In many ways, selling the Saudi military expensive American weapons is a bit like selling a man the world’s most expensive tampon. Even if said product is the finest in the world, the buyer has no need for it and more importantly, has no manifest ability to use it.
This is why the $350 billion arms deal ($110 billion to be completed with immediate effect) that Donald Trump just sealed with the Saudi’s is a combination of three things.
First of all, it represents Trump and apparently his son-in-law Jared Kushner who helped seal the deal, laughing all the way to the bank.
Secondly, it represents a great immortal by the US for arming one of the world’s biggest state sponsors of terrorism. However, this is not the first time the US has armed a state sponsor of terrorism and certainly will not be the last. It’s simply a continuation of a decades long trend.
Thirdly, as badly trained and as incapable as the Saudis are at using their expensive American, British and European arms, when they do hit their ‘targets’, they typically slaughter innocent civilians in a war in Yemen that while appearing a stalemate from a distance, is one that the Saudis are losing in the sense that all of their expensive hardware cannot beat a small Houthi fighting force in an historically poor country whose assistance from Iran is grossly exaggerated by the western mainstream media.
It is true that all large and most medium sized nations sell weapons and the Saudis can afford more of them than most, however the military effectiveness of these weapons is ultimately reliant on those using them.
Iran recently said that if the Saudis are hellbent on war with Iran, Iran would easily destroy Saudi Arabia. This is largely true. I have little doubt that the poorly trained and largely inexperienced Saudi soldiers would likely dessert in droves if the Saudi regime was so foolish as to start a war with Iran’s military, which is without doubt the most highly trained, disciplined and fierce in the region.
The Saudi weapons don’t even serve as a deterrent factor because while Iran dislikes the Saudi regime (as do the vast majority of Arabs, incidentally), Iran has never had any meaningful desire to actually export its Islamic Revolution to the Gulf. This was of course a worry in the 1980s, but one which was largely without merit.
In the early 1980s Iran could have exported its revolution to Saudi and could have even perhaps struck a deal with Iraq whereby the Arabian peninsula would have been divided between Ba’athist Iraq and Islamic Iran. Iraq even under Saddam Hussein was ultimately more desirous to regain ‘lost’ Iraqi territory in the northern Gulf than it was keen on destroying Iran. Had Iran made such a deal with Iraq before the west corrupted Iraqi foreign policy in the 1980s, this could have been a realistic scenario, but only under the assumption Iran was actually interested in exporting its revolution which in fact it largely was not.
As it were, because Saudi Arabia’s army in the 1980s was totally dismal, the west encouraged the well trained Iraqi Army to make war upon Iran, a war which ended in an effective stalemate but one which Iran viewed as a moral victory. Sadly, Saddam Hussein eagerly took the western bait and entered a war that was never in Iraq’s actual interests.
Today, there is no chance that Iraq would come to Saudi Arabia’s aid in a time of war. Many combat hardened Shi’a fighters in Iraq and also Syria and Lebanon would race to help Iran in such a war. Egypt would almost certainly put its collective heads in the sand.
For all the bluster, Pakistan has too much on its hands internally and on its Afghan border to risk its troops in a war with Iran. Pakistan isn’t about to make itself the epicentre of what could become a world conflict on the risk that if they win, Saudi Arabia will bankroll its country, especially as oil prices continue to plummet.
Even America knows that war with Iran would be a disaster. Going in along with the Saudis would only make this analysis more magnified in America’s minds, certainly this is privately understood in Washington.
Saudi Arabia is therefore isolated in its own region. Their armed forces are no match for Iran in spite of Saudi’s expensive weapons and the Salafist fighters from various parts of the Arab world they could recruit, do not have the discipline nor generally speaking, the courage to take on Iran, in Iran.
On this day, Donald Trump and Iran ought to both be laughing and ironically for similar reasons.