By Jonathan Honigman
Iran and Turkey
Given its ancient history, large population, and leadership amongst the Shiite community that accounts for roughly two-thirds of Gulf-bordering states (including over 10% in Saudi Arabia), Iran sees itself as the area’s rightful leader[i]. While it has pursued nuclear capability and can potentially cutoff the Strait of Hormuz, Iran’s main regional power projection is through its support of fellow Shiites[ii]. After Saddam Hussein served as the principal Arab bulwark against it, Iran has since 2003 steadily consolidated its sway over Shiite-majority Iraq and is developing through it an uninterrupted gateway to the Mediterranean. Iran’s Shiite ally Assad has emerged victorious in Syria and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah outmatches Lebanon’s army and has more political power than ever[iii]. Iranian support for Yemeni Shiites (who make up at least one-third of the population) exacerbates the impoverished country’s civil war and exposes the narrow shipping lanes through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait heading into the Suez Canal[iv]. The Saudis have the world’s third-largest defense budget but have failed to thwart these Iranian inroads made with far less means at their disposal[v].
Iran has strong ties with China, Russia, and India, and Saudi Arabia cannot depend on a concerted Sunni effort against its aggression. Egypt pulled out of the so-called Arab NATO in April, its defense budget no longer ranks even within the global top fifty, and it is preoccupied with feeding, employing, and quenching the thirst of its one hundred million people – a daunting task perhaps obstructed more by domestic Sunni extremism and Ethiopia’s newly-constructed dam on the Nile than it is by Iran[vi]. Energy-starved Turkey relies on imports from Iran, the two conduct twice as much trade as Turkey does with Saudi Arabia, and they are united in subduing Kurdish ambitions[vii]. Though Jordanian King Abdullah is credited with coining the term “Shia Crescent” when warning of Iran as early as 2004, his country’s $40-billion GDP provides limited military capability[viii].
Pakistan is the second-largest Sunni state and a recipient of considerable Saudi aid but its major concern is India[ix]. With Saudi Arabia having seven-times their population and nineteen-times their landmass, the four smaller Gulf States are hesitant to coordinate militarily with it as they fear lurking Saudi domination under the guise of containing Iran[x]. The UAE stands firm against it politically but remains Iran’s second-largest trading partner, tiny Bahrain’s Sunni government supports the Saudis but has its Shiite majority to contend with, and both Oman and Kuwait maintain cordial relations with Iran[xi]. After years of dissension over Al Jazeera, Iran, and the Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar lost its relations with Saudi Arabia in 2017 and renewed them with Iran[xii].
Turkey’s former Ottoman Empire ruled the Middle East for some five hundred years and it today boasts the region’s largest economy, NATO membership, and immense water resources in an otherwise parched territory. As both a greater power and one that controls their water supply, Turkey has increased its leverage over Iraq and Syria – notably in the Kurdish north which resonates strongly in Turkish memory as it was taken from it in 1918 after Turkey had already agreed to the armistice ending World War One[xiii]. Turkey signed a military cooperation agreement with Kuwait in 2018 and not only backed Qatar in its 2017 rift with the Saudis but also recently opened a base there – its first in the Gulf since the fall of the Ottoman Empire[xiv]. Turkey supported Egypt’s anti-Saudi Muslim Brotherhood government (and has poor relations with the current pro-Saudi one), and returned to the Red Sea in 2017 for the first time since World War One by inaugurating its largest overseas base in Somalia and acquiring a century-long lease on Sudan’s Suakin Island which once served as an Ottoman naval base[xv].
Oil and all that goes with it
Slowing demand growth, ample-and-enlarging reserves, and America’s energy revolution are together dictating a prolonged era of barely-breakeven oil prices for the Saudis[xvi]. Even if reached, higher prices typically entail cutting production (decreasing Saudi market-share) and also increase the financial appeal of alternative energy. Noting that passenger vehicles account for over a quarter of global oil demand, Tesla’s Model 3 was the best-selling American sedan last Fall and the majority of Norway’s new-car sales in March were electric[xvii]. Following thirty years of relatively flat consumption and recent technological breakthroughs, the United States has already become the largest oil and natural gas producer, is on track this year to become the largest energy exporter (a position held by Saudi Arabia since the 1950s), and is expected by next year to be a net energy exporter for the first time since 1953[xviii].
As oil accounts for roughly half of Saudi GDP, three-quarters of government revenue, and 80% of exports, it completely underwrites massive state employment and virtually all basic essentials[xix]. Devoid of any rivers or lakes, at least 70% of Saudi Arabia’s water comes from slow-to-replenish (or outright non-renewable) aquifers, its desalination plants are able to provide the majority of drinkable water but alone absorb half the country’s oil needs, the government’s 90% subsidy on desalinated water costs billons and encourages wasteful use that is twice the global average, and despite allocating around 85% of its precious water toward agriculture, it still has to import over 80% of its food[xx]. With the government’s energy subsidies forfeiting an amount equivalent to around a third of its budget, Saudi Arabia burns through all of its extracted natural gas (for which it ranks fifth in reserves but does not export) and one-third of its oil – making it the fifth-largest oil consumer in the world even though it ranks forty-seventh in population and roughly eighteenth in GDP[xxi].
Although Saudi education spending has surpassed other developed economies overall for nearly thirty years (and is roughly a quarter of government expenditures), unemployment sits at 33% for women and 42% for the youth[xxii]. Considering that two-thirds of Saudis that do work are employed by the state (which devours 45% of government outlays), the country’s labor force has not been molded and disciplined by the market and instead relies on foreigners who make up one-third of the population and 80% of the private-sector workforce[xxiii]. As Saudi per-capita income ranks fortieth in the world and has declined some 40% in inflation-adjusted terms since the 1970s, average citizens are hardly rich enough to ensure calm, and unlike during the 2011 Arab Spring when the government was able to throw $130 billion at possible unrest, its annual deficits since 2014 will allow far less financial leeway[xxiv].
The crisis need not be overstated as oil will remain vital to the global economy and Saudi Arabia has the largest cheaply-available supply[xxv]. Nevertheless, it is clear that with Saudi diplomatic power contingent upon its position in the oil market, and its citizens’ obedience preserved only by the ensuing wealth derived, as it adopts a more modest oil role and its many problems continue to test its people’s subservience, Saudi Arabia must exploit every available opportunity to advance its foreign policy and sustain internal cohesion.
The Anti-Israel Mantle: From Diminishing Returns to Counterproductive
The interests of Saudi Arabia and Israel have been converging for decades. Saudi Arabia had no relations with the Soviet Union throughout the entirety of the Cold War, and with two-thirds of Soviet military aid to the Developing World between 1956 and 1978 going to Arabs, it heavily armed Saudi adversaries like Egypt, Syria, and Iraq[xxvi]. Between 1956 and 1982, Israel served as the Cold War’s primary battlefield laboratory in which it showcased Western weapons and undermined Soviet-built ones – both through outright destruction (including over one thousand aircraft, two thousand tanks, and dozens of surface-to-air missiles) and capturing fully-intact equipment for analysis (including hundreds of tanks, several surface-to-air missiles, and even a few jets and a radar station)[xxvii]. Israel’s excellence with Western weapons directly weakened Saudi Arabia’s Soviet-armed rivals and bolstered Saudi deterrent power as its armed forces have been based entirely off Western imports (62% from the United States and 97% from NATO) – particularly in the case of the American F-15 fighter jet which has been the backbone of the Saudi air force since the early 1980s, and with which Israel alone accounts for over half of the jet’s flawless 104:0 air-to-air kill ratio[xxviii].
Israel’s repeated victories over Egypt neutralized it as a threat against Saudi Arabia – with whom it had clashed over Pan-Arabism, the Suez Canal, and Yemen (where one-third of Egypt’s army had been stationed since 1963 but was abruptly recalled following its 1967 defeat)[xxix]. Israel’s 1981 raid on Iraq’s nuclear reactor – along with its 2007 raid on Syria’s – safeguarded Saudi Arabia both from a nuclear-armed Saddam in the 1990 Gulf War and from the Shiite regime in Damascus (along with the Islamic State when it conquered the area) obtaining nuclear material[xxx].
The global Islamic community would be the key obstacle to Saudi recognition of Israel but much of its impoverished masses rely on Saudi money, 40% of Muslims already live in countries that have relations with Israel (fifteen of which are Muslim-majority), and Israel has warming ties with several other Gulf states[xxxi]. Moreover, as displayed by Nasser’s Egypt, Khomeini’s Iran, and Saddam’s Iraq which all had excellent anti-Israel credentials while simultaneously menacing the Saudis, shunning Israel does not guarantee immunity from other Muslims and the fixating hatred of Israel within the Islamic World offers quick and cheap legitimacy to some of its most destabilizing elements[xxxii]. While respecting its special status as the birthplace of Islam and beholder of its two holiest sites, like any other state, Saudi Arabia must still think first and foremost of itself.
