By Mohammad Mazhari

U.S. never tolerates competition in arms sale in West Asia market: military analyst

January 1, 2022 - 16:43

TEHRAN – A senior Lebanese political and military analyst says the U.S. never accepted anybody to challenge it in the arms market in West Asia, especially in Saudi Arabia.

“America does not accept at all any country jostling it in the arms market of West Asia, regardless of the customer or supplier,” Amine Mohammad Hoteit tells the Tehran Times.

Hoteit is of the opinion that if Saudi Arabia establishes arms deals with China, it would be only a political maneuver and the Biden administration would scuttle it.

“But we know that America sees Saudi Arabia as its colony and as a milk cow, and will not accept to share it with other powers, whether China or Russia or any other party, and even sometimes it cannot tolerate a European presence in Saudi Arabia for armaments,” Hoteit argues.

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: How do you evaluate the missile cooperation between Saudi Arabia and China? Do you think that this development will change the balance of power in the region?

A: So far, it has not been proven that there is missile cooperation between Saudi Arabia and China. There is media hype, but none of these reports were confirmed by any side; neither from the Saudi side nor from the Chinese side.

Even what the media circulated did not refer to an official source that could confirm it. Therefore, the issue of Chinese-Saudi cooperation in the production of ballistic missiles remains a matter of hypothetical debate and its validity is not definitively confirmed.

Q: How will Israel react to this kind of cooperation? Do you expect Israel would give in to an Arab state with a deterrent potential, even if it is an ally?

A: In principle, Israel does not accept any of its friends or enemies in the region possess such a force that it sees as a “breaker of balance.”

Within this framework, we can evaluate the possession of advanced aircraft or missiles by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, or other states. Israel believes that it is in its interest to turn a blind eye on some cases in order to ramp up the normalization process as a strategic objective, especially since Mohammed bin Salman pledges to make a lot of concessions when he meets them.

Therefore, in principle, Israel refuses, but tactically and as a political maneuver, Israel can accept the idea of starting a missile project but eventually it will intervene to abort it.

Q: Do you think America will give in to the purchase of arms by the Chinese to Persian Gulf Arab states?

A: America does not accept at all any country jostling it in the arms market of West Asia, regardless of the customer or supplier.

Therefore, I think that if Saudi Arabia enters this path and wants to establish an arms relationship with China, it would be no more than a political maneuver and the Biden administration would put a curb on it.

But we know that America sees Saudi Arabia as its colony and as a milk cow, and will not accept to share it with other powers, whether China or Russia or any other party, and even sometimes it cannot tolerate a European presence in Saudi Arabia for armaments.

Q: Do you think that Saudi Arabia has the necessary infrastructure and capabilities to produce ballistic missiles domestically just like Iran?

A: Saudi Arabia does not have the required or capabilities necessary to produce ballistic missiles, but if we suppose that the cooperation is signed, China will take over the project in its entirety, including the infrastructure.

 The Chinese experts remain the ones who control the project and they advance the project from the initial designing and construction until its final result.

But until the moment, as I mentioned to you, I do not think that the project has taken effect. I doubt that China has already provided Saudi Arabia with the capabilities of building ballistic missiles or America has allowed Saudi Arabia to be engaged in such cooperation with China. Therefore, the issue remains a matter of hypotheses and nothing else.

Q: Do you think that Saudi Arabia is being drawn into producing or possessing nuclear weapons?

A: It is impossible for Israel, America, or Europe to allow Saudi Arabia or any Arab country to possess nuclear weapons.

But this or that country may be tempted by Western powers to start establishing a nuclear program for civilian purposes in order to blackmail them into paying more money. As for entering the nuclear club, this is absolutely forbidden to anyone who is not a European or American or one of the five countries that possess nuclear power.

Therefore I absolutely rule out that Saudi Arabia will be drawn into the production of nuclear weapons, firstly, because it does not possess the necessary capabilities, and secondly, because the international stakeholders will not allow it to do so.

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