Washington says it provides arms to the Middle East in the name of defense, but this activity has fomented wars while fragmenting the region, says Brian Becker from the anti-war Answer Coalition.
As the US defense industry is going through a boom time, the Pentagon has announced new arms contracts for Israel and Saudi Arabia, America’s main allies in the Middle East. Both of these countries are involved in conflicts in the region.
RT: Is the Middle East region turning into an endless source of weapons sales for the United States?
Brian Becker: Yes, indeed. We can see over the past 14 years starting with the US invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, then the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the continued occupation both of those countries for more than a decade. And then the bombing of Libya by NATO powers, led by the US, and then the infusion of funds and arms into the Syrian civil war. All of this has contributed to the fragmentation of the Middle East. But of course it’s been a great source of profit for those who make weapons in the US – the military industrial complex, the war contractors. They are a principle part of the American economy and for them this has been very big business.
RT: The Middle East is pretty rich in terms of natural resources such as oil for instance. Is it something the US is also interested in?
BB: Yes, you see more and more of the resources of the region, of the Middle East, and even though the region has a great deal of oil and some [countries] are very rich, the region is very poor. And yet a huge amount of the resources of the region are being diverted into weapons purchases. Who is at the source of those weapons?Principally and most importantly it’s the US war contractors, the military industrial complex, that are the source of the weapons and thus the ones who reap great profit. Yes, it’s getting bigger, it’s getting to be almost a limitless supply of weapons that cost money from the people of the region for wars that have destroyed the region and continue to fragment it every day.
RT: Arab buyers say they need American weapons as a means of defense against Iran. Isn’t this escalating the situation? If you have the weapons, aren’t you more likely to use them?
BB: Yes. We always hear the media reports that the Arab governments, the Gulf monarchies in particular – which are in fact fragile regimes because they have no domestic legitimacy – are constantly asking the US government for more weapon shipments. But there is another side of the equation. Behind the scenes the US government, the military and those who are the sellers of weapons, are telling the same governments – who are dependencies really on the US – that they need to be asking for weapons. So it goes both ways.
There is a great deal of money, which is transferred from the oil producing states to the coffers of weapons manufactures in the name of the defense of these regimes. But those weapons don’t really defend the regimes. In fact you can see the real problem that the regimes face is the internal demands for democracy, for change. It’s not an external force from Iran that really threatens these regimes.
RT: Why would the US sell weapons to Israel’s arch enemy, Saudi Arabia?
BB: The US has not just Israel, which of course it has as its principle anchoring force, as an extension of the US military power in the Middle East, and Israel receives four billion dollars each and every year – the large recipient of US military aid. But the US does not control or have power over the Middle East simply through Israel; it also uses Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies. And Saudi Arabia, even though it’s a Muslim country and an Islamic state, they are not the enemies of Israel. They are in fact collaborating with Israel and have been doing such for a long time. So I don’t think we should see Saudi Arabia and Israel as foes that the US happens to support. I think in fact they are part of the network of control and power exercised by the US.