Whatever Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, or Algeria have to gain or lose in foregoing Israeli relations is not that of Saudi Arabia and it would not be the first Muslim country to reach that conclusion. Sandwiched between the Soviet Union (whose Russian forebearers it had fought for centuries) and the Arab World (who it had ruled for centuries), Turkey believed Israel was a check against both and so established relations in 1949, and President Erdogan’s incessant criticism aside, the two have a robust trade relationship[xxxiii]. Iran may proudly champion its leading role against it today but allied with Israel for a quarter-century under the Shah to secure its predominance in the Gulf which included multi-billion-dollar joint military programs and supplying over 90% of Israel’s imported oil[xxxiv]. Having been burdened by thirty years of war that battered its economy and inflicted more casualties on it than anyone else fighting Israel (not to mention the rest of the vast Muslim World who never faced it in battle), and being fully aware of what a peaceful border with Egypt would mean to the tangibility of its Muslim neighbors ever defeating the Israelis, Egypt recognized Israel in 1979 and has enjoyed peace and Western aid ever since[xxxv].
For over a half-century, Israel has been America’s principal military ally in the Middle East. Its extensive destruction and capture of Soviet-built weapons provided priceless lessons – including those learned from the introduction of cutting-edge American aircraft such as AWACS and both the F-15 and F-16 fighter jets to real combat[xxxvi]. After stationing over one-fifth of their service personnel abroad between 1950 and 2014, and pleading with wealthy NATO allies for whom they are treaty-bound to protect to allocate a meager 2% of their GDPs for defense, Americans very much appreciate that their soldiers have never been endangered on Israel’s behalf (outnumbered though it is) and that it commits 4.3% of its GDP to defense – which is the highest rate in the Western World and affords it the globe’s seventeenth-largest military budget[xxxvii]. In light of the many significant friends America has lost overnight in the Middle East and North Africa – including Iraq in 1958 (where the regional pro-Western Baghdad Pact was headquartered), Libya in 1969 (where America’s only African air force base was located), and Iran in 1979 (then America’s largest arms purchaser), Israel further serves as an important hedge against the area’s wild volatility[xxxviii].
Though Saudi Arabia has been a strategically-crucial American ally ever since its oil was discovered, with no US bases there, polar-opposite domestic values, and America approaching energy independence, its importance today centers essentially around buying weapons[xxxix]. But even there, it has accounted for less than 10% of foreign sales since 1988 and American arms manufacturer’s most important client is of course America’s Department of Defense which has an annual procurement budget of over $140 billion[xl]. America’s paramount Gulf alliance is actually with the smaller Gulf states whose vulnerability makes them more dependable, and who together import twice as much American goods as the Saudis (including roughly as many weapons) and house several critical American bases including the Navy’s fifth fleet headquarters in Bahrain and Central Command’s headquarters in Qatar[xli]. Americans have grown quite tired of military intervention and as every year that a Saudi-Israel engagement does not occur represents yet another in which two powerful United States’ partners in a tumultuous region are not coordinating their efforts to help prevent the need for such intervention, Saudi Arabia must thoroughly consider America’s lingering resentment for such a needlessly-disruptive scenario.
Iran is the chief adversary of both Israel and Saudi Arabia and with Israel’s armament surpassing the Iranians in both quantity and quality, it is the only other regional state willing and able to effectively oppose Iran[xlii]. With its defense requirements, shortages of natural water and independently-produced food, and complete economic dependence on oil, Saudi Arabia has much to gain from an Israel which is the eighth-largest arms exporter (including first with drones and second with cybersecurity), leads the world in water technology and desert agriculture (it produces ninety-five percent of its food), and has built a high-tech economy with a per-capita income on par with Japan and Western Europe without any energy resources (its natural gas was only recently discovered)[xliii]. Israel already has relations with 160 states that encompass eighty-four percent of the world’s population and ninety-four percent of global GDP, and any diplomatic resistance the Saudis receive for approaching the Israelis will be more than made up for by the subsequent expanded pressure on Iran and strengthened Saudi relations with the US[xliv]. The time is indeed long overdue for Saudi Arabia to engage Israel in order to confront shared opponents and protect mutual interests.
[i] “Mapping the Global Muslim Population”, PEW Research Center, October 2009 – The total Shia population of the Gulf-bordering states (Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, and Qatar) was listed as 88.3-97.7 million, and extrapolating a 2009 total population (only percentages were listed) of around 140 million gives a range of 63%-70% and so two-thirds would seem like a fair estimate. See also Majidyar, Ahmad K. “Saudi Arabia’s forgotten Shi’ite Spring”, American Enterprise Institute, August 17, 2013 – Saudi Arabia is 10-15% Shiite, and over one-fifth of the world’s oil reserves are in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province which is a majority Shiite. See also Walker, Martin “The Revenge of the Shia”, The Wilson Quarterly, Wilson Center, Autumn 2006, pp. 16-20 – Shiites make up 35% of Kuwait and 15-20% of Qatar.
[ii] “Three important oil trade chokepoints are located around the Arabian Peninsula”, U.S. Energy Information Administration, August 4, 2017 – Over 60% of globally exported oil moved on maritime routes in 2015 and the most important oil shipping chokepoint is of course the Strait of Hormuz (twenty-one miles wide at its narrowest point) which connects the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea and accounts for 30% of all seaborne-traded crude oil and other liquids. See also “World Oil Transit Chokepoints”, U.S. Energy Information Administration, July 25, 2017 – In 2015, seventeen million bpd of crude oil passed through the Strait of Hormuz out of a world maritime oil trade of 58.9 million bpd (28.86%) and a world total oil supply of 96.7 million bpd (17.58%). See also El Gamal, Rania “Factbox: Risks to Middle East oil and gas shipping routes”, Reuters, July 26, 2018 – Most of the oil exported from Saudi Arabia, Iran, the UAE, Iraq, and Kuwait must go through the Strait of Hormuz – 85% of which goes to Asia.
[iii] Katz, Brian “Will Hezbollah’s Rise Be Its Downfall?”, Foreign Affairs, March 8, 2019 – Hezbollah has more military and political power today than any point since its 1985 founding – including its 20,000-30,000 fighters being unmatched militarily by the Lebanese Armed Forces. See also Mroue, Bassem “Pompeo heads to Lebanon, where Hezbollah is at peak strength”, Washington Post, March 21, 2019 – As of 2019, Hezbollah wields more power than ever in Lebanon’s cabinet and parliament, and its military power dwarfs that of the Lebanese armed forces.
[iv] “Saudi Arabia resumes oil shipments through Red Sea”, Associated Press, August 4, 2018 – Saudi Arabia suspended oil shipments through the twenty-mile-wide Bab al-Mandeb Strait for over a week in late-July 2018 after they were attacked by Houthi rebels. See also El Gamal, Rania “Factbox: Risks to Middle East oil and gas shipping routes”, Reuters, July 26, 2018 – In late July 2018, Saudi Arabia suspended oil shipments through the Red Sea after Houthis attacked tow crude tankers. See also “Three important oil trade chokepoints are located around the Arabian Peninsula”, U.S. Energy Information Administration, August 4, 2017 – Failing to traverse the Suez Canal would add 2,400 miles to the journey of a Saudi shipment going to the US around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope – While some pipelines bypass the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, the vast majority of exports from the Persian Gulf that transit the Suez Canal also pass through the 18-mile-wide Bab el-Mandeb Strait. See also “World Oil Transit Chokepoints”, U.S. Energy Information Administration, July 25, 2017 – In 2016, total petroleum and LNG shipments through the Suez Canal accounted for 23% (17% and 6% respectively) of its shipping tonnage – For Persian Gulf countries, having to go around Africa would add fifteen days to shipments to Europe and 8-10 days to shipments to the US – In 2015, 4.7 million bpd traversed the Bab el-Mandeb Strait (7.98% of all maritime oil traded and 4.86% of global oil supply). See also Lee, Julian “Bab el-Mandeb, an Emerging Chokepoint for Middle East Oil Flows”, Bloomberg, July 26, 2018 – Saudi Arabia sent 600,000 bpd through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait in 2018 – If denied access to the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a Saudi voyage from the Persian Gulf to Houston would be 2,660 nautical miles longer (28%), while the distance to Rotterdam would increase by 4,800 nautical miles (78%). See also “Mapping the Global Muslim Population”, PEW Research Center, October 2009 – The Shiite population in Yemen is around 35-40%.
[v] “Gulf States fear being encircled by Iran and abandoned by America”, The Economist, June 21, 2018 – Saudi Arabia became the third-largest military spender in 2017. See also Wezeman, Pieter D “Saudi Arabia, armaments and conflict in the Middle East”, SIPRI, December 14, 2018 – Saudi Arabia’s defense budget peaked at a massive $90.3 billion in 2015 but was back down to a still large $69.4 billion in 2017. See also Saab, Bilal Y. “Beyond the Proxy Powder Keg: The Specter of War Between Saudi Arabia and Iran”, Middle East Institute, Policy Paper 2, May 2018 – Saudi Arabia’s 2018 defense budget was $56 billion while Iran’s was $17.4 billion.
