Donald Trump is a man known for his love of big boy weapons. Yet the unquiet American showed over the weekend that he is, in fact, the caring and sharing kind. Though this comes at a price.
A staggering $350 billion dollars to be precise. This is the amount he is charging his Saudi hosts for American arms. Not one to waste time, Trump got Riyadh to sign off on an immediate $110 billion, even before excerpts were released of his much anticipated speech on Islam.
Ever the businessman, Trump is literally making the Muslim world pick up the tab for the Islamic Military Alliance. The American side has described the deal as a means to help the Saudis counter the "malign" Iranian influence. That this was inked the very day that President Hassan Rouhani's return to power was confirmed tells us all we need to know about where Trump sees ties with Tehran heading for the foreseeable future.
It is also a clear signal that the leader of the free world couldn't give two hoots about one of the poorest countries in the world. For with the final flourish of this pen - Trump sealed the fate of the 2.1million Yemeni children who have spent the last two years living in famine and conflict thanks to the Gulf Cooperation Council military intervention in Yemen, with Saudi Arabia in the driving seat.
Thus it is not the human cost of war that is considered in the run-up to the West's first battle cry. Rather, privatisation of the profits of war is the priority, with an eye always firmly placed on the enormous remittances returned to those nations who openly selling weapons of mass destruction on the free market of global capitalism.
Thus US, as the world's largest arms exporter, deserves to bear most of the brunt. Yet, Britain - a nation that has for far too long literally traded on outdated notions of fighting for the underdog - has quietly emerged to take the silver. Meaning that it is now the world's second largest arms exporter. A full two-thirds of Britain's weapons currently find themselves on one or both sides of conflicts in the Middle East. To put this into perspective within the Yemen context, the US and Britain between them have spent a measly $371.5 million on aid to that country. Measly when compared to Britain charging Saudi Arabia a cool 3.3 billion GBP for arms sold since the launch of Operation Decisive Storm back in 2015.
The Trump visit to Riyadh has been welcomed by the Saudi kingdom as a resetting of the bilateral relationship as well as Washington's ties with the rest of the Muslim world. With the exceptions of, you know, countries like Iran, Syria and Yemen. How different things might have been had Trump's hosts and his larger Muslim audience used the opportunity to reset their own relationship with both the region and their western patrons. What a wonderful world it might have been. *