Benefit – Security Equation in the Persian Gulf

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hossein Alaei
Former Commander of the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy

Germany announced recently that it is ready to sell 200 military tanks to Saudi Arabia. Although the announcement was somehow surprising in view of the current popular uprisings and democratization process in the Arab world, it may be justified in the light of long-term strategies of European states and the United States in the Persian Gulf.

During the past 40 years, the Middle East has turned into a stockpile for various weapons most of which were sold to regional states by western countries. Existence of huge energy resources in the Persian Gulf and recent discovery of vast gas fields, on the one hand, and security of Israel, on the other hand, have been grounds used to justify arms sales.

The Persian Gulf is a critical region in the eyes of the Americans which plays a part in Washington’s national security. European countries are also heavily dependent on energy resources and, thus, the Persian Gulf is a major national security concern for them.

Therefore, western states have been trying to assure energy supply security and steady flow of oil to their countries. As a result, selling arms to oil-rich countries of the Middle East has been a strategic priority for them during the past decades. Under the former Shah, the United States consider Iran its warehouse for advanced weapons as Tehran was supposed to keep the Persian Gulf secure. The United States had established big military bases in Iran. Following collapse of Shah, the United States dispatched its warships to the Persian Gulf while building huge military installations in Saudi Arabia, especially in Dhahran and Tabuk. Selling arms to Arab states started soon after the downfall of Iran’s Shah.

During Iran’s war with Iraq, countries like France provided Saddam Hussein and United Arab Emirates with advanced weapons including Mirage warplanes. When the United States starts providing Arab states with arms, its policy is followed suit by other western states such as Germany and France.

Of course, arms sold to Arab states are chosen carefully so as not to pose any serious threat to Israel. In this way, Israel’s military superiority over Arabs will be maintained.

Selling arms to the rest of the world is a major moneymaker for the United States and other western powers. They are the biggest manufacturers of arms in the world accounting for the lion’s share of the world’s weapons exports.

Poor countries cannot purchase such weapons and only countries with hefty oil revenues are able to buy them.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iraq have been considered by the American and other western statesmen as the best options for selling arms.

After the fall of Iran’s Shah, Saudi Arabia has been a mighty arms market for western states to which they have thus far sold weapons worth tens of billions of dollars. All of them have been stockpiled in Saudi Arabia because Riyadh is firstly a US ally, secondly, it will never be a threat to Israel, and thirdly, it has been never faced with a major threat along borders with other countries. On the other hand, security of the Persian Gulf does not depend on its military power because of the American warships widespread presence throughout the Persian Gulf. The United States has established its Fifth Naval Fleet in Bahrain and chief command of its regional forces in Qatar.

Therefore, in addition to complete occupation of Iraq, Bahrain and Qatar are virtually occupied by the United States. Washington has also established logistical facilities for its warships in the United Arab Emirates and along the Sea of Oman. The United States also runs many military bases in Saudi Arabia while Kuwait provides good support to the US military in Iraq.

Therefore, selling arms will not help security of the Persian Gulf in any way and will only solve financial problems of western arms manufacturers that have been hit hard by the ongoing global financial crisis.

Selling arms to Saudi Arabia, however, pursues four major objectives under present conditions:

1. Making Saudi Arabia more dependent on western states at a time that a popular uprising in the country is quite possible. There have been many instances of such uprising in other Arab countries over the past six months;

2. Absorbing surplus petrodollars that Saudi Arabia earns to reduce the volume of the country’s liquidity and set direction of Saudi Arabia’s oil revenues at a time that the country has increased exports to make up for shortage of Iran’s and Iraq’s oil;

3. To blunt the current economic crisis in western states, that is, the United States and Europe, by capitalizing on Saudi money;

4. Reactivating western weapons manufacturers that have been hit by global economic crisis.

Source: Iranian Diplomacy

Translated By: Iran Review

*Link For Further Reading: Hegemonic Conflict at the Gulf:

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