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$110bn US-Saudi arms deal is ‘fake news’

June 8, 2017 at 1:06 pm

US President Donald Trump delivers a speech during the Arabic Islamic American Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia [Bandar Algaloud / Saudi Kingdom Council / Handout/Anadolu Agency]

A $110 billion arms deal between Saudi Arabia and the US, which was touted as the biggest single arms deal in American history has been characterised as “fake news”, a US think tank has said.

Defence industry experts confirmed to experts within the Brookings Institution, that no such deal had been finalised.

There are a bunch of letters of interest or intent, but not contracts

said Bruce Riedel, senior fellow at the institute. “Many are offers that the defence industry thinks the Saudis will be interested in someday.”

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The Defence Security Cooperation Agency, the arms sales wing of the Pentagon, calls them “intended sales”. The only sale expected in the immediate future was a deal for $1 billion in munitions intended to resupply Riyadh’s war in Yemen.

Riedel said that none of the potential sales were new, and all had been initiated by the Obama administration. President Barack Obama sold the kingdom $112 billion in weapons over eight years, most of which was a single, huge deal in 2012 negotiated by then-Secretary of Defence Bob Gates.

Moreover, it’s unlikely that the Saudis could pay for a $110 billion deal any longer, due to low oil prices and the two-plus years old war in Yemen.

said Reidel

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Twitter that the defence agreement was the “largest single arms deal in US history” and said other deals amounted to $250 billion in commercial investment.

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The deal also raised concern in Israel where the Times of Israel reported Defence Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, “was uneasy over the agreement, which he saw as part of a ‘crazy’ regional arms race”.