Despite President Trump’s claims of a $110 billion weapons deal with Saudia Arabia, made when visiting the Middle-Eastern country in May, our agreements with the Saudis are far more piecemeal and complicated than such a straightforward statement would seem to suggest, says Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institute.
Lumped by President Trump into an all-encompassing “deal,” the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which serves as the Pentagon’s sales branch, more appropriately labels them as a series of “intended sales.”
Most of these proposals will eventually come before the Senate for approval, but are typically only presented as standalone bills, as seen in last month’s vote on the sale of $510 million worth of precision-guided weapons. However, the timeline for debate is uncertain—all of the deals touted were negotiated during the Obama administration while this was the first put to a vote.
Also portrayed in this most recent vote is the fact that arms sales to the Saudi regime are becoming more contentious. Whereas the last vote to prohibit a specific sale (of Abrams tanks in 2016) to the Saudis failed 71 to 27, this deal only passed 53 to 47. This is undoubtedly a trend worth watching, as legislators’ concerns regarding the Saudis’ role in regional conflicts, namely in Yemen, continue to mount.
For a more in-depth analysis, read Riedel’s full story here: The $110 billion arms deal to Saudi Arabia is fake news