June 24, 2018

Arm Sales Gain US Far More Than Saudis!

24 March 2018, 01:42 | Simon Arnold

Amani Alkhat, "Muslim Girl" editor, says Saudi Arabia interfering with women

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The history that passed between the two pictures, that of the Crown Prince during his visit to the United States and the one featured behind him, reflect the depth of relations between the two nations.

At the White House, Trump repeated his description of the Iran nuclear deal, negotiated by Obama, as the "worst deal ever".

"While the crown prince is in Washington, we will be advocating for $35bn in commercial deals for U.S. companies that would support 120,000 American jobs", one official said.

"His interview on 60 Minutes was clearly meant to kick off his US stay and struck numerous themes we expect to hear repeatedly over the course of his visit", said Gerald Feierstein, the former US Ambassador to Yemen and director for Gulf affairs and government relations at the Middle East Institute.

However, he did not preview what he plans to do about it when he faces the next deadline in May, according to United States officials.

The crown prince showed a willingness to "address rather directly a number of hot-button issues that Americans still have questions about", including terrorism, women's status and Yemen, Lori Plotkin Boghardt, a scholar with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Arab News.

Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is in the United States this week to further cement one of the world's most resilient alliances.

The visit comes at a complicated moment in French-Saudi relations.

Trump said that the Saudis were "also footing a big part of the bill for defense" in "the whole Middle East" but made clear that he expects Riyadh to do more.Referring to the almost completed battlefield defeat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Trump said that US involvement was "coming to an end in that part of the world".

But when I interviewed the Crown Prince in Riyadh earlier this month, he made it clear that his ambitions lay far beyond securing Saudi Arabia's own radical reform programme.

Kushner, who had been tasked with bringing about a deal between Israel and Palestine, was particularly engaged by information about the Middle East, according to a former White House official and a former US intelligence professional.

Others set to attend will include JPMorgan Chase & Co Chief Executive Jamie Dimon, Henry Kravis, who is CEO of private equity firm KKR & Co LP, and Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman, sources familiar with the matter said.

Yet Democrats and Republicans have approached some of the crown prince's other bold steps with trepidation, particularly in the broader Middle East. One bill in Congress proposes scaling back USA military assistance to a Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen. The Saudis and their allies are fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels, but worldwide organisations have harshly criticized the coalition's airstrikes and blockading of Yemeni ports for contributing to thousands of civilian deaths and a humanitarian catastrophe.

It's not the only regional mess the Saudis are in.

In November, US officials voiced unease when Lebanon's prime minister unexpectedly resigned while in Riyadh. Prime Minister Saad Hariri later reversed his resignation.

A senior Trump administration official said the two leaders talked about the humanitarian situation in Yemen and that civilian casualties "did not come up in a major way", given that Washington had been working with the Saudis to minimize them. Trump said the military sales contributed to the creation of 40,000 American jobs. In Yemen, the kingdom says it is improving military targeting, opening up ports and pledging $1.5 billion in new aid. "The Saudis are very sensitive to this".

They also discussed nuclear cooperation.

The crown prince could dangle a huge carrot in front of Trump for his support.

A key focus of his visit will be any information on a potentially lucrative listing of up to 5 percent of Saudi oil firm Aramco. This will help the arms market of United States to grow and creation of new jobs in US.

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