[vi] Kalin, Stephen and Landay, Jonathan “Exclusive: Egypt withdraws from U.S.-led anti-Iran security initiative – sources”, Reuters, April 10, 2019 – Egypt has pulled out of the U.S. effort to forge an “Arab NATO” with key Arab allies which include Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Jordan.
“Military expenditure by country, in millions of US$ at current prices and exchange rates, 1949-2018”, SIPRI, 2019 – Once the most militarily-powerful Arab state, Egypt’s $3.1 billion defense budget in 2018 did not even make it into the top fifty globally. See also Katzman, Kenneth “Iran’s Foreign and Defense Policies”, Congressional Research Service, October 9, 2018 – Though relations between Egypt and Iran were cutoff in 1979, Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi visited Iran in August 2012.
[vii] Sezer, Can “Despite rhetoric, Turkey complies with U.S. oil sanctions on Iran”, Reuters, May 21, 2019 – While prior to May 2018 Turkey’s Iranian oil imports represented some 47% of its total, with reimposed American sanctions, it dropped to 15% by February 2019 and in late-May 2019, its ports were closed to Iranian oil. See also Bakeer, Ali “Turkey’s Worries over Iran Sanctions”, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, June 20, 2018 – Iran and Turkey’s trade volume peaked at $22 billion in 2012 before falling to $14 billion in 2014, $9.6 billion in 2016, and recovering slightly to $10.7 billion in 2017 – Turkey imports 92% of its oil and 99% of its gas, and since 2017 (after surpassing Iraq) Iran has been its main energy supplier (providing 44% of Turkey’s imported oil and 17% of its imported gas). See also “World Integrated Trade Solution – Turkey”, World Bank – In 2016, Turkey had $9.67 billion in bilateral trade with Iran ($4.97 billion exported and $4.7 billion imported) and $5 billion with Saudi Arabia ($3.17 billion exported and $1.84 billion imported). See also Katzman, Kenneth “Iran’s Foreign and Defense Policies”, Congressional Research Service, October 9, 2018 – Iran supplies half of Turkey’s oil. See also England, Andrew; Manson, Katrina; and Pitel, Laura “US and Turkey seek to avoid rupture with Saudi Arabia”, Financial Times, October 17, 2018 – 2017 Turkey-Saudi bilateral trade stood at $4.8 billion. See also Jones, Dorian “Turkey, Iran Join Forces Against Kurdish Rebels”, Voice of America, March 20, 2019 – Even though it was a nine-year low, 2018 turkey-Iran bilateral trade stood at $9.3 billion.
[viii] “The Shia crescendo: Iran and Shia militias”, The Economist, March 28, 2015 – Little more than a decade ago King Abdullah II of Jordan sounded a warning that America’s toppling of Saddam Hussein in Iraq would lead to the emergence of an Iranian-influenced “Shia crescent”—code for Iranian expansion—from Lebanon to Saudi Arabia. See also “Military expenditure by country, in millions of US$ at current prices and exchange rates, 1949-2018”, SIPRI, 2019 – Jordan’s $1.97 billion defense allocation in 2018 ranked around sixtieth in the world. See also Levin, Daniel “Overfunded and Under Governed: Why Jordan’s Economy Is Struggling”, The National Interest, September 17, 2018 – Jordan has a national debt of nearly $40 billion which is roughly 95% of its GDP.
[ix] Katzman, Kenneth “Iran’s Foreign and Defense Policies”, Congressional Research Service, October 9, 2018 – Pakistan supported Iran in its 1980s war with Iraq and the founder of its nuclear weapons program (A.Q. Khan) sold Iran nuclear technology. See also Turak, Natasha “A gold-plated submachine gun and $20 billion: How Pakistan could get sucked into the Saudi-Iran rivalry”, CNBC, March 6, 2019 – Saudi Arabia provided Pakistan with oil and money when it faced sanctions in the 1990s for its nuclear program, and the Saudis recently announced $20 billion in infrastructure and energy investments in Pakistan in March 2019 – Pakistan does not see Iran as a major threat and fears upsetting its own 20% Shia minority needlessly – In 2015, the government in Islamabad passed a resolution ruling out sending troops to join the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, despite pressure from Riyadh.
[x] See also “Surface area (sq. km) – Country Ranking – Middle East”, Index Mundi – Geographical territory is broken down to 2,149,690 square km for Saudi Arabia, 771 square km for Bahrain, 11,610 square km for Qatar, 17,820 square km for Kuwait, and 83,600 square km for the UAE – population comparison includes only citizens. See also “Saudi Arabia Fast Facts”, CNN, October 29, 2018 – As of 2018, Saudi Arabia’s citizen population was around 21 million and its landmass was 2,149,690 square kilometers. See also “Gulf ambassadors pulled from Qatar over ‘interference’”, BBC, March 5, 2014 – While Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have been calling for increased military and diplomatic union within the GCC, Qatar has so far resisted increased integration in these fields. See also Hammond, Andrew “Analysis: Saudi Gulf union plan stumbles as wary leaders seek detail”, Reuters, May 17, 2012 – Saudi Arabia pushed for a more aggressive Gulf Union in 2012 but was greeted with mostly pushback from other GCC members (notable exception was Bahrain but it is by far the smallest of the states and had only recently been saved by Saudi troops entering to help contain protests) as they did not want to lose their sovereignty in a union which would be dominated by the more powerful Saudis – The UAE even withdrew from a monetary union with the Saudis in 2009 over Saudi insistence that the central bank be hosted in Riyadh – Oman stated as early as 2006 that it would not even join a theoretical single currency project with the Saudis. See also Al-Zayyat, Yasser “Saudi Efforts Toward a Gulf Arab Union”, Stratfor, December 11, 2013 – In response to the then approaching U.S.-Iranian rapprochement, Saudi Arabia worked in 2013 to transform the Gulf Cooperation Council into a much more robust supranational entity in order to counter the threat from Iran but most of the smaller member states (while agreeing with the Saudis on the need for a joint defense against Iran) did not want to align with the kingdom at the expense of their own national sovereignty.
[xi] Lemon, Jason “Which Countries Do Business With Iran? Donald Trump Threatens Nations With Economic Ties to Tehran”, Newsweek, August 7, 2018 – At 16.8%, the UAE is Iran’s second-largest trading partner. See also Vakil, Sanam “Iran and the GCC: Hedging, Pragmatism, and Opportunism”, Chatham House, September 2018 – Iran is the principal re-export market for the UAE, particularly when sanctions are in place. See also “World Integrated Trade Solution – United Arab Emirates”, World Bank – In 2016, Iran was the UAE’s second-largest export market at $8.8 billion. See also Barbuscia, Davide “Bahrain says new discovery contains an estimated 80 billion barrels of tight oil”, Reuters, April 4, 2018 – In 2017, Bahrain’s government earned just $4.3 billion in oil and gas revenue and ran a budget deficit of $2.7 billion.
[xii] Worth, Robert F. “Al Jazeera No Longer Nips at Saudis”, New York Times, January 4, 2008 – The Qataris accused the Saudis of backing a failed coup attempt in Qatar in the mid-1990s. See also “Why Gulf countries are feuding with Qatar”, The Economist, June 21, 2018 – Qatar’s 1996 attempted counter-coup was suspected to be supported by the Saudis and Emiratis. Gambrell (AP), Jon “Natural gas built Qatar, now may protect it in Gulf dispute”, Chicago Tribune, June 12, 2017 – Qatar shares the largest natural gas field in the world with Iran. See also Hammond, Andrew “Saudi ambassador returns to Qatar after 5-yr gap”, Reuters, March 9, 2008 – The Saudis pulled their ambassador from Qatar between 2002 and 2008 over an anti-Saudi segment on Al Jazeera which is based in Doha and is the largest news outlet in the region. See also “Gulf ambassadors pulled from Qatar over ‘interference’”, BBC, March 5, 2014 – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar after alleging that it has been meddling in their internal affairs. See also Barzoukas, Georgios “Paper beats rock: GCC geo-economics”, European Union Institute for Security Studies, September 2018 – Qatari aid to Egypt in 2012 and 2013 under the anti-Saudi Muslim Brotherhood stood at $7 billion. See also See also Cullinane, Susannah; Qiblawi, Tamara; and Tawfeeq, Mohammed “Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Egypt cut off relations with Qatar”, CNN, June 5, 2017 – Egypt and Yemen cut ties as well. See also Obaid, Nawaf “Trump Will Regret Changing His Mind About Qatar”, Foreign Policy, August 15, 2018 – Qatar sent billions in aid and free natural gas to Egypt when the Muslim Brotherhood was in power. See also Hoge, Warren “U.N. Gives Iran Deadline to End Nuclear Work”, New York Times, August 1, 2006 – When the United Nations Security Council voted on July 31, 2006 to demand that Iran halt uranium enrichment, Qatar cast the sole dissenting vote. See also Walsh, Declan “Qatar Restores Full Relations With Iran, Deepening Gulf Feud”, New York Times, August 24, 2017.
