Saudi Arabia is the fifth largest buyer of Spanish weapons

Spain’s silence before Saudi Arabia’s barbaric regime has a very good reason to be. Spanish companies secured juicy contracts to develop an assortment of construction projects in the Arab nation.

Exports to the Ssaudi Kingdom exceed 2,6 billion euros.

According to data from the Spanish Secretary of State for Trade, Saudi Arabia is the fifth buyer of Spanish military equipment, behind Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Turkey.

With this economic background, it is easy to understand the “coincidence” in that all major Spanish political parties opposed a cut in the supply of war material to Saudi Arabia after the murder of a Washington Post journalist by Saudi operatives was confirmed.

They defended with this decision, according to President Pedro Sánchez, “the strategic interests of Spain.” For the Spanish leader and his political cohorts, money is more important than justice.

The billions spent by Saudi Arabia in gigantic construciton projects or arm purchases also explain that on Thursday the Spanish socialist and popular MEPs refused to support a request to impose an arms embargo on Riyadh.

The overwhelming majority of European Socialists and had done so in the wake of the huge scandal over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of people linked to the Saudi State.

“The economic and commercial axis guides Spanish foreign policy with Saudi Arabia. There is no other vector “, says Rotunda Itxaso Domínguez, Coordinator of Middle East and North Africa at the Alternativas Foundation.

As has been demonstrated this week, Spain lacks strategy, beyond defending its economic interests. It does have it for areas such as the EU, Latin America or North Africa, but not for Saudi Arabia.

This same week, the consortium of Spanish public and private companies that built the AVE between Medina and Mecca formalized in Riyadh the last agreement on this project.

It was a symbolic act of a megaproject of 450 kilometers in length that began to move in a preliminary testing period, but will not do so at full speed until September 2019.

The other great project in Spanish hands is the construction of the three lines of the Riyadh metro. In total, these two contracts add up to  13 billion euros.

Navantia joins these contracts of 1,8 billion euros for five corvettes and 1,5 billion for a company known as Técnicas Reunidas to build the Ras Tanura oil refinery in the east of the country.

The good relationship between the Royal Houses of the two countries has been an important factor.

Without detracting from the knowledge and experience of the winning companies, the fundamental role played by Royal intermediation is undeniable.

In this sense, Felipe VI has limited himself to maintaining the relations that his father, Juan Carlos I, had built with the now deceased King Abdulah.

According to data from the Institute of Foreign Trade, 36 Spanish companies are established in Saudi Arabia.

Among them are major construction companies such as ACS, FCC, OHL and Ferrovial; engineering companies such as Isolux Corsán, Técnicas Reunidas and Duro Felguera; oil companies like Repsol; water service companies such as Aqualia and telecommunications companies like Indra.

The ICEX aims at defense, renewable energies, education, hospital management and infrastructures as the sectors that offer the best commercial perspectives for Spanish companies.

ICEX figures also reflect the traces that cheap oil has left in Saudi consumption in recent years.

Thus, the record of purchases of Spanish products peaked in 2015, when exports exceeded 3 billion. Last year the total was 2,2 billion euros.

Despite the decline, the number of export companies to the Arab country has remained more or less stable around 5,000, with some years slightly above and others below this figure.

Saudi Arabia fell to number 22 in the ranking of destination countries of Spanish exports.

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