Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Middle East Loses $12 Trillion in 20 Years, as
US Strikes Record Arms Deals
By Rick Rozoff
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, September 6, 2010
Rick Rozoff views the United
States’ growing arms exports to Middle East countries, which will spend an
estimated 100 billion dollars on arms from the US by 2014, and the lost
opportunities for development in a region that “has known the least peace in
the past 60 years and that is in most need of it”.
The internet has
provided the world with, if nothing else, instantaneous access to news and
in-depth information previously available only to governments and think
tanks. It has also allowed for the exchange of data and analyses between
groups and individuals around the globe, in part by making one tongue,
English, the language of the World Wide Web. It remains to be seen whether
the keystroke is mightier than the sword.
An illustrative case in
point is a report dated 29 August from China's Xinhua News Agency on a news
article by Egypt's Middle East News Agency regarding a study conducted by
the Strategic Foresight Group in India. The study, published in a book
entitled The Cost of Conflict in the Middle East, calculates that
conflict in the area over the last 20 years has cost
the nations and people of the region 12 trillion US dollars.
The Indian report adds that the Middle East has had "a high record of
military expenses in the past 20 years and is considered the most armed
region in the world".
The study was originally released in January
2009 and was recently translated into Arabic by the Institute for Peace
Studies of Egypt. It estimates that in a peaceful environment the nations of
the Middle East could have achieved an average annual growth in gross
domestic product of 8 per cent.
Sundeep Waslekar, President of the
Strategic Foresight Group and one of the report's authors, was quoted in
January 2009 saying of the region's nations: "The choice they have to make
is the choice between the danger of devastation and the promise of peace."
(Reuters news agency, 23 January 2009)
An account of the presentation
of the report last year added that the cost of conflict in the region is
estimated at 2 per cent of growth in gross domestic product.
regards to specific cases, it stated:
One conclusion is that individuals
in most countries are half as rich as they would have been if peace had
taken off in 1991.
Incomes per head in Israel next year would be
44,241 dollars with peace against a likely 23,304 dollars. In the West Bank
and Gaza Strip they would be 2,427 dollars instead of 1,220 dollars.
For Iraq, income per head next year is projected at 2,375 dollars, one
quarter of the 9,681 dollars that would have been possible without the
conflicts of the past two decades. (Reuters, 23 January 2009)
sources estimate the overall rate of unemployment in the Middle East at
20-25 per cent, with joblessness in nations like Lebanon and Yemen at 30 per
cent or more. This despite the fact that the region has achieved one of the
world’s more impressive successes in improving educational opportunities,
measured by the number of years students spend in school.
East requires comprehensive regional development, but instead is receiving
billions of dollars worth of arms.”
The Middle East requires
comprehensive regional development, but instead is receiving billions of
dollars worth of arms. The area's nations could be spending that sum on
rural and urban infrastructure, dams and reservoirs, desalination and
irrigation, forestation and fisheries, industry and agriculture, medicine
and public health, housing and information technology, equitable integration
of cities and villages, and repairing the ravages of past wars rather than
on US warplanes, attack helicopters and interceptor missiles.
In 2009, an American news report revealed
that, according to a US-based consultancy firm, several Middle Eastern
nations were set to spend over 100 billion dollars on weapons in the
upcoming five years. Most of those arms purchases -- "unprecedented
packages" – would be undertaken by Iraq, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United
Arab Emirates (UAE), and the "core of this arms-buying spree will
undoubtedly be the 20-billion-dollar US package of weapons systems over 10
years for the six states of the Gulf Cooperation Council -- Saudi Arabia,
the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain". The expansion of American arms
sales and military presence in the Persian Gulf targets Iran in the first
The same feature documented plans for the US to supply Egypt
with a 13-billion-dollar arms package and Israel with 30 billion dollars in
weaponry over 10 years, the latter "a 25-per-cent increase over previous
levels". (United Press International, 25 August 2009)
later it was disclosed that Washington will sell 13-billion-dollars worth of
arms and military equipment to Iraq, "a huge order of tanks, ships and
hardware that US officials say shows Iraqi-US military ties will be tight
for years to come". A 3-billion-dollar deal for 18 F-16 Fighting Falcon
multirole jet fighters is also in the works. Iraq will become one of the
largest purchasers of US weapons in the world.
