Spain Halts, Renews Saudi Arms Deal

by Derek Bisaccio, International Military Markets Analyst, Forecast International.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (then the Deputy Crown Prince) in a 2016 meeting in Riyadh with then-U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. Source: U.S. Department of Defense.

Earlier in September, a curious development took place in Spanish-Saudi bilateral relations. On September 4, Spain announced that it had terminated the sale of 400 precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia and would return a $10.6 million payment to the Gulf nation.[i] The announcement won praise from human rights agencies, but prompted head-scratching even within the Spanish government. Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat the day after the report emerged, the Spanish Consul to Saudi Arabia, Pablo Perez, said, “The Spanish embassy was surprised by these claims,” noting that “our ties with Saudi Arabia are fraternal and friendly.”[ii] Around a week later, Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell announced a reversal, saying that the Spanish government “found no reason not to carry” the munition sale out.[iii] Continue reading

After Counterinsurgency Victory, Syria Looks to Rearm

by Derek Bisaccio, International Military Markets Analyst, Forecast International.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, and Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov in November 2017. Source: Russian Presidency website

More than seven years after domestic protests broke out against the Syrian government and President Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian military, with Iranian and Russian backing, has achieved victory over insurgent forces. Pockets of anti-government forces certainly remain, including in the southwest and southeast of Syria, as well as the province of Idlib in the northwest, and a large question mark hangs over the future of the Syrian government’s relations with the U.S.-protected People’s Protection Units (known by the Kurdish acronym YPG) and of portions of rebel territory where Turkey has deployed troops. Nevertheless, the war for the ouster of President Assad is at its conclusion. Continue reading