Iran talks spurs lucrative US defense contracts in Middle East

Reuters / Carlos Barria
The P5+1 has yet to clinch a deal with Iran on its nuclear program, but US arms suppliers are already using the talks as an excuse for massive rearmament of some of the most belligerent states in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia, which, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, spent $80 billion on weapons last year (more than the nuclear powers France or Britain), will most likely get 10 Sikorsky MH-60R helicopters from the United Technologies Corp. (USA). This contract may bring the American company $1.9 billion in profits, according to Bloomberg news agency.

Lockheed Martin, another US arms supplier, may net as much as $1.75 billion for 202 Lockheed PAC-3 missiles. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is waging war on the territory of its neighbor Yemen, where Saudis are fighting against the Houthi Shiite militia. Thousands of people are reported to have been killed by Saudi airstrikes. According to an interview given to RT by Stephen Goose, the executive director of the Arms Division at Human Right Watch, HRW has evidence that the Saudi air force used cluster bombs – deadly weapons, each of which destroys all humans and animals in an area the size of a football field. “The United States provided cluster munitions to both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates,” Goose said in an interview to RT television.

The deadly consequences of the use of the cluster weapons by the Saudi air force in Yemen and by the Ukrainian armed forces against the rebel-held areas in south-eastern Ukraine were reported by HRW. “It is important to stigmatize the use of cluster weapons by anyone,” Goose continued. “They, like chemical weapons or biological warfare, should not be used by anyone anywhere.”

Well, this is easier said than done with the current governments in the Middle East, Ukraine and Washington.

The other major recipient of American “emergency military aid” in anticipation of the P5+1-Iran deal is the state of Israel. According to Bloomberg, in May 2015 the US congress approved a $1.9 billion arms sale to Israel. The Jewish state, with its record of committing human rights violations against the Palestinian population and highly publicized plans of a “preemptive strike” against Iran, will get 50 BLU-113 “bunker-buster” bombs and 3,000 Hellfire anti-armor missiles.

Despite human rights abuses, the United States continues to pump weapons into the neighboring monarchies of Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE. According to the New York Times, the UAE spent $23 billion on defense in 2014, three times more than they spent in 2006. But Saudi Arabia, with its $80 billion, remains the uncontested leader in the region and the world’s fourth largest defense market.

READ MORE: Very hard sell’: Any deal with Iran may face US Congress disapproval

Washington appears to be unperturbed by Bahrain’s crackdown in 2011 against its protest movement, led by the Shiite Moslems, complaining of discrimination. Interestingly, in 2011, this rebellion was seen as an undeniable part of the ‘Arab Spring’, a series of insurgencies praised by US politicians as the long-awaited “awakening” of the democratic forces in the region. Qatar, also a monarchy not inclined to flirt with constitutions or checks and balances, has been allowed to bless the US defense industry with an $11 billion deal to buy Apache attack helicopters and Javelin (as well as Patriot) air defense systems. Qatar is also expected to buy Boeing F-15 fighters. They will replace the outdated French Mirage jets, bought by the previous emir of this Middle Eastern nation.

The US attempts to morally justify its increased arms supplies to Israel and to Gulf states by the need to offset the “advantage” that Iran might get as a result of the deal now negotiated in Vienna. Ideally, this deal should lead to the lifting of sanctions and should “normalize” the situation of Iran, allowing it to develop its program of peaceful development of nuclear energy. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on many occasions dismissed this program as “dangerous” and “an existential threat to Israel.” Thus, the US is seemingly “helping” Iran, assuaging Israel’s fears and procuring fat contracts to US defense industry.

But are Washington’s motives indeed so idealistic?

“Saudi Arabia spends 13 times more money on its defense than Iran does,” Tritta Parsi, the president of the National American-Iranian Council, told RT.“But somehow Iran, and not Saudi Arabia, is seen by the US as the potential aggressor.”

Iran, since the Islamic revolution in 1979, has not attacked a single foreign country (on the contrary, it was attacked by Iraq’s Saddam Hussein in the early 1980s and was under constant threat of US or Israeli air strikes ever since).

At the same time, Saudi Arabia, besides providing 15 out of 19 participants in the 9/11 terrorist act in the United States in 2001, attacked neighboring Yemen, took part in the military action against Libya in 2011, and destabilized Syria in 2011-2015 by sending arms and “volunteers” to anti-Assad insurgents.

Now, Israel and the US for some reason consider the Gulf States less dangerous than Iran. The radicals from the Sunni-dominated Gulf states - despite having among them such “celebrities” as Osama bin Laden and the 9/11 perpetrators - are expected to be nicer to Israel than the Shia-dominated Revolutionary Guard from Iran. That same “evil” guard, which happens to be fighting the so called Islamic State in Iraq now – protecting the world from barbarity.

Dmitry Babich is a political analyst with Sputnik radio

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.