According to the US
army's Lieutenant-General Michael Barbero, senior American officer in charge
of training and advising Iraqi troops, such military agreements help "build
their capabilities, first and foremost; and second, it builds our strategic
relationship for the future". (USA Today, 31 August 2010)
million Iraqis displaced since 2003, 2.2 million as refugees in Jordan,
Syria and other nations, and a near collapse of the nation's civilian
infrastructure since the US invasion, surely there are better ways of
spending 16 billion dollars than on American arms.
south, last month the US announced one of the largest weapons sales in its
history: a 60-billion-dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia. The Pentagon
notified Congress of the colossal transaction which the US legislative body
will approve later this month.
Over the next decade Washington will
supply Saudi Arabia with F-15SA Strike Eagle jet fighters (SA is for Saudi
Advanced), 72 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, 60 AH-64D Apache Longbow attack
helicopters, helicopter-carrying offshore patrol vessels and upgrades for
the 96 Patriot Advanced Capability-2 interceptor missiles already stationed
in the kingdom.
Last month Kuwait announced that it planned to
purchase more than 200 US Patriot anti-ballistic missiles in a 900 million
dollar deal. The US Defence Department also advised Congress of that
transaction, stating "Kuwait needs these missiles to meet current and future
threats of enemy air-to-ground weapons".
The news agency which
reported the above, Agence France-Presse, also provided the following
information: “The US has several military bases in Kuwait, including Camp
Arifjan, one of the biggest US military facilities in the region. There are
between 15,000 and 20,000 US troops stationed in Kuwait." (Agence
France-Press, 1 September 2010) The American Fifth Fleet is headquartered in
The US is also providing Bahrain, Qatar and the
United Arab Emirates with Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile interception
Last year Washington approved the transfer of a Terminal
High Altitude Air Defence (THAAD) missile shield system to the United Arab
Emirates. The deal, estimated to cost 7 billion dollars, is the first
transfer of the advanced interceptor missiles outside the US.
In May the Barack Obama administration requested 205 million
dollars from Congress for the Israeli Iron Dome layered interceptor missile
shield, in the words of a Pentagon spokesman "the first direct US investment
in the Iron Dome system". (Reuters, 13 May 2010)
In the autumn of
2008 the US opened an interceptor missile radar base in Israel's Negev
Desert centred on a Forward-Based X-Band Radar with a range of 2,900 miles.
This August 15 Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak announced his country
is to receive -- one can't say buy - 20 US F-35 Joint Strike Fighters worth
96 million dollars apiece along with spare parts, maintenance and
simulators. "The 2.7-billion-dollar-deal will be paid for using US military
assistance." (Russian Information Agency Novosti, 15 August 2010) The fifth
generation stealth warplanes are the world's most advanced. According to
Israeli government sources, in reference to the prospect of eventual
deployment of Russian air defences to Iran and Syria, "the purchase of F-35
fighters would effectively eliminate the threat from Russian-made S-300 air
defence systems because a series of computer simulations had clearly
demonstrated that new US stealth fighters outperform the Russian missiles".
This year the US State Department confirmed that 2.55 billion dollars in
US military assistance was given to Israel in 2009 and that the figure will
"increase to 3 billion dollars in 2012, and will total 3.15 billion dollars
a year from 2013 to 2018". (Reuters, 13 May 2010) That is, it will grow by
almost 25 per cent.
Since the administration of Jimmy Carter and his
National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski bought off Anwar Sadat and
through him Egypt in 1978 at the expense of Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and
other Arab states, Washington has provided Cairo with 1.3 billion dollars a
year in military aid, adding up to 50 billion dollars by 2008.
