16-Oct-2018 08:10:53

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On 27th May, The United States of America and Saudi Arabia signed a historical arms deal worth US$110 Billion and US$350 billion over 10 years in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It included tanks, missile defence system, and combat ships along with cybersecurity and communications technology. It is considered to be a historical and significant agreement between the two countries and is a step forward to a stable Middle East. The Saudi Arabian military has always depended on United States for its weapons and considers it essential against another growing power in the region, Iran. This deal is beneficial to the defence and overall growth of both the countries. It included the following privileges,

• $20billion investment into the American infrastructure

• Saudi Arabia joined the Blackstone group to invest in state side infrastructure with $40billion.

• Precision guided munitions which weren't approved by the previous government over their usage against civilians in Yemen.

• Saudi Arabia has signed a series of deals for clean energy sources with private companies from America.

• Increase of jobs, mainly in the defence sector.

• Sophisticated radar systems which are capable of shooting down ballistic missiles

The United States has always tried to prevent Russian influence in the Middle East countries since the Second World War. In the 1960s, United Kingdom held a lot of sway over the countries in Persian Gulf, which included a steady supply of oil to them, but all this changed due to their falling economy and the increased and more aggressive influence of United States in this region. All the superpowers strive continuously to have good relations with these countries for their oil. But United States has always opposed the regime in Iran, who are considered anti-American. It had also imposed heavy sanctions on the country before the nuclear deal which has impacted their economy. Saudi Arabia and Iran are the two growing powers in the region, and United States backing Saudi Arabia with weapons is a direct move against Iran.

Complete diplomatic relations between the countries were established in 1993, and since then it has been a prosperous relationship for both of them. Despite US being a republican country and Saudi Arabia being a monarch, their interests are aligned making them staunch supporters of each other. They were on the same side after the Second World War against communist rule, and favoured stable oil prices and oil flow from the Middle East. In 2003, the United States led a war against Iraq to end Saddam Hussein’s regime and to disarm them. This was opposed by Saudi Arabians which did not want one of their own country to be targeted in the region. Despite their difference of opinions regarding this matter, they continued to remain allies.

After the 9th September, 2001 attack on the US soil by terrorists, there was some hostility towards Saudi Arabia as 15 out of the 19 attackers were their natives. The general public did not approve of their friendship and received a lot of backslash for their rumoured support to terrorist groups and individuals. But US continued its support and publicly praised them for their war against terrorism. In 2003, after repeated terrorist attack on Saudi ministries, US increased their support by providing them with intelligence and equipping their agencies to handle the situation. In 2005, the king of Saudi Arabia, publicly condemned terrorism and took strict measures to prevent terrorist activity on their soil by denouncing the citizenship of known terrorists. In the year 2009, rumours of Saudi Arabia funding terrorism with the aid obtained from US was revealed under Hillary Clinton. The main funding was obtained through ‘zakat’ which are the charities to which all Saudi Arabians donate 2.5% of their income. But some of these charities were found to be fronts for terrorist groups. In September 2016, the US allowed the victim families of 9/11 to sue Saudi Arabia through the Justice against sponsors of terrorism act.

Authors note: Heavily arming a country in the unstable Middle East is a recipe for conflict. Saudi Arabia's stance against Iran, Yemen and Syria has already been witnessed, increasing their military capabilities against other countries is a sure shot at difference of opinions. The Saudi Arabian government has always been Islamic and is still far behind the United States ideas of progressive world. This clash of ideologies can cause issues between them. Supply of oil is essential, but so are cleaner energy sources. The spending of both the countries should be focused on improving this and the environment rather than being dependent on oil. Many wars have already been waged over the supply and demand of oil on the Persian Gulf countries which has crippled their economy. The military funding of both the countries can be diverted towards cleaner energy sources and can also prevent further conflicts.

Written by:

Sharanya Sreepad