[xiii] Elver, Hilal “Turkey’s Rivers of Dispute”, Middle East Research and Information Project, Spring 2010 – The Tigris and Euphrates rivers originate in Turkey and Turkish springs, runoff, and tributaries contribute roughly 89% of the Euphrates annual flow and 52% of the Tigris. See also Wilson, Ryan “Water-Shortage Crisis Escalating in the Tigris-Euphrates Basin”, Future Directions International, August 28, 2012 – Turkey’s 1990 cutoff the Euphrates to fill the Atatürk Dam temporarily reduced water flow into Syria and Iraq by 75 per cent, and following Iraq’s threat to blow up the dam, Turkey threatened to completely cut off the water flow to Syria and Iraq. See also “Thirsting for war”, BBC, October 5, 2000 – Turkey has spent over $30 billion developing its Southeast Anatolia Project, a series of dams and hydroelectric power stations built on both the Tigris and Euphrates rivers -Turkey completely cut off the Euphrates for three weeks in January 1990 to fill the Ataturk Dam’s reservoir – At the opening ceremony for the Ataturk Dam on July 25, 1992, Turkish President Suleyman Demirel stated that “Neither Syria nor Iraq can lay claim to Turkey’s rivers any more than Ankara could claim their oil… We don’t say we share their oil resources, and they can’t say they share our water resources.” See also Jongerden, Joost “Dams and Politics in Turkey: Utilizing Water, Developing Conflict”, Middle East Policy Council, Volume XVII, Number 1, Spring 2010 – Turkey’s massive southeastern system will eventually contain twenty-two dams, nineteen power plants, hundreds of kilometers of irrigation canals, and will stretch over a surface area of more than 75,000 square kilometers – nearly 10% of Turkey’s total surface area. See also “Another Threat: Iraq’s Water”, The Economist, August 11, 2014 – The Tigris and Euphrates rivers account for 98% of Iraq’s surface water. See also Cane, Mark A., Kelley, Colin P., Kushnir, Yochanan, Mohtadi, Shahrzad, and Seager, Richard “Climate change in the Fertile Crescent and implications of the recent Syrian drought”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America”, Vol. 112, No. 11, March 17, 2015 – In 2011, as compared to its internal renewable water resources, Syria’s total annual water withdrawal was 160%, Iraq’s was 80%, and Turkey’s was only roughly 20%. See also Danforth, Nick “Turkey’s New Maps Are Reclaiming the Ottoman Empire”, Foreign Policy, October 23, 2016 – Mosul, along with other cities in Iraq and Syria, have special significance to Turkey as they were lost after it had already signed the October 1918 armistice agreement with Allied powers in World War One (Turkey’s Hatay province was taken back from Syria in 1938). See also Thornton, Rod “Erdogan and the National Pact: the fallout today from the British Army’s seizing of Mosul in 1918”, Defence Studies Department, King’s College London, January 4, 2017 – Like Mosul, Alexandretta was taken from the Turks after the signing of the Mudros agreement. See also Danforth, Nick “A Short History of Turkish Threats to Invade Syria”, Foreign Policy, July 31, 2015 – In 1938, France ceded the Alexandretta Strip in northwest Syria to Turkey as the price for a nonaggression pact with Ankara in the upcoming Second World War.
[xiv] “Turkey, Kuwait sign 2019 military cooperation agreement”, Press TV, October 11, 2018 – On October 10, 2018, Kuwait and Turkey signed a joint defense plan for 2019. See also Finn, Tom “Turkey to set up Qatar military base to face ‘common enemies’”, Reuters, December 16, 2015 – As part of an agreement signed in 2014, in December 2015, Turkey announced that it would established a militarya military base in Qatar – its first overseas military installation in the Middle East. See also Khianey, Navin “UAE: The Arab world will not be led by Iran and Turkey”, The National, December 27, 2017 – Just weeks after the June 5, 2017 Qatar crisis, Turkey deployed troops to Qatar in the first permanent Turkish base in the Gulf since the fall of the Ottoman Empire. See also Vakil, Sanam “Iran and the GCC: Hedging, Pragmatism, and Opportunism”, Chatham House, September 2018 – Qatar and Turkey share a regional vision of supporting indigenous Islamic parties like the Muslim Brotherhood and following the June 2017 crisis, Turkey built a military base in Qatar and deployed troops there.
[xv] “Turkey’s Erdogan: ‘Morsi is Egypt’s president, not Sisi’”, Newsweek, May 22, 2015 – Turkish president Recep Erdogan announced in May 2015 (nearly two years after the 2013 Egyptian coup) that he still viewed deposed leader Mohamed Morsi as the Egyptian president rather than Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. See also Amin, Mohammed “Suakin: ‘Forgotten’ Sudanese island becomes focus for Red Sea rivalries”, Middle East Eye, March 18, 2018 – In December 2017, Turkey signed a 99-year lease to redevelop an Ottoman-era port on Suakin island along the Sudanese coast – ostensibly for Hajj tourism though it was used in Ottoman times as a naval base. See also Gurbuz, Mustafa “Turkey’s Challenge to Arab Interests in the Horn of Africa”, Washington DC Arab Center, February 22, 2018 – In September 2017, Turkey launched its largest overseas military base in Mogadishu, Somalia. See also Kenyon, Peter “Turkey is Quietly Building its Presence in Africa”, National Public Radio, March 8, 2018 – In the Fall of 2017, Turkey opened up a military base in Somalia – its first in Africa and largest overseas base.
[xvi] Egan, Matt “‘No peak’ in oil demand yet, despite electric cars, IEA says”, CNN, March 11, 2019 – The world’s appetite for oil is still growing (and will not plateau until at least 2024 according to the International Energy Agency) but at a slower pace. See also Rapier, Robert “Saudi Oil Reserves Growth Has Lagged the Rest Of the World”, Forbes, February 22, 2019 – Global oil reserves, largely due to heavy oil and oil sands, increased 134% between 1982 and 2019. See also Rapier, Robert “The Explosive Growth of U.S. Oil Reserves”, Forbes, May 23, 2016 – Global oil reserves went from 683 billion barrels in 1980 (thirty-years-worth at 1980 production levels) to 1.7 trillion barrels at the end of 2014 (after having produced more oil in the in-between time than the total 1980 total reserves). See also Rapier, Robert “The Explosive Growth of U.S. Oil Reserves”, Forbes, May 23, 2016 – American oil reserves grew 71% from 28 billion barrels in 2008 to 48 billion barrels in 2014. See also “Why Gulf economies struggle to wean themselves off oil”, The Economist, June 21, 2018 – The IMF estimated Saudi Arabia’s 2018 breakeven point to be around $87/barrel. See also Aggarwal, Vinod K. “The Political Economy of Falling Oil Prices: Implications for Arab Gulf States and the U.S.”, The Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, December 12, 2014 – In 2014, Saudi Arabia required an oil price of $93 per barrel in order to balance its budget. See also Barbuscia, Davide “Saudi Arabia needs oil at $85-$87 a barrel to balance budget: IMF official”, Reuters, May 2, 2018 – According to the IMF, Saudi Arabia’s breakeven oil price was $83 in 2017 and $85-$87 in 2018. See also Barbuscia, Davide “Saudi Arabia would need oil at $80-$85 a barrel to balance budget: IMF official”, Reuters, February 11, 2019 – According to the IMF, in order for Saudi Arabia to balance its budget in 2019, oil would need to be priced at $80-$85 per barrel.
[xvii] Kah, Marianne “Electric Vehicles and their Impact on Oil Demand: Why Forecasts Differ”, Columbia Center on Global Energy Policy, July 2018 – In 2016, 27% of global oil demand went towards passenger vehicles. See also Coppola, Gabrielle and Randall, Tom “Tesla’s Model 3 Is Becoming One of America’s Best-Selling Sedans”, Bloomberg, October 3, 2018 – For the three months that ended in September 2018, Tesla delivered more Model 3s than all but four of the top sedans sold in the U.S., regardless of size or price – outselling all but a handful of Toyotas and Hondas. See also Karagiannopoulos, Lefteris and Solsvik, Terje “Tesla boom lifts Norway’s electric car sales to record market share”, Reuters, April 1, 2019 – 58.4% of all new cars sold in Norway (Western Europe’s largest producer of oil and gas) in March 2019 were fully electric.
