According to Ben Moores, senior defense analyst at IHS, Saudi Arabia is expected to boost its buying by 52% in 2015 to a total of $9.8 billion. That is one of every seven dollars spent globally on defense imports. Moores added:
This is definitely unprecedented. You’re seeing political fractures across the region, and at the same time you’ve got oil, which allows countries to arm themselves, protect themselves and impose their will as to how they think the region should develop.
The political fractures he is referring to include primarily the possibility that the United States and Iran could reach an agreement on Iran’s nuclear development program that may signal a (slightly) warmer relationship between the two nations. Saudi Arabia views that as a threat to its relationship with the United States and to its leadership role in the Middle East.
David Cortright of the Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame told i24 News that increased spending on defense by the Saudis may be trying to temper the U.S. “rapprochement” with Iran, “deepening ties in a time of uncertainty, as a possibly greater role with Iran looms on the horizon.”
If the Saudis increase their imports from the United States, the country magically increases its political influence through its relationships with the companies that sell to it. Boeing and Lockheed Martin and other defense companies will not sit still and watch their best customer get short shrift from the government.