In January of this year, General David Petraeus, then head of US Central
Command and now in charge of 150,000 American and NATO troops in
Afghanistan, visited Yemen and called for more than doubling military aid to
the strife-torn nation from 70 to 150 million dollars annually. He was later
forced to retract his comments, but the Wall Street Journal reported on 2
September that "The US military's Central Command has proposed pumping as
much as 1.2 billion dollars over five years into building up Yemen's
security forces." The United Nations Statistics Division estimated Yemeni
gross national income per capita for 2008 at 1,260 dollars.
has launched several missile strikes inside Yemen over the past nine months
and "US Special Operations teams … play an expansive role in the country".
(Wall Street Journal, 2 September 2010) Funding for what the Pentagon
describes as a counterterrorism programme in the country has grown from 5
million dollars a year in fiscal year 2006 to over 155 million dollars four
Washington is planning to add unmanned aerial vehicles
(drones) equipped with lethal missiles operated by the Central Intelligence
Agency to its operations in Yemen, replicating the same arrangement in
“The (by Lebanese standards) unprecedented donations
of arms and military equipment by the Pentagon were explicitly for internal
use -- against Hezbollah -- and for deployment at the Syrian border. Not for
defending the nation against the country that had invaded it in 1978, 1983
and 2006 - Israel.”
After the so-called Cedar Revolution in Lebanon in
2005 -- modeled after comparable "colour revolutions" in the former Soviet
states of Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan in 2003, 2004 and 2005
respectively -- led to the withdrawal of Syrian troops from the country and
the installation of pro-Western Fouad Siniora as prime minister, the US
re-established military contacts with Lebanon, which had been broken off
after 1983. A dozen US military officials travelled to Beirut at the end of
the year, inspecting bases as part of a "comprehensive assessment of the
condition of US-made equipment in the Lebanon armed forces". (Chicago
Tribune, 2 March 2006)
After the Israeli invasion of the country the
following summer, Washington started military aid to the nation of four
million people which two years later had exceeded 410 million dollars.
According to an Associated Press account in 2008, "The [George W. Bush]
administration has spent about 1.3 billion dollars in the past two years
trying to prop up Siniora's Western-allied government, including about 400
million dollarsin military aid". (Associated Press, 14 May 2008)
October 2008, the US established a joint military commission with Lebanon
"to bolster military cooperation".
The (by Lebanese standards)
unprecedented donations of arms and military equipment by the Pentagon were
explicitly for internal use -- against Hezbollah -- and for deployment at
the Syrian border. Not for defending the nation against the country that had
invaded it in 1978, 1983 and 2006 -- Israel.
On 2 August this year, a
day before two Lebanese soldiers were killed in a firefight with Israeli
troops on Lebanese territory, Congressman Howard Berman, chairman of the
House Foreign Affairs Committee, blocked a 100-million-dollars security
assistance package to the Lebanese military. There should be no
misunderstanding: the Pentagon has not built up the armed forces of
post-"Cedar" Lebanon to defend the nation, its people or even the army
The sum blocked by Berman, added to that already provided by
the Pentagon, well exceeds half a billion dollars. That amount of money
would go a long way in alleviating the suffering of 900,000 Lebanese
displaced and in rebuilding some of the 30,000 housing units destroyed by
the Israeli military in 2006.
Weapons are the most expensive of
manufactured goods and the least productive, generating no value and
designed only to destroy and kill. They are not produced solely or primarily
to be displayed in parades or at air shows.
The Middle East is that
part of the world that has known the least peace in the past 60 years and
that is in most need of it. Regional disputes -- over land and borders, over
water and other resources -- need to be resolved in a non-antagonistic
The foreign and national security policies of the region's
states need to be demilitarized. Disarmament of both conventional and
nuclear forces is imperative.
Washington pouring over 100 billion
dollars in news arms into the Middle East will not contribute to the safety
and security of its inhabitants. It will not benefit the nations of the
region. In truth, not a single one of them.
Rick Rozoff runs the blog
‘Stop NATO: Opposition to Global
A version of this article was originally published
at the ‘Stop NATO’ blog.