Monday, August 23, 2010

“US to sell Saudi Arabia arms worth $60bn in biggest deal”

By Ali Alyami;

Despite spending tens of billions of dollars on military hardware and detective technologies during the course of the last fifty years, the Saudis have never fought a war, big or small, on their own in the past; nor will they dare do so in the future. To sustain a major regional war, i.e with Iran, would require public support and participation.

The citizens of Saudi Arabia are unlikely to lay their lives on the line for what they (and the rest of the world) consider a corrupt, archaic, and repressive social system. Besides, the regime would be less inclined to call on the people to participate in war even if it is in self-defense. The monarchs do not trust their people to carry guns, use missiles, fly fighter-bombers, or drive tanks.
The Saudi monarchs, like their counterparts in the rest of the Gulf region, best not risk their fortunes on a bet that a repressed population will shed their own blood to further protect and enrich their masters. On the contrary, the hereditary rulers will continue to rely on external entities to protect them from each other, domestic uprising and external aggression. The Gulf’s oligarchies know that engaging in wars would expedite their downfall.
The pending $ 60 billion arms sale to the unstable Saudi monarchy, which it does not need, may help the US economy in the short run. But it could boomerang, for three related major reasons.

One, given the Saudi people’s, especially youth, women and minorities’ sprouting and enigmatically ignored needs and skyrocketing expectations, the Saudi regime’s stability is likely to erode regardless of how much arms and external protection the autocratic monarchs purchase. Long term stability must be built within, on service to the population, rather than military muscle shows.

Two, the hi-tech hardware could end up in the hands of the wrong people, including members of the ruling family who share extremist and terrorist groups objectives.
Third, do we need the Saudi regime to get more leverage over our domestic and foreign policies by investing in building up our already bloated defense industry?

The Saudi people have been warned about potential threats from Iran. They remain skeptical. They have been given a seventy year lie that Israel is their mortal enemy and obstructing the transformation of their vast desert kingdom from inhospitable sand dunes into a garden of Eden. To the monarchs’ and their beneficiaries

discomfort, the Saudi people are slowly discovering that this was a fictitious ploy by their ruling autocratic and theocratic elites to deflect their attention from their homegrown social, political, economic, educational and religious ills.
It would be revealing to find out how and where would the majority of the Saudi people like to see their money spent. Would they want the oil bounty spent buying arms to protect the ruling family, or repairing and modernizing their dilapidated infrastructure?
Based on what I know, they would happily choose the latter. Major Saudi cities don’t have sewage systems, reliable drinking water or electricity systems.

In addition, city streets, businesses and residential areas are not even numbered. Modern streets, hospitals, sewage systems, and the like would do more for the poorly served Saudi citizen than inordinately expensive fighter jets flying over their heads and deafening their ears.

Finally, our government and other institutions may want to rethink their approach to the Saudi government and its long-term objectives. Time to understand that the power and effectiveness of money, prayer callers and fatwa issuers slowly but surely must wane, and be replaced by modern state institutions which enfranchise and enrich the average citizen of this top-heavy land.

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