While Donald Trump has tried hard to call his first international trip a success, one of the cornerstone pieces of the first leg of the trip is not holding up to scrutiny. There is increased reporting that indicates that the $110 billion arms sale agreement coordinated by Jared Kushner and signed by Trump and the Saudis is not much of an agreement and much of it is recycled from letters of intent and potential agreements the Obama administration hammered out over the past few years.
To be clear, there is a difference between an arms sale agreement (which is binding) and a collection of letters of intent (which is not). The last arms sale agreement the U.S. brokered with the Saudis was in 2012. With the drop in oil prices, the Saudis “have struggled to meet their payments” making it unlikely that they will actually follow through on many of the non-binding letters of intent in the “agreement” Trump touted during his trip, according to Bruce Riedel from the Center for Middle East Policy.
Specifically, the Saudis have expressed interest in purchasing the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Air Defense) system similar to the one recently deployed in South Korea. The THAAD sale was approved by President Obama in 2015 during a summit at Camp David although it may never happen (if the Saudis can’t afford it).
While Donald Trump is quick to blame any failures on the Obama administration (Michael Flynn’s security clearance, for example), his unwillingness to credit the work of the Obama administration is troubling.
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