[The Middle East Newsline did the research for this piece]
There is no question about it: The economic power of Saudi Arabia will be a factor for the next American administration to cope with.
The United States Congressional Research Service recently ranked Saudi Arabia, the only Arab nation still in an active state of war with Israel, No.1 in arms transfer agreements and weapons acquisitions. The report of the United States Congressional Research Service stated that Saudi Arabia achieved the ranking in 2007 after years of reduced military procurement.
“In 2007, Saudi Arabia ranked first in the value of arms transfer agreements among all developing nations weapons purchasers, concluding $10.6 billion in such agreements,” the U.S. report, authored by analyst Richard Grimmett, said. “India ranked second with $5 billion in such agreements.”
The report, titled “Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2000-2007,” said Saudi Arabia marked the resumption of an Arab military buildup since 2007. CRS said seven of the top weapons recipients last year were in the Middle East.
“Most recently, the position of Saudi Arabia as principal arms purchaser in the Persian Gulf region has been re-established,” the report said. “In the period from 2000-2003, Saudi Arabia’s total arms agreements were valued at $3.2 billion — in current dollars — less than the levels of the United Arab Emirates Egypt, and Israel. For the period from 2004-2007, Saudi Arabia’s total arms agreements were $23.2 billion, making it the leading Near East purchaser once again.”
CRS said the Middle East accounted for 46.3 percent of all developing nation arms transfer agreements from 2004 to 2007. During the period of 2000-2003, the Middle East represented 42.3 percent of military contracts by developing nations.
The report said the United States has fallen sharply from its position as the leading weapons supplier to the Middle East. During 2004-2007, CRS said the United States accounted for 32.8 percent of military contracts to the Middle East, down from 73.6 percent from 2000 to 2003. Since 2004, Britain captured 27.9 percent of the Middle East market; Russia accounted for 20.9 percent of arms transfer agreements.
“Most recently, the nations in the Near East and Asia regions have resumed large weapons purchases in contrast with arms sales activity in the earliest years of this report,” the report said. “These major orders continue to be made by a select few developing nations in these regions. They have been made principally by India and China in Asia, and Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the Near East. These purchasing tendencies are subject to abrupt change based on the strength of either the threat assessments of individual states or the strength of their individual economies.”
In other words, regardless of the continuing Saudi war with Israel, the arms trade with Saudi Arabia can be quite profitable.