How a legendary bond trader from Salomon Brothers brokered a do-or-die deal that reshaped U.S.-Saudi relations for generations.
The United States and Saudi Arabia are putting together one of the biggest arms sales in history and looking toward a new regional security architecture. Behind the scenes, the Trump administration and Saudi Arabia have been conducting extensive negotiations, led by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. After years of disillusionment with the Obama administration, the Saudi leadership was eager to do business. “They were willing to make a bet on Trump and on America,” a senior White House official said.
President Eisenhower warned our nation during his farewell address to be very wary of the military industrial complex and its encroachment on civil society. The moment when the best interests of defense contractors start determining what is in the national security interest of our country, the tail has begun to wag the dog. This is the concern of Rand Paul, regarding the recent arms deal with Saudi Arabia.
President Trump leaves the Middle East today, having done his bit to make the region even more divided and mired in conflict than it was before. At the same moment that Donald Trump was condemning the suicide bomber in Manchester as “an evil loser in life”, he was adding to the chaos in which al-Qaeda and Isis have taken root and flourished. It may be a long distance between the massacre in Manchester and the wars in the Middle East, but the connection is there.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have pledged $100 million to the World Bank’s Women Entrepreneurs Fund, an initiative proposed by first daughter and senior White House adviser Ivanka Trump. The fund, which was first announced in April, has already raised serious legal and ethical questions about how a White House adviser can both shape foreign policy and actively solicit donations from foreign countries for the fund.
As voters in Iran danced in the streets, celebrating the landslide re-election of a moderate as president, President Trump stood in front of a gathering of leaders from across the Muslim world and called on them to isolate a nation he said had “fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror.” That nation was Iran.
U.S. and Saudi Arabian companies signed business deals worth tens of billions of dollars on Saturday during a visit by U.S. President Donald Trump, as Riyadh seeks help to develop its economy beyond oil. National oil firm Saudi Aramco said it signed $50 billion of agreements with U.S. firms. Energy minister Khalid al-Falih said deals involving all companies totaled over $200 billion, many of them designed to produce things in Saudi Arabia that had previously been imported.
It was not immediately clear why the five countries decided to take this action now. Last month, Qatar’s state news media published comments attributed to the emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, referring to tension with Washington over Iran policy and saying Mr. Trump might not be in power for long. Qatar denied the comments, saying it had been the victim of a “cybercrime.” But most analysts pointed to President Trump’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia.
President Trump thrust himself into a bitter Persian Gulf dispute on Tuesday, claiming credit for Saudi Arabia’s move to isolate its smaller neighbor, Qatar, which is a major American military partner. “During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology,” Mr. Trump said in a morning tweet. “Leaders pointed to Qatar — look!”
Last month, President Trump visited Saudi Arabia and his administration announced that he had concluded a $110 billion arms deal with the kingdom. The only problem is that there is no deal. It's fake news. I’ve spoken to contacts in the defense business and on the Hill, and all of them say the same thing: There is no $110 billion deal. Instead, there are a bunch of letters of interest or intent, but not contracts. Many are offers that the defense industry thinks the Saudis will be interested in someday. So far nothing has been notified to the Senate for review. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the arms sales wing of the Pentagon, calls them “intended sales.” None of the deals identified so far are new, all began in the Obama administration.