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War boon for US military

WAR is proving a lucrative business for the US military, with Washington raking in $500 million (£384m) from Saudi Arabia last month as payment for troops stationed in the reactionary kingdom.

Pentagon spokeswoman Commander Rebecca Rebarich confirmed that the payment was “the first contribution” in a partnership deal between the two countries to support regional security.

“In response to elevated threats in the Middle East over the past eight months, the Department of Defence has deployed US military forces to the region to enhance US defences and augment Saudi air and missile defence of critical military and civilian infrastructure,” Ms Rebarich told Middle East Eye on Friday.

“The Saudi government has agreed to help underwrite the cost of these activities and has made the first contribution,” she said.

Speaking on Fox News last week, US President Donald Trump said that Saudi Arabia had “already deposited $1 billion [£768m] in the bank,” indicating the importance of the symbiotic relationship to the US economy.

These kind of payments are not new. During the war on Iraq in the 1990s, Washington received payments totalling $36bn from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Gulf states.

It also received $331m for the cost of aerial refuelling operations that the US military provided to Saudi war planes carrying out air strikes in Yemen during the four-year bombardment that left the country on the brink of the world’s worst famine in a century.

War is also proving to be a boon for US-based arms dealers. A report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute issued at the end of last year showed they accounted for 59 per cent of the world’s total arms sales in 2018, an increase of 7.2 per cent from the previous year.

Washington is modernising its military with an ambitious and costly programme. Congress passed a record $738bn defence spending bill last month.

US actions across the Middle East, including the targeted assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani at Baghdad International airport earlier this month, are fuelling regional instability.

Mr Trump mobilised an additional 3,000 troops to Saudi Arabia at the end of last year to “protect the interests of the United States and enhance the protection of force in the region against hostile action by Iran and its forces of power.”

It had already amassed the biggest deployment of military hardware to the Persian Gulf in decades with an agreement to send 120,000 troops to the region.


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