On the first day of his first official trip abroad, President Trump inked $110 billion in arms deals to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Saturday.
Trump talked of “hundreds of billions of dollars of investments into the United States and jobs, jobs, jobs,” and said it was a “tremendous day.”
Among the agreements was a deal with Boeing, the aircraft manufacturer and the world’s second largest military contractor, for military and commercial passenger aircraft. Last December the State Department announced plans to sell the Saudis 48 of Boeing’s CH-47F Chinook cargo helicopters and related training, equipment and support. The announced sale involved $3.5 billion, but the total value of the deal reached Saturday was not disclosed in a statement announcing the agreement.
Added to other investment deals made with the kingdom, the agreements could total up to $350 billion.
The response from regional leaders and officials ranged from cautiously concerned to outright critical.
Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said he was concerned about the series of deals. “This is a matter that really should trouble us,” Steinitz said.
“We have also to make sure that those hundreds of billions of dollars of weapons to Saudi Arabia will not, by any means, erode Israel’s qualitative edge, because Saudi Arabia is still a hostile country without any diplomatic relations and nobody knows what the future will be,” the minister added.
Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, on Sunday was critical of the deals, as well as the inflammatory remarks the president made in a speech he gave in Riyadh regarding Iran. “Iran – fresh from real elections – attacked by @POTUS in that bastion of democracy & moderation,” Zarif said on Twitter, referring to Saudi Arabia. “Foreign Policy or simply milking KSA of $480B?”
The president of Hezbollah’s executive council, Sayyed Hashem Safieddine, said the U.S. administration was “mentally impeded and crazy” on Sunday. “America’s contempt and blockading that targets our region, countries and communities are proof that it is much weaker than it was in past decades, especially since Trump continues to lead,” Safieddine said.
Hezbollah is a militant organization that has been implicated in terrorism in the past, but the group currently combats the Islamic State in Syria alongside Syrian, Russian and Iranian forces.
Saffieddine was “blacklisted” by the Saudis on Friday, while the U.S. Treasury Department added him to its counter-terrorism list before Trump left for Riyadh.
In addition to the hardware deals, the United States also signed an agreement with the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on Sunday to combat the financing of terrorist organizations.
“It’s the, we hope, farthest reaching commitment to not finance terrorist organizations that (the U.S.) Treasury will be monitoring with each of their counterparts,” said Dina Powell, White House deputy national security adviser for strategy.
“The unique piece of it is that every single one of them are signatories on how they’re responsible and will actually prosecute the financing of terrorism, including individuals,” Powell said.
The GCC is comprised by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
It is ironic that President Trump would travel to Saudi Arabia to sell the kingdom billions in weapons, denounce Saudi’s biggest adversary, Iran, and sign a deal to curb the funding of terrorist organizations considering:
• The Saudis are, in fact, the largest boosters of the “radical Islamic extremism” the president thinks he is combating;
• Iran, unlike Saudi Arabia, is an active participant in the fight against the Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria;
• Saudi officials likely had a role in financing the Sept. 11 terror attacks on New York and D.C.
Investigative journalist Larisa Alexandrovna, in a highly detailed and comprehensive analysis, breaks down the declassified 28 pages from the Congressional Joint Inquiry report on the Sept. 11 attacks and concludes that the Saudi government had direct financial involvement in the Sept. 11 plot [excerpt truncated to save space, see full article for complete passage]:
Prince Bandar [bin Sultan, former Saudi ambassador to the U.S. and former director general of the Saudi Intelligence Agency] is implicated through financial support and through phone records to the handlers of the San Diego [hijacker] cell as well as other terrorist activity in Pakistan and Afghanistan. […]
There [were] middlemen [between the financiers and Sept. 11 hijackers] and the US government has identified five of them by name […].
Four out of the five have Saudi Government jobs as well as ties to 9/11 hijackers. Four of them also appear to be Saudi intelligence officers using Saudi Government jobs as their cover. Two of them received direct funding from Prince Bandar and Princess Haifa as well the Saudi Ministry of Defense and Aviation (run by Prince Bandar’s father). As intelligence officers of the Saudi Government, they likely got funding from the GID (run by Prince Bandar’s brother-in-law/half cousin). One of them got additional funding by an unidentified Saudi Prince within the circle of the King. One of them reported directly to Bandar in his capacity as a Saudi Consulate employee. Three of them are tied through phone calls to the Saudi Embassy and other Saudi Government departments. All of them were protected by the Saudi Government. Add to this the several unnamed individuals who are linked to both the Saudi Embassy and the hijackers. Moreover, connections to Bandar appear in several terrorist suspect’s phonebooks.
Alexandrovna’s analysis is perhaps the very best to date on the declassified 28 pages and readers are highly recommended to read the entire document.
On this point, however, President Trump is a walking contradiction. He claims to be a staunch opponent of Islamic radicalism, yet has positioned himself as the greatest ally to the world’s largest booster of religious extremism and foreign terrorist organizations; he wants to “drain the swamp,” but he befriends one of the biggest creatures in the lagoon.
If Trump means what he says about terrorism, he would alter America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia post-haste.
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Contributed by Will Porter of The Daily Sheeple.