Trump’s Foreign Agenda: $350 Billion to the Saudis to Bomb Yemen and a Call for an “Arab NATO”

May 19th, 2017 - by admin

Daniel Larison / The American Conservative & Jason Ditz / & Mythili Sampathkumar / The Independent – 2017-05-19 00:31:50

The War on Yemen and Trump’s Foreign Trip

The War on Yemen and Trump’s Foreign Trip
Daniel Larison / The American Conservative

(May 16, 2017) — Describing Trump’s agenda for his first foreign trip, his National Security Advisor [H. R. McMaster] recently said this:
“He [Trump] will encourage our Arab and Muslim partners to take bold, new steps to promote peace and to confront those, from ISIS to al-Qaida to Iran to the Assad regime, who perpetuate chaos and violence that has inflicted so much suffering throughout the Muslim world and beyond.”

McMaster’s description is hard to take seriously for a few reasons. First, the Saudis and their allies are busily perpetuating chaos and violence in Yemen, and some of them have been responsible for doing the same in Syria for years.

These states have no problem perpetuating chaos and violence, and our government has not had much of a problem in aiding them as long as it can be dressed up as opposition to Iran.

Far from confronting ISIS and Al Qaeda, these clients have escalated and stoked conflicts in Yemen and Syria that have allowed jihadist groups to become stronger, and at the same time they have neglected efforts to combat jihadists so that they could concentrate their resources on pummeling and starving Yemen.

Everything the Trump administration has done so far has been to reward these governments for their recklessness and unreliability by promising to provide them with even more weapons and support than they were already receiving.

As I have said before, making Riyadh Trump’s first visit of his presidency is an unmistakable stamp of approval on the Saudi-led coalition’s destructive, illegal behavior in Yemen.

The coalition bears significant responsibility for creating the world’s worst humanitarian disaster there and has committed numerous war crimes against the civilian population.

Meanwhile, Trump is fully embracing the coalition’s members. If Trump’s visit drew more attention to Yemen’s plight, that would be a very thin silver lining, but it is more likely that the enormous suffering of Yemen’s people and the destruction wrought by the coalition with US backing will continue to go mostly unnoticed.

Of all the countries Trump could have chosen for his first visit, he chose to visit the country whose government is largely responsible for causing a major man-made famine in one of the world’s poorest countries and has implicated the US in numerous war crimes because of our government’s assistance with their war effort.

While Trump will be schmoozing with despots in Riyadh, millions of Yemenis will continue to be starved as a result of deliberate policy choices supported by Washington. That ought to appear prominently in every report on Trump’s trip abroad, but it will very likely be left out of almost all of them.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Trump to Announce $350 Billion
Arms Deal During Saudi Arabia Visit

Jason Ditz /

(May 18, 2017) — Over the past few weeks there’ve been multiple reports of President Trump planning to unveil a massive arms sale to Saudi Arabia during his Riyadh visit, and the figures have kept rising. What was $100 billion earlier this week is now, according to the most recent reports $350 billion.

That would make it one of the largest arms deals in US history, and realistically in world history, and indications are that President Trump intends to present this as part of the push for the creation of “Arab NATO,” and by extension make it about Sunni Arabs confronting Iran.

This single deal would dwarf President Obama’s arms deals throughout his entire term in office, which are estimated at $200 billion, and are themselves the biggest amount of arms sales by any administration in the post war era. Saudi Arabia was a large buyer then, as well.

With Saudi Arabia locked in a seemingly endless war in Yemen, they’re going to continue to throw money at more costly US munitions and weaponry in hopes of winning what they thought would be a simple war, and all indications are that the current administration will be just as eager as the last one to sign off on them.

Donald Trump to Announce
$350 Billion Arms Deal with Saudi Arabia

The deal will be part of the president’s proposal
that Gulf nations form an ‘Arab NATO’

Mythili Sampathkumar / The Independent

NEW YORK (May 2017) — Donald Trump will use his upcoming Saudi Arabia trip to announce one of the largest arms sales deals in US history — somewhere in the neighbouhood of $98 billion to $128 billion worth of arms. That could add up to $350bn over ten years.

The deal will be what the Washington Post said is a “cornerstone” of the proposal encouraging the Gulf states to form its own alliance like the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) military alliance, dubbed “Arab NATO.”

Nato is comprised of 28 countries including the US. Mr. Trump been an outspoken critic of the organisation but after a face-to-face meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stollenberg, he said the alliance was “no longer obsolete.”

The White House said the president will propose it as a template for an alliance that will fight terrorism and keep Iran in check.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman began negotiations on this deal shortly after the 2016 US election when he sent a delegation to Trump Tower to meet with the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is serving as a senior advisor of sorts to Mr. Trump.

The idea of an Arab NATO is not new.

There was talk in 2015 of a “response force” in Egypt, comprised of approximately 40,000 troops from Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and a few other Gulf nations.

The “response force” would have had a NATO-like command structure, with soldiers paid for by their own countries and the Gulf Cooperation Council made up of wealthy oil economies finance operations and management of the force.

However, intra-regional tensions and centuries-old disputes prevented it from ever being established.

The Trump administration has not addressed that problem as yet, but the “America First” doctrine seems to be driving the arms deal and proposal.

More American involvement, a more entrenched NATO-like military structure, and increased professional capability to match NATO forces may come about in the new Arab NATO alliance in part due to the motivation of Saudi Arabia.

President Barack Obama’s administration brokered more arms sales than any US administration since World War II — estimated at $200bn. They sold Saudi Arabia alone $60bn in arms, which sparked criticism by Democrats concerned with Saudi Arabia’s alleged human rights violations.

Mr. Trump benefits by bringing about a more “fair” deal; he has claimed several times that NATO is unfair to the US because of the amount of contributions and support provided by the US compared to countries like Germany.

If Arab NATO succeeds, the White House official said the US could shift the responsibility for security to those in the region and create jobs at home through the arms sales.

Mr. Trump is set to arrive in Riyadh on 20 May after which he will travel to Israel, the Vatican, and Italy for the group of seven meeting.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.