The trump administration is reported to be near an arms deal with Saudi Arabia which will be initially worth $100 billion and eventually as much as $300 billion. The deal would enhance the desert kingdom’s ability to participate in the war on terror and to confront Iran. The agreement would not, coincidentally, be a big boost to American manufacturing and job creation. The deal may be announced during President Trump’s upcoming foreign trip which includes a stop in Saudi Arabia

What does Saudi Arabia get out of the arms deal?

The United States would provide the Saudis with a wide variety of weapons along with maintenance services.

The Kingdom would also get missile defense capability and ships needed for maintaining security in the Persian Gulf against Iran, which is considered a hostile power to the Gulf Arab states.

The previous administration had tried to achieve some kind of détente with the Islamic Republic of Iran, forging a nuclear weapons deal and providing that country with plane loads of cash from assets that had been frozen for years as part of economic sanctions. Those moves had rattled the Arab states which view Iran as a threat. The Trump White House is moving to repair damaged relations in the Middle East.

Why is the Trump Administration doing this weapons deal?

Saudi Arabia is being seen increasingly as an ally in the global war on terror.

Saudi troops are currently fighting ISIS in Yemen. Since the Trump Administration is taking a decidedly harder line on Iran than the previous president, the Saudis will need weapons such as missile defense batteries and ships. The deal is so immense that it will also provide an economic stimulus for American defense contractors, something that will benefit the White House’s domestic agenda.

Are there any problems with the deal?

Saudi Arabia remains a human rights violator, particularly where women and LGBT people are concerned. The Kingdom has also been a center of extremist rhetoric that has inspired terrorism to some extent. Most of the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks were Saudi citizens. Trump, during his visit to Riyadh, will drive home the message that the Saudis need to tamp down on extremism within the Kingdom as a way to prevent the growth of terrorism.

The White House emphasizes that Israel’s military superiority over its Arab neighbors will be maintained. In any case, Israel has developed a tacit alliance with countries like Saudi Arabia against common enemies, including Iran and ISIS. Trump will be visiting Israel as well as part of his first foreign trip.