Brookings Institution: Trump's $110 billion Saudi arms deal is "fake news"

"There is no $110 billion deal" with Saudi Arabia

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published June 6, 2017 8:48AM (EDT)

 (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Bruce Reidel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, has written an article describing President Donald Trump's recent claim to have sold $110 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia as "fake news."

"I’ve spoken to contacts in the defense business and on the Hill, and all of them say the same thing: There is no $110 billion deal," Reidel writes. "Instead, there are a bunch of letters of interest or intent, but not contracts."

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Reidel explained that none of the offers have been sent to the Senate for review — and all of the deals in question began during President Barack Obama's administration. After reviewing specific examples of non-sales (such as four frigates, the THAAD air defense system and 150 Black Hawk helicopters), Reidel noted that "what the Saudis and the administration did is put together a notional package of the Saudi wish list of possible deals and portray that as a deal."

He added, "Even then the numbers don’t add up. It’s fake news."

Reidel concluded by observing that the drop in oil prices and Saudi Arabia's war with Yemen make it unlikely that Saudi Arabia could afford a $110 billion deal. What's more, he saw that America's last weapons deal to Saudi Arabia only went through after the United States agreed to make sure Israel maintained its qualitative edge over other Arab countries. "You will know the Trump deal is real when Israel begins to ask for a package to keep the Israeli Defense Forces’ qualitative edge preserved," Reidel wrote.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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