[xviii] Kohl, Keith “The Hidden Oil Gem for U.S. Oil Exports”, Energy & Capital, August 28, 2018 – American oil consumption has been relatively flat for the last thirty years and is projected to decline over the next few decades. See also Harbert, Karen Alderman “America’s Energy Renaissance”, Ripon Forum, Volume 52, Number 3, July 2018, pp. 10-11 – After a decade of applying hydraulic fracturing, horizontal drilling, and other new technologies, American energy production grew 60% between 2008 and 2018, and by 2018, the US was the world’s top producer of both oil and natural gas. See also “Why Gulf economies struggle to wean themselves off oil”, The Economist, June 21, 2018 – By 2018, The US was the world’s largest oil producer. See also Rapier, Robert “No, The U.S. Is Not A Net Exporter of Crude Oil”, Forbes, December 9, 2018 – The US became a net-exporter of finished petroleum products in 2011. See also Workman, Daniel “Refined Oil Exports by Country”, World’s Top Exports, December 30, 2018 – By 2017, the US already led the world by far in refined oil exports (its $77.8 billion was on par with the entire GCC combined at $78.4 billion). See also Egan, Matt “America is set to surpass Saudi Arabia in a ‘remarkable’ oil milestone”, CNN Business, March 8, 2019 – With American oil production doubling between 2008 and 2018, the US is expected by the end of 2019 to become the largest energy exporter (replacing Saudi Arabia for the first time since the 1950s), and by 2020 will for the first time since 1953 become a net energy exporter. See also DiChristopher, Tom “US to become a net energy exporter in 2020 for first time in nearly 70 years, Energy Dept says”, CNBC, January 24, 2019 – The US became a net exporter of natural gas in 2017, and for the first time since 1953, the US will by next year in 2020 become a net energy exporter. See also Rapier, Robert “Why The U.S. Exports Oil”, Forbes, September 30, 2017 – The US has been a net importer of crude oil and petroleum products since 1949. See also Sanchez, Bill “U.S. net energy imports in 2017 fall to their lowest levels since 1982”, U.S. Energy Information Administration, March 28, 2018 – American net energy imports peaked in 2007.
[xix] “Saudi Arabia Fast Facts”, CNN, October 29, 2018 – The oil industry makes up almost half of Saudi Arabia’s GDP. See also “Economic Diversification in Oil-Exporting Arab Countries”, International Monetary Fund, April 2016 – In 2014, oil was 42.6% of Saudi GDP, 76.8% of government revenue, and 80.2% of exports. See also Barzoukas, Georgios “Paper beats rock: GCC geo-economics”, European Union Institute for Security Studies, September 2018 – In 2016, fuel was 79% of Saudi merchandize exports. See also “Saudi Arabia unveils first public sector pay cuts”, BBC, September 27, 2016 – Oil accounts for 72% of revenues in Saudi Arabia. See also Mann, Yossi “Can Saudi Arabia Feed Its People?”, The Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2015 – Between the early 1980s and 2016, the Saudis spent $5 billion a year subsidizing domestic wheat production. See also Aldosri, Fahad Owis; Fiaz, Sajid; and Noor, Mehmood Ali “Achieving food security in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia through innovation: Potential role of agricultural extension”, Journal of the Saudi Society of Agricultural Sciences, Volume 17, Issue 4, October 2018, pp. 365-375 – Between 1984 and 2001 alone, Saudi spent roughly $5 billion per year subsidizing domestically grown wheat. See also “If Not Now, When? Energy Price Reform in Arab Countries”, International Monetary Fund Annual Meeting of Arab Ministers of Finance, Rabat, Morocco, April 2017 – In 2016, fully 4.1% of Saudi GDP (down from 8% in 2013) went toward subsidizing the price of petroleum. See also Al-Khatteeb, Luay “Saudi Arabia’s economic time bomb”, Brookings, December 30, 2015 – In 2015, the Saudi government spent nearly $10 billion on subsidies for electricity and water.
[xx] “Countries With No Rivers”, Brilliant Maps, October 8, 2016 – Outside of tiny oceanic island-states and Vatican City and Monaco, Saudi Arabia and the rest of the seven Gulf Cooperation Council states are the only countries in the world without a river. See also “What’s missing? The countries with no airports, railways, trees and World Heritage Sites”, The Telegraph, September 26, 2017 – Saudi Arabia and Bahrain do not have any rivers. See also Sheffield, Hazel “Saudi Arabia is running out of water”, The Independent, February 19, 2016 – As Saudi Arabia is devoid of any rivers or lakes, 98% of its natural water sources are groundwater (of course not counting artificial sources like desalinated water) and Saudi per capita Saudi water consumption is reported to be double the EU average. See also Lewis, Barbara and Shamseddine, Reem “Saudi Arabia’s water needs eating into oil wealth”, Reuters, September 7, 2011 – Saudi Arabia’s water use is almost double the global average, Saudi Arabian agriculture absorbed 85-90% of Saudi Arabia’s water supplies in 2011, and as 80-85% of that usage came from underground aquifers, it can be inferred that the range of overall Saudi water coming from aquifers was between 68% and 76.5%. See also Schlanger, Zoe “70% of Saudi Arabia’s electricity is used for air conditioning”, Quartz, May 22, 2018 – Roughly 60% of the water Saudis use in their homes comes from desalination – About 20% of Saudi Arabia’s electricity is used to desalinate sea water. See also Harrington, Kent “Saudi Arabia Creates New Solar-Powered Desalination Technology”, ChEnected, October 16, 2015 – In 2015, 1.5 million out of the 2.8 million bpd that Saudis consumed went towards desalination. See also “ISU history professor examines environmental cost of tapping alternate sources for water, oil”, Iowa State University News Service, October 28, 2015 – 15% of Saudi Arabia’s total oil production (including exports) goes towards its desalination. See also Rambo, Khulood A. “Water-Energy Nexus in Saudi Arabia”, Energy Procedia, 105, May 2017, pp. 3837-3843 – Desalinated water accounted for approximately 70% of Saudi Arabia’s water use between 2005 and 2017 (must be referring to domestic/non-agricultural use), between 10-20% of domestic Saudi energy consumption goes towards desalination (including more than half of domestic oil consumption), and the end cost paid by users is equivalent to only 5-10% of the production cost in the public sector. See also Walton, Brett “Saudi Arabia to Use Solar Energy for Desalination Plants”, Circle of Blue, January 26, 2010 – In 2010, Saudi Arabia’s desalination plants consumed 1.5 million bpd of oil and provided between 50% and 70% of the country’s drinking water. See also Aldosri, Fahad Owis; Fiaz, Sajid; and Noor, Mehmood Ali “Achieving food security in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia through innovation: Potential role of agricultural extension”, Journal of the Saudi Society of Agricultural Sciences, Volume 17, Issue 4, October 2018, pp. 365-375 – In 2007, 88% of Saudi water went towards agriculture. See also Stone, Daniel “Is Your Country Food Independent?”, National Geographic, April 13, 2014 – Saudi Arabia imports 80% of its food.
[xxi] Ball, Jeffrey “Why the Saudis Are Going Solar”, The Atlantic, July/August 2015 – In 2015, the Saudis spent $80 billion on domestic energy subsidies – equivalent to more than a third of the kingdom’s budget. See also Al-Khatteeb, Luay “Saudi Arabia’s economic time bomb”, Brookings, December 30, 2015 – In 2015, the Saudi government spent around $61 billion on subsidies for oil and gas – Out of Saudi Arabia’s 2015 oil production of 10.3 million barrels, it exported 7.15 million bpd and consumed 3.15 million bpd locally (30.6%). See also “Country Analysis Brief: Saudi Arabia”, U.S. Energy Information Administration, October 20, 2017 – In 2016, Saudi Arabia consumed roughly one-third of the oil it produced (3.9 million bpd out of 12.4 million bpd of petroleum liquids – 10.5 million bpd of which was crude oil). See also “Country Analysis Brief: Saudi Arabia”, U.S. Energy Information Administration, October 20, 2017 – In 2016, Saudi Arabia consumed roughly one-third of the oil it produced, and while it is self-sufficient in natural gas, considering it has the fourth-largest reserves, that it does not export represents a large loss of potential income. See also Krane, Jim “Energy Governance in Saudi Arabia: an Assessment of the Kingdom’s Resources, Policies, and Climate Approach”, Center for Energy Studies, Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, January 2019 – Saudi Arabia consumes about one-third of the energy it produces (in 2017 came to 3.92 million bpd of oil and natural gas out of 11.95 million bpd produced), sells domestic oil at around $6 per barrel (essentially at cost and fetching about a tenth of what could be gained if exported), while ranking 47th in population (and around 18th in GDP), Saudi Arabia is the fifth-largest overall consumer of oil in the world (including its per-capita consumption [44 bpd] over four-times Germany  and three-times Japan ), and 70% of Saudi Arabia’s electricity demand goes towards air conditioning. See also Rambo, Khulood A. “Water-Energy Nexus in Saudi Arabia”, Energy Procedia, 105, May 2017, pp. 3837-3843 – Saudi Arabia holds the fifth-largest reserves of natural gas but so far its production only covers domestic demand (has 8.2 trillion cubic meters in reserves), and the Saudis rank 6thin oil consumption (while around 40th in population and 18th in GDP).
