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The Middle East has traditionally been important for the world economy. The Middle East situation today has an impact on all aspects of life in America and much of the world.

Only by understanding the motivations of the various factions in the Middle East can we hope to understand how to promote peace and national security for Middle Eastern nations, Europe, and the United States.

Sep 8, 2010

The Merchant of Death

It has been reported recently that the U.S. government has been reevaluating its federal policy restrictions on the sales of its armaments and the transfer of high military technology and parts to potential buyers outside the U.S.

The proposed new rule is to protect American military technology and at the same time to ease the restriction on sales of military armaments that are not highly technical to enable the military manufacturers to expand their sales. These companies have been instruments behind the proposed revision, which had to be approved by the American Congress. The U.S. government has already been ranked as number one in terms of armament sales, followed by Russia, Britain, and France. (aljazeera.net, 8/30/2010)

Furthermore, it has been reported that “advisors to the Pentagon have pointed out that sales of armaments help the U.S. to finance its own weapons programs at a time of severe budgetary constraints. (Middle East, Aug/Sept. 2010)

The Middle East region, in particular the Gulf States, has been among the biggest buyers of armaments for the past few decades because of its financial ability to do the buying as a result of petro dollars. Tens of billions of dollars have been spent on purchasing armaments on the assumption that it will protect them from their “hostile” neighbor Iran. It has been reported recently that the “Gulf arms spending is set to reach $100 billion during the next two to three years.” (The Middle East, Aug/Sept. 2010). Quoting the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), in 2009, Saudi Arabia alone spent almost $40 billion on its military forces. Another $5-$10 billion was spent by Kuwait and $35 billion by UAE, making the total spending money for the three states equal between $90 and $95 billion.

The free spending by the Gulf states on armaments due to the availability of petro dollars is part of a Western strategy to stiffen back some of the petro dollars to the Western economies. There are other more important challenges facing the Arab world in general, such as the high unemployment among the younger generation, which exceeds 20 million. The World Bank issued a report stating that 100 million new jobs need to be created during the next 15 years to avoid an explosion due to unemployment. One of the most dangerous situations to create in any society is to educate the younger generation and fail to create new jobs. The unemployed will be walking ticking bombs. The armaments bought will not provide protection for the rulers in these Arab states. Any changes in the status quo in any state in the Arab world will have an impact on others. Some of the billions of dollars spent on the global armament industries should be allocated to create employment in the Arab world before it is too late. Recently, it was reported that hundreds of Saudi university graduates have been demonstrating, due to their inability to find employment. (almasry-alyoum.net, 8/30/10).
There are more pressing challenges facing the Arab world, such as water scarcity, the shortage of food production, the deteriorated quality of education and many other pressing problems. Investment in armaments return is limited, while investment in the mentioned areas will bring more benefit return and contribute to stability of the Arab world.

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