Riyadh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The US State Department has approved the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia, to the tune of $ 1.29 billion. The deal includes the sale of 13 thousand "smart" bombs and spare parts of weapons.
US President Barack Obama pledged to strengthen military support for Riyadh, after recent tensions; the White House’ strong backing of the Iranian nuclear deal had seriously undermined relations as has Washington’s lack of determination to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The deal is now before Congress, who have 30 days to approve or block the transfer of weapons. In all likelihood it will be given the green light.
The decision of the US government thus confirms the strong link between the United States and Saudi Arabia in terms of weapons, with the latter among the largest buyers of weapons in the world and the United States among the largest producers.
This strategic link bonds Washington with Sunni allies in the Gulf (including Qatar and UAE), engaged in recent months in a bloody war in Yemen against the Shiite Houthi rebel movement, which is close to Tehran.
The sale also includes weapons equipped with satellite technology, capable of hitting a target with pinpoint accuracy over long distances. The supply of bombs used to fill the Saudi arsenal, which in recent months been depleted by the war in Yemen and in the fight against the Islamic State militias in Syria.
Commenting on the green light from the US Department, the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said that his country is satisfied with the agreement, which will help maintain security and stability in the Middle East.
However, critics say these weapons sold by the West (and the US in particular) often end up feeding the various Islamist groups active in the region and, in particular, in Syria where they are fighting President Assad.
Beneficiaries would include the same Islamic State (IS) jihadists.
As noted by AsiaNews in the past, the Middle East is a flourishing market for the sale and trade of weapons, the largest on a global scale. In 2014 Saudi Arabia spent most (in percentage) on its defense budget, about 17% of the annual budget (80.8 billion dollars). This trend continues for years and involves the Gulf monarchies and the United States as a supplier of increasingly sophisticated instruments of death.