[xxii] “Government expenditure on education, total (% of GDP)”, The World Bank – Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Saudi Arabia’s education spending as a percentage of GDP was larger than the European Union and OECD – Comparing all three between 1991 and 2008, Saudi Arabia averaged 6.27%, the EU averaged 4.87%, and the OECD averaged 4.88%. See also Pennington, Roberta “Saudi plans major overhaul to poorly performing education system”, The National, December 11, 2017 – In 2017, the Saudi government spent $53.3 billion on education – about 25% of its budget. See also Al-Khatteeb, Luay “Saudi Arabia’s economic time bomb”, Brookings,December 30, 2015 – 23% of Saudi Arabia’s 2016 budget of $224 billion went toward education and training ($51 billion). See also Omran, Ahmed Al “Saudi Arabia raises the alarm over rising unemployment”, Financial Times, April 28, 2018 – Saudi female unemployment sits at 33%. See also Kabbani, Nader “Youth Employment in the Middle East and North Africa: Revisiting and Reframing the Challenge”, Brookings Doha Center, February 2019 – Youth Unemployment in Saudi Arabia is at 42%.
[xxiii] See also Omran, Ahmed Al “Saudi Arabia raises the alarm over rising unemployment”, Financial Times, April 28, 2018 – Two-thirds of working Saudis are employed by the state and expatriates make up around 90% of private-sector jobs. See also “Why Gulf economies struggle to wean themselves off oil”, The Economist, June 21, 2018 – Two-thirds of Saudi nationals that work are employed by the government. See also “Saudi Arabia unveils first public sector pay cuts”, BBC, September 27, 2016 – Two-thirds of working Saudis are employed by the public sector and their $128 billion in salaries and allowances accounted for 45% of government spending in 2015. See also “Economic Diversification in Oil-Exporting Arab Countries”, International Monetary Fund, April 2016 – In 2014, Saudi Arabia’s public sector accounted for about one-third of all employment and employed roughly two-thirds of working Saudi citizens with the rest being filled by foreign workers who make up around 33% of the population. See also “How oil transformed the Gulf”, The Economist, June 21, 2018 – Guest workers make up some 30% of Saudi Arabia. See also Al Omran, Ahmed “Record numbers of foreign workers leave Saudi Arabia”, Financial Times, July 10, 2018 – Foreign workers make up roughly one-third of Saudi Arabia’s population and over 80% of its private sector.
[xxiv] “Why Gulf economies struggle to wean themselves off oil”, The Economist, June 21, 2018 – Saudi Arabia’s per-capita income ranks 40th in the world (real GDP per person has been flat or in decline for decades) and its 2017 budget deficit was 9% of GDP. See also “GDP per capita (constant 2010 US$)”, The World Bank – In constant 2010 dollars, Saudi per capita income in the 1970s was $33,375 but between 2008 and 2017 was $20,540 – a drop of 38.45%. See also “Saudi Arabia unveils first public sector pay cuts”, BBC, September 27, 2016 – In response to the 2011 Arab Spring the Saudi government under King Abdullah launched a $130 billion plan to raise public sector salaries, build subsidized housing, and provide benefits to the unemployed; and Saudi Arabia’s government had a record $98 billion budget deficit in 2015. See also “Economic Diversification in Oil-Exporting Arab Countries”, International Monetary Fund, April 2016 – With its 2015 breakeven oil price at $100 while oil dropped below $60, Saudi Arabia ran deficits both then and in 2016. See also Al-Khatteeb, Luay “Saudi Arabia’s economic time bomb”, Brookings, December 30, 2015 – In 2015, Saudi Arabia’s government expenditures of $260 billion brought with it a $98 billion deficit. See also Mogielnicki, Robert “Year-on-Year Deficits Brewing in Gulf Economies”, Stratfor, April 24, 2019 – 2019 will be Saudi Arabia’s sixth consecutive year of budget deficits.
[xxv] Krane, Jim “Energy Governance in Saudi Arabia: an Assessment of the Kingdom’s Resources, Policies, and Climate Approach”, Center for Energy Studies, Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, January 2019 – Saudi oil production costs typically run about $5-$10 per barrel. See also “Saudi Arabia Fast Facts”, CNN, October 29, 2018 – As of 2018, Saudi Arabia’s held 22% of the world’s oil reserves.
[xxvi] Parks, Michael “Saudis and Soviets Agree to Resume Diplomatic Ties”, Los Angeles Times, September 18, 1990 – The two countries ended half a century of hostility on September 17, 1990. See also “Soviet Military Capabilities To Project Power and Influence in Distant Areas”, CIA, National Intelligence Estimate, November 10, 1979 – Two-thirds of all Soviet military aid to the Developing World between 1956 and 1978 went to Arab countries, between 1955 and 1978, 43.5% of the Developing World’s military personnel trained in the Soviet Union came from Arab countries, and by 1978, 60% of all Soviet military advisors in the Developing World were in Arab countries – The $8.4 billion in military aid given to Saudi neighbors Egypt, Iraq, and South Yemen represented one-third of all Soviet military aid to the Developing world between 1956 and 1978. See also Kinsella, David “Conflict in Context: Arms Transfers and Third World Rivalries during the Cold War”, American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 38, No. 3, August 1994, pp. 557-581 – The Soviets accounted for 86% of Egypt’s imported arms between 1955 and 1976, 93% of Syria’s between 1955 and 1988, and 77% of Iraq’s between 1958 and 1988. See also “Soviet Role in the Middle East”, CIA, June 1977 – Between 1955 and 1976, the Soviet Union delivered $2.192 billion in Economic Aid to Arab Countries – Between 1956 and 1976, the Soviets delivered $12.122 billion in arms to Arab states – including $495 million to Algeria, $3.939 billion to Egypt, $2.691 billion to Iraq, $1.119 billion to Libya, and $3.570 billion to Syria. See also “Soviet Role in the Middle East”, CIA, June 1977 – At the height of Soviet-Egyptian relations between the 1967 and 1973 wars, the number of Soviet military advisers peaked at 13,500.
[xxvii] Heiman, Leo “War in the Middle East”, Military Review, Vol. 47, No. 9, September 1967, pp. 56-66 – In 1967, Israel destroyed over four hundred Arab aircraft and captured $2 billion worth of Soviet weapons including nine SA-2 surface-to-air missiles. See also Zabecki, David T. “Suez Smashup”, Military History, July 2010, pp. 44-53 – During the War of Attrition, Israel shot down ninety-eight Egyptian planes. See also “13 Syrian Mig-21s Downed, 1 Israeli Plane Downed in Biggest Air Clash Since the Six-day War”, Jewish Telegraph Agency, September 14, 1973 – In-between the 1967 and 1973 wars, Israel shot down sixty Syrian planes. See also “Soviet Military Resupply Activities in the Middle East”, CIA, December 1973 – During the 1973 War, Egypt and Syria together lost 439 aircraft, 1,700 tanks, and 45 SAM missiles. See also Brower, Kenneth S. “The Yom Kippur War”, Military Review, Vol. 54, No. 3, March 1974, pp. 25-33 – Throughout the 1973 War, the combined Arab armies lost 475 aircraft and 2,300 tanks. See also Hurley, Matthew M. “The Bekaa Valley Air Battle, June 1982: Lessons Mislearned?”, Airpower Journal, Vol. 3. No. 4, Winter 1989, pp. 60-70 – In its initial phase of the Lebanon War in June 1982, Israel’s air force destroyed all nineteen Syrian SA-6 SAMs in the Bekaa Valley while simultaneously shooting down sixty-four Syrian jets without any losses in the largest air battle the Middle East has ever seen. See also United Press International, August 10, 1986 – Over the course of its wars, Israel captured over three-hundred tanks from the Arabs. See also Zaloga, Steven “T-62 Main Battle Tank 1965-2005”, Osprey, 2009, p.5 – Israel captured T-62 tanks in 1973, and Syria lost three hundred tanks (T-55s and T-62s) to Israel in the Lebanon War. See also “SA-6 ‘Gainful’ surface-to-air missile system”, War Machine, ORBIS, Vol. 1, Issue 9, 1983, p. 169 – Israel captured many SA-6 Surface-to-air missiles in the 1973 War and passed them along to the US. See also Heiman, Leo “Armored Forces in the Middle East”, Military Review, Vol. 48, No. 11, November 1968, pp. 11-19 – in the 1967 war, of the 1,100 Egyptian tanks and self-propelled armored assault guns stationed in Gaza and the Sinai, nearly eight hundred were either destroyed or captured intact. See also Oren, Michael B. “Six Days of War”, 2003, Random House, pp. 305-306 – The 1967 War brought Israel vast amounts of captured Arab weapons including hundreds of tanks and artillery guns, thousands of assorted vehicles, and 2 SAM missile batteries. See also Holpuch, Amanda “Area 51 hosted tests for ‘secretly acquired’ Soviet fighter jets”, The Guardian, October 29, 2013 – In 1968, Israel loaned the MiG-21 it captured from Iraq to the US. See also “Syrian Pilots stray, land 2 jets in Israel”,Chicago Tribune, August 13, 1968 – In 1968, Syrian pilots accidently landed in Israel in a MiG-17. See also Richelson, Jeffrey T. “Spying on the MiGs”, Air Force Magazine, Vol. 94, No. 3, March 2011, pp. 78-81 – Israel lent the Americans two MiG-17s and one MiG-21. See also Mizokami, Kyle “Grand Theft Afghanistan”, War Is Boring, October 11, 2013 – During an operation in 1969, Israel was able to steal an entire Soviet-built P-12 radar station.
