Sputnik: Merkel says that the issue of arms sales to Saudi Arabia is in question after the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. What are the odds that Berlin will actually suspend the deals with the kingdom?
Sarah Abed: I think it is very unlikely. I mean there is a difference between trying to save face by mouthing concern and actually suspending deals that would put Germany at a risk of losing millions of euros. And if we were to briefly revisit what's taken place this year we can better understand this. So, back in January, the German government had announced that it would halt all arms exports to countries involved in the ongoing war in Yemen. And this was right after the Saudis had bombed a wedding.
Sputnik: Donald Trump came right out, almost immediately, saying that "We are going to put sanctions, we are going definitely respond if we find out that the journalist was in fact murdered in the consulate and there's no good explanation for this." But right away, he said that "There's no way that we are going to call off our $110 billion arms deal because that would be hurting the US." Is Saudi Arabia in a position that they can basically do anything they want and not have to worry about sanctions that are in any case aimed at the sale of arms because this is just too profitable?
Sarah Abed: Yes, exactly. So, basically saying that they are going to put them on hold and actually terminating existing deals are two very, very different things. So, a few countries including the US, yeah, they're probably going to come out and say they are going to put deals on hold, but that's just to continue the political charade that's going on. The US definitely does not want to lose a $15 billion dollar arms deal to a more cost-effective alternative with a competitor, which they've even mentioned. And Trump even said that it could cost a million American jobs. So, the bottom line is dollars and cents are the leading decision-makers here.
Sputnik: How self-sustaining is Riyadh, really? The clout that they have has to do with money and has to also do with oil, which the US is able to get at very low prices and it just seems that there aren't measures likely to be put in place by the US without fear of losing out on cheap oil or the 600,000 jobs that Donald Trump has been talking about or the $110 billion in arms?
Sarah Abed: The relationship with Riyadh definitely benefits the US. It benefits the US even more than it benefits Riyadh. The US is not going to destroy that relationship. As much as we hear them say 'well, we're going to do this and that', they're not. That's the thing, they're not. If we were going to just look at an example, the fact is, they're saying "Oh yeah, we want a credible investigation to take place." And then Riyadh says, "Okay, this is what happened; we've arrested 18 people that were involved; he was killed, but we've done our due diligence to their satisfaction."
If we were just to remember back to what happened in Syria, the US and the UK had absolutely no problem bombing and illegally attacking Syria based on false allegations before doing any sort of credible investigation, before even waiting for the investigation to take place. So, you could just use that as an example that they don't really care about the investigation, they care about their deals, their arms deals and how much profit they can get from that relationship. They are not going to destroy their relationship over one journalist.
The views and opinions expressed by Sarah Abed do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.