08/12/2016, 16.06
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Washington approves US$ 1.5 billion weapons sale to Saudi Arabia

The contract includes 130 tanks, other weapons and military assistance. Riyadh vows to fight Islamic State but uses its weapons mostly against its rivals in the region. Only ten Saudi fighters are involved in the anti-Daesh coalition, but one hundred are used in Yemen against Houthi Shias. For French diplomat, through money flows and arms sales the West has created its own enemy.

Riyadh (AsiaNews) – Despite repeated human rights complaints against Saudi Arabia over its military campaign in Yemen, the US State Department has approved a US$ 1.15 billion sale of military equipment to the Kingdom, including 130 Abrams battle tanks. 

US-Saudi military alliance goes back a long way. Last year alone, the United States sold more than US$ 20 billion worth of military equipment and support to the Saudis last year.

US defense sources point out that the tank sale will enhance Saudi ground troops’ potential and improve coordination and operations between US and Saudi forces.

The deal reiterates Washington's commitment to “Saudi Arabia’s security and armed forces modernization,” the sources noted, this despite recent tensions

Now Congress has 30 days to block the sale, although such action is rare. However, Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) has been critical of arms sales to the Saudis, citing concerns about civilian casualties, and the Saudis’ preference for fighting Iranian proxies in Yemen instead of Daesh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State).

Hundreds of civilians have died since the beginning of Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Yemen, in March last year.

The Saudis have used US-made fighter jets that drop US-made cluster bombs – a horrible munition that is so imprecise that it has been banned by 119 nations.

Overall, Saudi Arabia has only provided ten fighter planes against Daesh in Syria and Iraq, compared to at least a hundred in Yemen against the Houthis.

The United States is not the only major Western power to sell arms to countries involved with extremist movements or that at least tolerate their actions.

France and Great Britain continue to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which increase regional instability.

In an article in Le Monde, former French diplomat and international policy expert Laurent Bigot underscores the link between Mideast wars and escalating terror attacks in Europe.

He notes how the West has "created its own enemies" over the past two decades, from Osama bin Laden to Daesh militias, which was a response to Sunni persecution by Iraq’s US-backed Shia-dominated government under Nouri al-Maliki.

Behind Daesh’s war threats lurk all sorts of deals, which include weapons and vehicles, involving Riyadh and Doha, “deemed some of the main sponsors of religious obscurantism and terrorism."

War is declared against IS but nothing is done to cut oil smuggling, which allows the Jihadist group to fund its war and buy weapons.

Financial transactions in cash are limited to a thousand euros in France as a way to limit the funding of terrorism, and yet millions if not billions of dollars can easily flow through banks and tax havens to fund wars.

What about French support for the al-Nusra Front, whose ideology has nothing to envy to Daesh’s, Bigot laments. And French “weapons deliveries to Syrian rebels in a region that is overrun with them!”

In view of the situation, the expert calls on the international community, especially the West, “to open its eyes on its own inconsistencies" because it "will eventually cost us dear."

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