[xxviii] “Saudi Arms Imports”, SIPRI – Between 1950 and 2018, 62.7% of Saudi Arabia’s $65.448 billion in arms imports came from the US ($41.064 billion) and 97.1% came NATO countries ($63.556 billion). See also “Saudi Arabia lays the Foundation for a Defense Industry of Its Own”, Stratfor, November 9, 2018 – Between 1990 and 2017, over 62% of Saudi arms imports came from the US ($24.66 billion) – over 97% from NATO states ($39.6 billion). Aboulafia, Richard “Boeing F-15 Eagle”, Teal Group Corporation, World Military & Civil Aircraft Briefing, May 2017 – As of May 2017, Saudi Arabia had purchased 204 F-15s. See also Saab, Bilal Y. “Beyond the Proxy Powder Keg: The Specter of War Between Saudi Arabia and Iran”, Middle East Institute, Policy Paper 2, May 2018 – Saudi Arabia’s air force includes 165 F-15s, seventy-one Eurofighter Typhoons, and sixty-eight European-built Tornados. See also Wezeman, Pieter D “Saudi Arabia, armaments and conflict in the Middle East”, SIPRI, December 14, 2018 – Throughout the 1990s, the US supplied the Saudis with 72 F-15Ss and in 2016 began replacing those with a massive order of 154 F-15SAs, while the UK supplied at least 84 Tornado combat aircraft and 72 Typhoon combat aircraft (48 more contracted in 2018). See also Mizokami, Kyle “Israel’s 5 Most Lethal Weapons of War in the Sky”, The National Interest, August 27, 2015 – Between 1976 and the end of the 1982 Lebanon war, Israeli F-15s shot down 58 enemy planes with zero losses. See also Cooper, Tom “Has Anyone Ever Shot Down an F-15 in Air Combat?”, War Is Boring, December 29, 2017 – The F-15 Eagle has a clear-cut win-to-loss ratio of 104 to zero. See also Aloni, Shlomo “Israeli F-15 Eagle Units In Combat”, Osprey Publishing, 2006, pp. 22 and 87-88 – President Carter first approved the sale of F-15s to Saudi Arabia in 1978 while between 1979 and 1985, Israeli F-15s shot down fifty-three enemy planes without any losses.
[xxix] Painter, David S. “Oil and the American Century”, The Journal of American History, Vol. 99, Issue 1, June 2012, pp. 24-39 – At the time of Nasser’s 1956 nationalization, two-thirds of Persian Gulf oil destined for Western Europe went through the Suez Canal. See also Orkaby, Asher “Rivals With Benefits: Israel and Saudi Arabia’s Secret History of Cooperation”, Foreign Affairs, March 13, 2015 – With Britain and Saudi Arabia not wanting to be seen openly supporting royalist forces in Yemen, they reached out to Israel to help provide supplies during the 1960s civil war. See also Ferris, Jesse “Egypt’s Vietnam: Lessons from the last time Cairo waded into war in Yemen”, Foreign Policy, April 3, 2015 – King Faisal of Saudi Arabia went so far as to visit Shiite Iran in order to offer the Shah of Iran an “Islamic Pact” against the Egyptians. See also Tharoor, Ishaan “How Yemen was once Egypt’s Vietnam”, Washington Post, March 28, 2015 – Nasser sent tens of thousands of troops to Yemen – peaking at a 70,000-man deployment. See also Walz, Jay “Nasser’s Concern Growing Over Yemen”, New York Times, May 3, 1964 – By 1964, Egypt was stationing between twenty-five to thirty thousand troops in Yemen – roughly one-third of the Egyptian army. See also “Soviet Military Aid to the United Arab Republic, 1955-66”, CIA, Intelligence Report, March 1967, pp.17-18 – Between 1963 and the June 1967 War, roughly one-third of Egypt’s army was stationed in North Yemen during its civil war to fight pro-Saudi forces.
[xxx] “Israel admits striking suspected Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007”, BBC, March 21, 2018 – The Syrian reactor was roughly 280 miles north-east of Damascus in Deir al-Zour, which came under Islamic State control in 2014.
[xxxi] “Mapping the Global Muslim Population”, PEW Research Center, October 2009 – Based off of this 2009 report, the total number of Muslims living in the countries listed that had relations with Israel was around 643 million out of a total listed of 1.571 billion (41%), and that included fifteen countries that were Muslim-majority (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Jordan, Chad, Guinea, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Albania). See also Lewis, Ori “Israeli PM Netanyahu makes rare visit to Oman”, Reuters, October 26, 2018 – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Gulf state of Oman in October 2018 and met with Omani leader Sultan Qaboos. See also “Israel’s prime minister visits Oman, an Arab monarchy—and is welcomed”, The Economist, November 1, 2018 – In October 2018, Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev visited with Emirati officials at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. See also Black, Ian “Why Israel is quietly cosying up to Gulf monarchies”, The Guardian, March 19, 2019 – Following President Trump’s late-2017 announcement to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Bahraini foreign minister (while acknowledging the importance of a two-state solution with East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital) tweeted out that “It’s not helpful to pick a fight with the US over side issues while we together fight the clear and present danger of The Theo-Fascist Islamic republic.”
[xxxii] Karsh, Efraim “Arab Imperialism: The Tragedy of the Middle East”, Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, August 2006 – Just as an example (though an important on), When Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat traveled to Baghdad to express his support for Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait, Hussein told him that “It’s obvious that as soon as I am attacked I’ll attack Israel. Israeli involvement in the conflict will change everyone’s attitude in the Arab world, and the aggression against Iraq will be seen as an American-Zionist plot.”
[xxxiii] “Turkey and Israel: Animosity ends when it comes to money”, Deutsche Welle, December 12, 2017 – Turkey was the first Muslim country to recognize Israel in 1948, and in 2017 Israel was the tenth most important export market for Turkish products. See also “Trade between Israel and Turkey booming”, Yedioth Ahronoth (Ynet), February 11, 2015 – Even with severed diplomatic relations, from 2009 to 2014 trade between Israel and Turkey doubled to $5.6 billion. See also “World Integrated Trade Solution – Israel”, World Bank – In 2016, Turkey was Israel’s 10th largest export market ($1.3 billion in Israeli exports to Turkey). See also “World Integrated Trade Solution – Turkey”, World Bank – In 2016, Israel was Turkey’s 12th-largest export market ($2.96 billion – nearly as much as the $3.17 billion exported to Saudi Arabia). See also “Where does Israel export to? (2017)”, The Observatory of Economic Complexity, MIT Media Lab – In 2017, Turkey was Israel’s seventh-largest export market.
[xxxiv] Crittenden, Ann “Israel and the Arabs: Israel’s Economic Plight”, Foreign Affairs, Summer 1979 – Prior to the 1979 revolution, Iran purchased some $200 million worth of Israeli exports each year. See also Myre, Greg “The 1973 Arab Oil Embargo: The Old Rules No Longer Apply”, National Public Radio, October 16, 2013 – While the Arab states boycotted, Iran continued to export oil to the US throughout the six-month oil embargo that lasted until March 1974 which of course help to minimize the political/economic stress on Israel. See also Alvandi, Roham “Nixon, Kissinger, and the Shah: the origins of Iranian primacy in the Persian Gulf”, Diplomatic History, Vol. 36, Issue 2, April 1, 2012, pp. 337-372 – By May 1972, Iran’s military expenditures were three-times that of Iraq and nearly double Saudi Arabia’s, while US arms sales to Iran grew seven-fold between 1969 and 1974 and continued upward even after that (peaking at $2.55 billion in 1977). See also “AWACS for Iran, Continued”, New York Times, September 9, 1977 – Prior to the 1979 revolution, Iran was by far the largest purchaser of American arms – for instance it accounted for over half ($5.5 billion out of $9.9 billion) of America’s fiscal-year 1977 arms exports. See also Sciolino, Elaine “Documents Detail Israeli Missile Deal With The Shah”, New York Times, April 1, 1986 – Beginning in 1977, and lasting until the 1979 revolution, Iran and Israel had several joint military programs, including a multibillion-dollar joint missile venture. See also Bialer, Uri “Fuel Bridge across the Middle East – Israel, Iran, and the Eilat-Ashkelon Oil Pipeline”, Israel Studies, Vol. 12, No. 3, Fall 2007, pp. 29-67 – With the closing of the Suez Canal in 1967, Israel established the Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline, which Iran used until 1979 to export oil to Europe, and Iran supplied over 90% of Israel’s oil imports between the mid-1950s and 1979.
