IN the US there has been an opinion poll like “What is the first word that comes to mind when you think of Donald Trump?” The results were not generally complimentary. But for many Thais, US President Trump is viewed as the world’s most successful arms salesman.
A number of Thai analysts wrote on their Facebook pages that President Trump had created tension threatening to invade North Korea if it continued to test its ballistic missile and nuclear bombs. It ended up with US installing the anti-missile system called THAAD in South Korea and later calling for South Korea to pay one billion US dollars for the weapon.
Then again tension had been allegedly created by US in the Middle East and President Trump had been successful in selling arms to those countries.
To many people’s surprise, US had just sold Qatar over $21 billion of US weapons.One portion of that deal – $12 billion for 36 F-15QA fighter jets – was inked last Wednesday just five days after President Trump accused the country of being a sponsor of terrorism. The deal included 36 F-15 combat aircraft. The deal was said to be in an effort to eradicate terrorism and promote a future of dignity and prosperity. The Pentagon claimed the sale would increase security cooperation between US and Qatar.
President Trump’s accusation that Qatar is a “high-level” sponsor of terrorism had led to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Libya, Bahrain, and Maldives cutting their ties with Qatar. The move opened up the worst rift in years among some of the most powerful states in the Arab world.
Iran — long at odds with Saudi Arabia and a behind-the-scenes target of the move — immediately blamed President Trump for setting the stage during his recent trip to Riyahd during which he managed to sell over US$350 billion of arms to Saudi Arabia over the next 10 years with US$110 deal done immediately. According to a statement issued by the White House, President Trump has just completed largest single arms deal in US history.
Earlier in March this year, The Trump administration decided to press ahead with a multibillion-dollar arms sale to Bahrain, indicating a new US willingness to pump weaponry into global trouble spots and fuel lucrative but destabilizing regional arms races.
Barack Obama declined to approve the Bahrain deal last year amid concern over the latest crackdown on opposition leaders since the Shia uprising in 2011. Obama said Bahrain had failed to fulfill promises to improve its record.
And more arm sales are to come.
Lawmakers in the United States have just called for the Trump administration to speed up arms sales to Taiwan.
The calls came after the Central American nation Panama announced recently that it was switching ties from Taipei to Beijing, dealing a political blow to the island.
The Taiwanese authorities had expressed appreciation for the call for speedier arms sales made by members of the US House of Representatives during a meeting on US-Taiwan ties.
Top: US President Donald Trump has said his first international trip was a success. Photo: Abc New
Inset: The F-15QA fighter jets which Qatar has opted to buy. Photo: Mideast.liveuamap.com
By Kowit Sanandang