Peace through superior firing power?

WHILE US President Donald Trump has been successful in selling huge amount of arms to Saudi Arabia, North Korea has also been successful in launching another ballistic missile in its latest test, the two key events which would certainly not make the world a better place to live in.

Most western media reported the US arms deal to Saudi Arabia is a move to solidify its decades-long alliance with the world’s largest oil producer just as President Trump began his maiden trip abroad as leader of the free world.

The agreement, which is worth over $350 billion over ten years and $110 billion that will take effect immediately, was hailed by the White House as “a significant expansion of the security relationship” between the two countries, the reports said.

The arms package is a boost for Saudi Arabia’s military capabilities as tensions flare in the region, with US viewing the Saudis as a linchpin in efforts to check the global ambitions of Iran. Saudi Arabia, the hub of Islam’s most revered sites, is also a target of radical Islamic extremism.

Somkiat Osotsapa, a lecture at the Faculty of Economics, Chulalongkorn University, said in his Facebook that this deal is huge.  The immediate deal of US$110 billion is roughly equivalent to 3.7 trillion baht which is greater than 2.7 trillion baht annual budget of Thailand for the current year. He pointed out that such a deal is just like blackmail.  “That’s the amount of protection Saudi has to pay. This will benefit the US’s arms industry a great deal.”

Another analyst also commented that this is a good trick carried out by US.  Earlier former US President Barack Obama seemed to be soft with Iran over the nuclear deal, making Saudi Arabia worried about the possible threat by its rival, Iran.  Obama also seemed to be less willing to sell anti-missile system to Saudi Arabia.  So this time around, Trump’s visit is an opportunity to rebuild ties with a key ally, strained under Obama who Sunni Arab Gulf states suspected of a tilt towards their Shiite regional rival Iran.  “It’s a win-win for both at a high cost for Riyadh and benefit for US in financial terms.”

He said it’s a surprise to see Saudi Arabia agreeing to pay that much money because its fiscal position is not that strong.  The sharp fall in oil prices and the increase in geopolitical tensions in the region have raised a number of questions over the prospects of the Saudi economy.  Economic growth is sluggish and the fiscal situation continues to deteriorate.  In 2015, official estimates show that the government ran a record deficit of 15% of GDP.

But for President Trump, it’s a relief for him to have done a great deal for his county’s economy. Over the course of last week, the White House had been overwhelmed by news stemming from an inquiry into the Trump campaign’s alleged links to Russia, and the abrupt dismissal of former FBI Director James Comey.

Pok Pluek Torarat, whose Facebook page reports almost everyday on the war in Syria and the Middle East, said all along that US has interfered with internal affairs of many countries which are not toeing its line like Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria which are rich with natural resources like petroleum and gold.  Wars with those countries have killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people and internal conflicts still continue until these days with US being accused of creating the so-called Isis and supporting arms for them to fight in those countries.

He said US can do whatever they like.  For example, it can invade any countries (like Syria at the moment), test its nuclear bombs and missiles any time and it and its allies can have as many nuclear bombs as they like.  But for countries like North Korea or Iran, they cannot do so.  Even without nuclear, Iraq had been invaded by US and its allied upon being wrongly accused of having weapons of mass destruction.

But this time around North Korea’s Kim Jong Un just went ahead with testing ballistic missiles with the latest being fired yesterday.  So far US does not know how to deal with Mr Kim because it’s not so sure if Mr Kim would fight back using nuclear weapons.  “Without nuclear weapon, North Korea would be like Syria where US can fire hundreds of Tomahawk at will,” he said.


Top: King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia and US President Donald Trump take part in a group photo at the opening session of the Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia  yesterday. Photo: Saudi Press Agency / EPA via NBC News




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