot missiles to Saudi Arabia and $2.2 billion to the United Arab Emirates despite pledging in 2019 campaign to make Saudi Arabia a pariah.[61]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "The truth about President Trump's $110 billion Saudi arms deal". ABC News. Retrieved 2017-05-21.
  2. ^ a b David, Javier E. (2017-05-20). "US-Saudi Arabia ink historic 10-year weapons deal worth $350 billion as Trump begins visit". CNBC. Retrieved 2017-05-21.
  3. ^ "Donald Trump to announce $380bn arms deal to Saudi Arabia – one of the largest in history". The Independent. 2017-05-17. Archived from the original on 2022-05-01. Retrieved 2017-05-21.
  4. ^ "What's the goal of America's arms deal with Saudi Arabia?". ABC News. 2017-05-21. Retrieved 2017-05-21.
  5. ^ Lee, Carol E.; Stancati, Margherita (2017-05-20). "Donald Trump, Saudi Arabia Sign Agreements in Move to Counterbalance Iran". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2017-05-21.
  6. ^ "Trump signs $110bn arms deal with Saudi Arabia". The Independent. 2017-05-20. Archived from the original on 2022-05-01. Retrieved 2017-05-21.
  7. ^ "What America's new arms deal with Saudi Arabia says about the Trump administration". Vox. 2017-05-20. Retrieved 2017-05-21.
  8. ^ "Tillerson hails 'historic moment' in U.S.-Saudi relations". Politico. Retrieved 2017-05-21.
  9. ^ "Trump signs $110B defense deal, receives warm welcome in Saudi Arabia". UPI. Retrieved 2017-05-21.
  10. ^ "How strained are US-Saudi relations?". BBC News. 20 April 2016.
  11. ^ "Gulf allies and 'Army of Conquest". Al-Ahram Weekly. 28 May 2015. Archived from the original on 17 April 2019. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  12. ^ "U.S.-Saudi Relations". Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved 2018-03-09.
  13. ^ Bayoumy, Yara (2016-09-07). "Obama administration arms sales offers to Saudi top $115 billion". Reuters. Retrieved 2018-03-09.
  14. ^ Stewart, Phil (2016-12-13). "U.S. to halt some arms sales to Saudi, citing civilian deaths in..." U.S. Retrieved 2018-03-09.
  15. ^ "America 'agrees to stop selling some arms' to Saudi Arabia". The Independent. 13 December 2016.
  16. ^ Jeremy Diamond and Zachary Cohen (19 May 2017). "Trump signs Kushner-negotiated $100B Saudi arms deal". CNN. Retrieved 2017-05-27.
  17. ^ Schmitt, Mark Landler, Eric; Apuzzo, Matt (2017-05-18). "$110 Billion Weapons Sale to Saudis Has Jared Kushner's Personal Touch". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-05-27.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  18. ^ Alesci, Cristina (2017-05-21). "Saudi Arabia pledges $20 billion to Blackstone for American infrastructure". CNN Business. Retrieved 2017-05-27.
  19. ^ "Factbox: Deals signed by U.S. companies in Saudi Arabia". Reuters. May 20, 2017.
  20. ^ "Saudi Arabia Welcomes Trump With Billions of Dollars of Deals". Bloomberg. May 20, 2017.
  21. ^ "Guide to $400 Billion in Saudi-U.S. Deals: Black Hawks to Oil". Bloomberg. May 22, 2017.
  22. ^ "Aramco signs $50-billion in deals with US companies". Oil & Gas Journal. May 22, 2017.
  23. ^ "4 Defense Giants In Buy Zone As Saudis Near $100 Billion Arms Package". Investor's Business Daily. May 19, 2017.
  24. ^ a b Thomas, Lauren (2017-05-22). "Defense stocks soar to all-time highs on $110 billion US-Saudi Arabia weapons deal". CNBC. Retrieved 2017-05-27.
  25. ^ "5 Top Deals Lockheed, Boeing, Raytheon May Get From Saudis — If They Pay Up ". Investor's Business Daily. June 9, 2017.
  26. ^ Gara, Antoine (May 20, 2017). "Blackstone Unveils $40 Billion Infrastructure Mega Fund With Saudi Arabia As President Trump Visits". Forbes.
  27. ^ "U.S.-Saudi Arabia sign immediate $110B arms deal". NBC News. Retrieved 2017-05-21.
  28. ^ "In Saudi Arabia, Tillerson argues Iran is Trump's top Gulf region concern". Fox News. 2017-05-20. Retrieved 2017-05-21.
  29. ^ "US calls on Iran to halt support for 'destabilising forces'". Financial Review. 2017-05-21. Retrieved 2017-05-21.
  30. ^ IANS (2017-05-21). "US diplomat hints at possible talks with Iranian counterpart". Business Standard India. Retrieved 2017-05-21.
