Saudi crown prince’s visit affirms Saudi-US strategic alliance

Sunday, 2018-03-25 14:11:15
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US President Donald Trump welcomes Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, March 20, 2018. (Photo: Reuters)
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NDO – Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has paid his first official visit to the US since being elevated to the position of crown prince. With the focus on discussing an arms deal worth billions of dollars and a series of other agreements between the two countries, as well as regional issues, the visit affirms the strategic alliance between the US and Saudi Arabia.

At the reception for the Saudi crown prince at the White House Oval Office, US President Donald Trump praised the relationship between Washington and Riyadh. He said the two countries' relations are as good as they have been and will continue to grow. The US President appreciated the effectiveness of the arms deal signed last year, while stressing that Saudi Arabia's large investments in the US have contributed to the creation of 40,000 jobs for local workers.

In response, the crown prince said the arms deal with the US will be implemented within ten years and would reached US$400 billion when it comes to the final stage and this shows that there will be many more opportunities ahead.

The meeting between the US President and the Crown Prince Salman took place in the context of the US Senate having unanimously abolished the resolution on ending US support for the Saudi Arabia’s military campaign in the civil war in Yemen. The resolution made use of a provision in the 1973 War Powers Act that allows any senator to introduce a resolution on whether to withdraw US armed forces from a conflict that has not been authorised by Congress. During the Senate debate before the vote, some backers called the three-year-long conflict in Yemen a "humanitarian catastrophe." The resolution abolishment again reaffirmed the US support for Saudi Arabia, which is leading air strikes to eradicate the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia plans to strengthen its defence industry with the goal of diversifying non-oil fields. The plan could create more jobs and develop new technologies as Riyadh is seeking solutions to tackle youth unemployment and meet its growing demand for weapons. Saudi Arabia has set up a general administration for military industry, which is a government agency with great power in military procurement as well as research and development.

During the visit, the US Department of State announced the sale of anti-tank missile TOW, as well as spare parts for armoured fighting vehicles and maintenance services for Saudi Arabia under three separate agreements worth a total of US$1.1 billion. The main contractor for this deal is the Raytheon Group based in Tucson, Arizona. The Defence Security Cooperation Agency also submitted the agreement to the US Congress for approval.

The deal is expected to support US foreign policy and national security objectives by improving the security of "friends", and in line with US initiatives to provide its key partners ​​with modern weapon systems, which helps to enhance combat capabilities in conjunction with the US forces, providing the basis for Riyadh's increased contribution to anti-terrorist campaigns in the Middle East, thereby reducing the burden on the US military.

During the visit to the US by Crown Prince Salman, in addition to meetings with American leaders and politics, there were also working sessions with representatives from leading US corporations in Wall Street. The US-Saudi Arabia Business Forum in New York, with a range of trade and investment cooperation agreements being signed during the visit, reinforces the trust between the two allies. In particular, the arms deal between the two has helped the US to reaffirm its commitment to securing a "security umbrella" in its partnership with Saudi Arabia, while expanding opportunities in the Middle East for American companies.