Encouraging Arabs and other Muslims to Kill each other is Good for U.S. Weapons Industry

Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Qatar seeks to replace its aging fighter fleet (above) with Boeing F-15s (photo: Louisa Gouliamaki, Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

The Saudi Arabia-led Sunni coalition versus the Iran-backed Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) versus ISIS in Syria. Qatar arming Islamist militias in Libya and rebels in Syria to battle government forces. It’s all good in the eyes of American merchants of war.


The raging conflicts in the Middle East have involved all kinds of U.S. weaponry built by and sold by defense contractors. They’ve made millions of dollars off weapons sales to the oil-rich Persian Gulf states, and they’re likely to make even more as these governments seek to replenish or upgrade their arsenals.


Saudi Arabia’s attacks on Yemeni rebels were made possible by F-15 fighter jets purchased from Boeing, while the UAE air force has hit ISIS in Syria using F-16s made by Lockheed Martin. The UAE also wants General Atomics’ Predator drones “to run spying missions in their neighborhood,” according to The New York Times.


More weapons deals are expected as the Saudis and Emirates, plus Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan and Egypt seek to “buy thousands of American-made missiles, bombs and other weapons, replenishing an arsenal that has been depleted over the past year,” Mark Mazzetti and Helene Cooper wrote at the Times.


The purchases by the Gulf states have been staggering. Saudi Arabia spent more than $80 billion on weapons in 2014, while the UAE spent $23 billion. Qatar forked out $11 billion on just one deal with the U.S. to acquire Apache attack helicopters and Patriot and Javelin air-defense systems. Now they want F-15s, as well.


Soon, the Saudis and other Gulf states may push to get the latest in U.S. tactical aircraft: the F-35, said to be the most sophisticated—yet highly trouble-plagued—fighter plane ever built by the American arms industry.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Sale of U.S. Arms Fuels the Wars of Arab States (by Mark Mazzetti and Helene Cooper, New York Times)

Lawsuits Accuse Obama Administration of Abandoning Americans Stuck in Yemen (by Steve Straehley, AllGov)

Obama Approves Weapons for Egyptian Tyrant (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)

U.S. Loses Track of $500 Million Worth of Weapons in Yemen, Including Drones, Helicopters and 1.2 Million Rounds of Ammo (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

U.S. Dominates Weapons Export Market as Profits Grow with Sales to the Middle East (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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