The White House say that they are about to close a series of arms deals with Saudi Arabia worth an estimated $100 billion dollars.
Just ahead of President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia next Friday, the two nations look set to secure an arms package that will see Saudi Arabia supplied with ships, air missile defense systems, maritime security, US arms and maintenance.
“We are in the final stages of a series of deals,” the White House confirmed on Friday.
“We’ll see a very substantial commitment … In many ways it is intended to build capabilities for the threats they face,” a White House official said, adding, “It’s good for the American economy but it will also be good in terms of building a capability that is appropriate for the challenges of the region. Israel would still maintain an edge.”
President Barack Obama had canceled a series of planned weapons sales to Saudi Arabia in the last months of his administration because of the Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen which had led to numerous civilian casualties.
Trump has already met with Saudi deputy crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who wields much influence in the kingdom due to the frailty of the 81-year-old King Salman. The 31-year-old prince is also defense minister and has led an aggressive campaign both militarily in Yemen and politically against Iran and Shia Muslims.
The UN estimates that 17 million of Yemen’s 27 million people are “food insecure.” This includes 3.3 million pregnant and breast-feeding mothers and children, some 462,000 under the age of five, who are “acutely malnourished.”
Restoring US-Saudi ties
Trump and Salman met at the White House in Washington in March. The Bloomberg news agency reported on Thursday that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund could invest up to $40 billion in US infrastructure.
US national security adviser H.R. McMaster previewed Trump’s first foreign tour to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Italy and Belgium in a White House briefing on Friday. “President Trump understands that America First does not mean America alone,” McMaster told reporters. “To the contrary, prioritizing America’s interests means strengthening alliances.”
McMaster said Trump “will encourage our Arab and Muslim partners to take bold, new steps to promote peace and to confront those, from ISIS to al Qaeda to Iran to the Assad regime, who perpetuate chaos and violence that has inflicted so much suffering throughout the Muslim world and beyond.”