Procurement: Saudis Attach Strings to Typhoon Sale


December 30, 2005: Saudi Arabia has ordered 48 Eurofighter Typhoon fighters, to replace older Eurofighter Tornado aircraft. There is an option to buy 24 more. With spares, training and other support included, the deal could be worth about $10 billion.

One catch to this sale are the three conditions the Saudis are rumored to have attached to the deal. These include expelling two Saudis (Saad al Faqih and Mohammed al Masari), wanted for terrorist activities back home, but currently enjoying asylum in Britain. The Saudis also want the Brits to quash a corruption investigation involving the Eurofighters manufacturer and members of the Saudi royal family. Lastly, the Saudis want British Airways to resume flights to Saudi Arabia. These had been halted because of fears of terrorist attacks. The airline doesn't want to resume the flights because the number of people willing to fly from Britain to Saudi Arabia has sharply declined in the last two years because of terrorism fears.

Are these demands true? Well, if al Faqih and al Masari are tossed out of Britain, the corruption investigation goes nowhere, then disappears and British Airways resumes even token flights to Saudi Arabia, one could assume they were. Such large arms deals often come with strings attached, and at times the strings are unsightly and embarrassing. As the fictional Don Corleone so insightfully remarked, "it's business."


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