  31. ^ Davis, Julie Hirschfeld; Schmitt, Eric (13 December 2018). "Senate Votes to End Aid for Yemen Fight Over Khashoggi Killing and Saudis' War Aims". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  32. ^ "Trump Vetoes Measure to Force End to U.S. Involvement in Yemen War". The New York Times. April 16, 2019.
  33. ^ "Trump vetoes resolution to end U.S. participation in Yemen's civil war". The Washington Post. April 16, 2019.
  34. ^ "Trump Vetoes Bipartisan Resolutions Blocking Arms Sales to Gulf Nations". The New York Times. July 24, 2019.
  35. ^ "Trump vetoes Congress's attempt to block arms sales to Saudi Arabia". The Washington Post. July 24, 2019.
  36. ^ "President Trump vetoes bills that would have blocked Saudi weapons deal". USA Today. July 24, 2019.
  37. ^ Atwood, Kylie (24 September 2020). "Democrats propose legislation to put more human rights controls on foreign arms sales". CNN. Retrieved 24 September 2020.
  38. ^ "U.S. senators seek to stop Trump's $23 billion in arms sales to UAE". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  39. ^ "Gabbard condemns arms sale to Saudi Arabia | Asian American Press". aapress.com. Retrieved 2017-05-21.
  40. ^ Beavers, Olivia (2017-05-20). "Dem senator: Trump's arms deal with Saudis a 'terrible idea'". The Hill. Retrieved 2017-05-21.
  41. ^ Hensch, Mark (2017-05-23). "Paul plans to force vote on $110B Saudi defense deal". The Hill. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  42. ^ "Senators Target Trump's Proposed $110B Weapons Deal With Saudi Arabia". 25 May 2017. Archived from the original on 2017-06-19.
  43. ^ Hensch, Mark (2017-05-24). "Paul: $110B Saudi arms deal 'a travesty'". The Hill. Retrieved 2017-05-27.
  44. ^ "U.S. defense stocks jump on Saudi arms deal". Retrieved 2017-05-27.
  45. ^ CNBC (2017-05-22). "After Saudi arms deal, defense shares fly". Fox Business. Retrieved 2017-05-27.
  46. ^ a b "Questions raised over $110bn arms deal to Saudi Arabia". Al Jazeera. June 8, 2017.
  47. ^ "Iran's Supreme Leader Says Saudi Arabia Is a 'Cow Being Milked' by U.S." Time. Archived from the original on May 27, 2017. Retrieved 2017-05-27.
  48. ^ "Israeli minister expresses concern over U.S.-Saudi arms deal". Reuters. 2017-05-22. Retrieved 2017-05-27.
  49. ^ "Ministers concerned Saudi arms deal might blunt Israel's military edge". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2017-05-27.
  50. ^ Birnbaum, Chelsea Mosery. "$380 billion over ten years: The Trump- Saudi Arabia deal". JerusalemOnline. Archived from the original on 2017-05-25. Retrieved 2017-05-21.
  51. ^ "Yemen's Houthis say fire ballistic missile towards Saudi capital". The Hindu. 20 May 2017. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
  52. ^ "Protests erupt in Yemen as Trump visits Saudi Arabia". PBS NewsHour. Retrieved 2017-05-21.
  53. ^ Riedel, Bruce (June 5, 2017). "The $110 billion arms deal to Saudi Arabia is fake news". Retrieved October 21, 2018.
  54. ^ Liautaud, Alexa (June 13, 2017). "The Senate-approved Saudi Arms deal is a disaster for Yemen". Vice. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  55. ^ Cooper, Helene (June 13, 2017). "Senate Narrowly Backs Trump Weapons Sale to Saudi Arabia". The New York Times. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  56. ^ Carney, Jordain (June 13, 2017). "Senate rejects effort to block Saudi arms sale". The Hill. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  57. ^ Elbagir, Nima, Salma Abdelaziz, Ryan Browne, Barbara Arvanitidis and Laura Smith-Spark (August 14, 2018). "Bomb that killed 40 children in Yemen was supplied by US". CNN. Retrieved August 24, 2018.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  58. ^ "Arms Sales to Saudis Leave American Fingerprints on Yemen's Carnage". The New York Times. December 25, 2018. Retrieved December 25, 2018.
  59. ^ Jeremy Diamond; Barbara Starr (October 12, 2018). "Trump's $110 billion Saudi arms deal has only earned $14.5 billion so far". CNN. Retrieved October 21, 2018.
  60. ^ ""It's not going to create or take away a single job": why Trump's excuse on the Saudis doesn't hold up". Vox. October 21, 2018. Retrieved November 4, 2018.
  61. ^ Perez, Zamone. "State Department clears weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, UAE". Defense News. Retrieved 11 August 2022.