Source: Press TV
The US has finalized part of a 2010 arms sale to Saudi Arabia that sees 84 F15 fighter jets delivered plus upgrades to others, but what are the motives behind it?
Press TV talks with Jeff Steinberg, Executive Intelligence review in Washington about this part of a 60 billion dollar arms deal signed in 2010 and how it will affect the Saudi military's capabilities. The discussion also looks at motivations for the US and the Israeli response to this deal. What follows is an approximate transcript of the interview.
Press TV: The US says the arms deal with Saudi Arabia sends a strong message. What message does it send when the US hands arms over to one of the most repressive countries in the world of which a number of citizen s are in fact also blamed for the 9/11 terrorist act against the US?
Jeff Steinberg: What it tells you is that the US is looking to offset the fact that there is going to be significant cuts in US defense spending because of the economic crisis in the US and therefore we're leaning on certain countries to provide off-sets by making very large weapons purchases. The big question mark is what use are the Saudis going to be able to make of this?
The Saudi military is of very limited significance. They were able to move a few tanks and armored personnel carriers across the causeway into Bahrain earlier this year, but the idea that there's some kind of Saudi air force that represents an actual military capability is questionable maybe even laughable.
So it s a subsidy operation and frankly it's going to create an offset to job losses that's very same defense companies because arms sales to the Pentagon are going to be stretched out and slowed down.
I see this more as an economic deal and probably there'll be a lot of angry people in Britain because since 1985 there have been enormous arms deals under the old program between Britain and Saudi Arabia and frankly I think one of the interesting things that we're going to see on this big Saudi arms deal is that the Israeli lobby in the Us is not going to lift a finger to stop it.
And this is because you have a growing ironic convergence of Saudi and Israeli interests including and especially in the targeting of Iran. I therefore find it frankly quite amusing that the Israeli lobby is going to sit on the side lines with this 60 billion dollar program. I wouldn't be surprised to even find out that people like Richard Perle have some kind of consulting contract and are going to make some money off of this deal.
So it's really about money and combinations of political arrangements much more than it is about the idea about Saudi Arabia getting some kind of genuine military capabilities that anybody in the area should be concerned about.
Press TV: I know you made the point that this is related to the economy, I wanted to ask you, what it the game plan in the region by giving the Saudis this large cache of arms? Is there do you think a sense that may be throwing money or arms at the problem of extremism or terrorism that stems from Saudi Arabia and spreads across the region is the solution in a sense to win the war on terror?
Jeff Steinberg: No. not at all. We've given the Saudis a free ride on 9/11; on al-Qaeda; on the spread of an extreme form of neo-Salafi Sunni fundamentalism and now that's something that is going to be coming back to bite us.
We had the results of the first round of Egyptian elections where the Salafi parties did shockingly well - way beyond what anybody expected and the simple reason was that they were flooded with money coming in from the Persian Gulf especially from Saudi Arabia. So yes you're right that this is a wrong policy placating these kinds of problems is only going to build up towards greater problems and I hope we don't wind up a few years from now talking about a second 9/11 as a result of this kind of silliness