It turns out the $US110 billion Saudi arms deal is actually fake news

It turns out that the $US110 billion Saudi Arabia arms deal that the Trump administration announced in May is actually “fake news,” according to the Brookings Institution.

Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow and director of the Brookings Intelligence Project, writes that everyone with whom he has spoken in the defence industry and on Capitol Hill says that the supposed $US110 billion deal is actually “a bunch of letters of interest or intent, but not contracts.”

In fact, a lot of these proposals, which the Pentagon calls “intended sales,” are just arms that defence contractors speculate that the Saudis might want at some point. Many were even proposed during the Obama era.

For example, the Pentagon proposed to sell the Saudis four frigates for $US11.25 billion in 2015, but since then, no contracts have been signed.

Same thing with the THAAD systems. The Saudis have wanted missile defence systems for a while, and Obama even approved such a sale in 2015, but nothing has been signed.

Riedel suggests that the Saudis probably can’t even afford such a huge deal at this point, since they are struggling with low oil prices and trying to pay for the war in Yemen.

He also said that one way to glean that the “deal is real” is when Israel wants a deal of their own, since the Israelis will want to keep their edge over their Arab neighbours. When former Defence Secretary Bob Gates closed a $US112 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia in 2012, he also had to negotiate a separate one with Israel to get it through Congress.

Read the full Brookings Institution article here.

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