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Hoarding up the weapons

Hoarding up the weapons

Why is Saudi entering multi- billion dollar arms deals with Britain and the US?

August 11, 2008 11:59 by

BAE Systems is in talks to sell dozens more Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft to Saudi Arabia in a deal worth around $38bn, reports the Times. BAE, Britain’s largest defence contractor, may provide as many as 70 extra combat aircraft to the Saudis.

The news follows recent developments in the Saudi BAE arms case; the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), which was accused of unlawfully halting a corruption inquiry into the case, won its appeal in the House of Lords a few weeks back.

In 2006, SFO was asked to look into accusations of bribery in Britain’s biggest-ever arms deal. The deal, worth around $83bn, was signed between the Britain’s and Saudi Arabia’s governments and BAE. SFO said it stopped the investigation after receiving threats from the Saudi Arabian government to withhold cooperation on issues of anti-terrorism. And the House of Lords ruled that the SFO was right.
In other words, the bribery allegations were never completely looked into, and going by the Lords’ decision, will never be investigated. Some bit of corruption (possibly equating to huge sums of money) can be overlooked in return for anti-terror information.

But going by recent reports, Saudi almost seems to be preparing for a full-fledged war. The US is currently preparing to enter a $20bn arms deal with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. The deal was decided upon in July last year, and was also on President George Bush’s agenda when he visited Saudi Arabia this year. The US Congress will be formally notified about the deal this autumn.

The proposed package of advanced weaponry for Saudi includes advanced satellite-guided bombs, upgrades to its fighters and new naval vessels. US officials have been saying that the idea is to contain the growing power of Iran in the region.

But is Iran posing such a big threat to Saudi Arabia? Going by the accumulation of weapons, one would think the Kingdom is either preparing to attack, or be attacked.

With the huge sums of oil money reaching their coffers, it doesn’t seem like Britain or the US is asking too many questions.

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