[xxxv] Daigle, Craig A. “The Russians Are Going: Sadat, Nixon and the Soviet Presence in Egypt, 1970-1971”, Middle East Review of International Affairs, March 2004 – Egypt’s military expenditures, including the costs of the Soviet advisors, increased by 75% between 1967 and 1970 ($718 million to $1.26 billion). See also Bialer, Uri “Fuel Bridge across the Middle East – Israel, Iran, and the Eilat-Ashkelon Oil Pipeline”, Israel Studies, Vol. 12, No. 3, Fall 2007, pp. 29-67 – With the closing of the Suez Canal between 1967 and 1975 due to its military conflict with Israel, Egypt lost some $300 million per year in income. See also Dethier, Jean-Jacques and Funk, Kathy “The Language of Food”, Middle East Research and Information Project, March/April 1987 – The cost of Egypt’s food imports doubled between 1973 and 1974, increased by 40% in 1975, and rose another 35% in 1976; while the cost in food subsidies increased thirty-fold between 1972 and 1974 – when wheat subsidies alone represented 30% of the government’s budget. See also Murphy, Dan “Bread riots or bankruptcy: Egypt faces stark economic choices”, Christian Science Monitor, April 3, 2013 – Sadat’s historic 1977 trip to Jerusalem led to a tight relationship with the US and international lenders like the IMF which gave the country credit on easy terms, and debt forgiveness when times get tough. See also “Soviet Role in the Middle East”, CIA, June 1977 – Soviet economic aid to Egypt never exceeded more than $90 million per year and so it was easily eclipsed by newly-wealthy Arab oil-producing countries and by Western states in the mid-1970s.
[xxxvi] See also Grant, Rebecca “Ascendant Eagle”, Air Force Magazine, July 2013, pp. 40-44 – The F-15’s first real-combat experience was on June 27, 1979 when six Israeli F-15s shot down all five Syrian MiG-21s they encountered. See also Claiborne, William “Israeli Jets Battle Syrian Warplanes in Lebanese Airspace”, Washington Post, June 28, 1979 – On June 28, 1979, Israeli warplanes used F-15s for the first time anywhere in real combat and shot down five Syrian MiG-21 fighters in dogfights over the coast of southern Lebanon. See also Demerly, Tom “36 Years Ago today, ‘Operation Opera’: The Israeli Air Strike on an Iraqi Nuclear Reactor”, The Aviationist, June 7, 2017 – Israel’s 1981 raid destroying Iraq’s nuclear reactor utilized eight F-16s and introduced the fighter jet to real combat. See also “Air War over Lebanon”, War Machine, ORBIS, Volume 1, Issue 5, 1983, p. 87 – The June 1982 air battel was the first to introduce the F-16 to air-to-air warfare (was used in the 1981 Iraqi raid as a fighter-bomber and encountered no enemy fighter jets). See also Hurley, Matthew M. “The Bekaa Valley Air Battle, June 1982: Lessons Mislearned?”, Airpower Journal, Vol. 3, No. 4, Winter 1989, pp. 60-70 – The Bekaa Valley battle was the first combat situation involving the use of modern airborne warning and control system aircraft, better known as AWACS.
[xxxvii] Kane, Tim “The Decline of American Engagement: Patterns in U.S. Troop Deployments”, Hoover Institution, January 11, 2016 – Over one-fifth of all US servicemen were stationed abroad between 1950 and 2014. See also “Defence Expenditure of NATO Countries (2010-2017)”, NATO, June 29, 2017 – While the US spends roughly 3.5% of its GDP on defense, other NATO members have collectively spent below 2% since 2000. See also Fleurant, Aude; Kuimova, Alexandra; Tian, Nan; Wezeman, Pieter D.; and Wezeman, Siemon T. “Trends in World Military Expenditure, 2018”, SIPRI, April 2019 – In 2018, Israel’s $15.9 billion defense budget was the seventeenth-largest in the world and 4.3% of its GDP (down from 6.8% in 2009).
[xxxviii] Butt, Gerald “Lesson from history: 1955 Baghdad Pact”, BBC, February 26, 3003 – The Baghdad Pact was created in 1955 by Britain, Iraq, Turkey, Iran and Pakistan with the aim of strengthening regional defense and preventing the infiltration of the Soviet Union into the Middle East. See also Hess, John L. “Libya Soon Gets Wheelus, Including Bowling Alleys”, New York Times, June 8, 1970 – After the 1969 Libyan military coup, the US Air Force lost its Wheelus base – the last one in Africa. See also “Exports from the US”,SIPRI – Between 1970 and 1979, Iran purchased $21.286 billion out of the $125.873 billion in American foreign arms exports (16.91%).
[xl] “United States Military Exports”, SIPRI – Between 1988 and 2018, Saudi Arabia’s $28.052 billion in American arms purchases was the highest in the world but still only accounted for less than 10% of America’s $302.546 billion in foreign sales. See also “Defense Budget Overview”, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense, March 2019 – For fiscal year 2020, the US Department of Defense will have a procurement budget of $143 billion. See also Hartung, William D. “Here’s Where Your Tax Dollars for ‘Defense’ Are Really Going”, The Nation, October 10, 2017 – In 2016 alone, America’s top-five arms companies (Lockheed Martin at $36.2 billion, Boeing at $24.3 billion, Raytheon at $12.8 billion, General Dynamics at $12.7 billion, and Northrop Grumman at $10.7 billion) took in $96.7 billion in revenue from the American Department of Defense.
[xli] “U.S. Exports to MENA Region a ‘Mixed Bag’ in 2017”, National US-Arab Chamber of Commerce, February 22, 2018 – The combined 2017 American exports to the five smaller GCC states ($31.3 billion) were nearly double the $16.26 billion sent to Saudi Arabia. See also “Exports from the US”, SIPRI – Between 2008 and 2018, Saudi Arabia purchased $13.7 billion worth of American arms while Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the UAE together purchased $12.6 billion. See also Katzman, Kenneth “Iran’s Foreign and Defense Policies”, Congressional Research Service, October 9, 2018 – America’s roughly 35,000 troops in the region are stationed throughout the four smaller Gulf states but none are in Saudi Arabia, including 13,000 in Kuwait, 10,000 in Qatar (CENTCOM’s headquarters), 5,000 in the UAE, and 8,000 in Bahrain (Fifth Fleet’s headquarters). See also Vakil, Sanam “Iran and the GCC: Hedging, Pragmatism, and Opportunism”, Chatham House, September 2018 – The US has operational bases and defense agreements with all GCC states besides Saudi Arabia – particularly including the Fifth Fleet’s headquarters in Bahrain and CENTCOM’s headquarters in Qatar.
See also Gambrell (AP), Jon “Natural gas built Qatar, now may protect it in Gulf dispute”, Chicago Tribune, June 12, 2017 – Qatar hosts some 10,000 American soldiers at the forward headquarters of the US military’s Central Command which is the largest American military base in the region. See also Obaid, Nawaf “Trump Will Regret Changing His Mind About Qatar”, Foreign Policy, August 15, 2018 – America’s Al Udeid joint airbase with Qatar outside of Doha serves as the command center for US air operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.
[xlii] Brennan, David “How Does Israel’s Military Compare to Iran?”, Newsweek, June 6, 2018 – Israel’s 2017 military budget was $16.5 billion while Iran’s was $14.5 billion, Israel’s roughly 250 fighter jets include F-35s (for which Israel will eventually have fifty) while Iran’s around 160 fighter jets are older but do include MiG-29s and Su-24s, and Israel fields 2,760 tanks compared to Iran’s 1,650.
[xliii] Fleurant, Aude; Kuimova, Alexandra; Tian, Nan; Wezeman, Pieter D.; and Wezeman, Siemon T. “Trends in International Arms Transfers, 2017”, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Fact Sheet, March 2018 – Israel was the eighth-largest arms exporter between 2013 and 2017. See also Arnett, George “The numbers behind the worldwide trade in drones”, The Guardian, March 16, 2015 – Between 1985 and 2015, Israel accounted for over 60% of the globe’s exported drones. See also Egozie, Arie “Can Israel Remain the World’s Top UAS Exporter?”, Aviation Week, February 6, 2018 – Israel has dominated the export market of unmanned aerial systems since 1985 which included between 2010 and 2014 when it delivered some 165 systems abroad. See also “Israel is Top Global Exporter of Unmanned Aerial Systems with a Continued Positive Outlook Ahead”, Frost and Sullivan, May 20, 2013 – Israel was the largest global exporter of drones in 2013, with total sales of $4.62 billion between 2005 and 2012. See also Biedermann, Ferry “US draws on Israeli cyberpower and sells to Saudi Arabia”, CNBC, May 24, 2017 – In 2017, Israel encompassed roughly 10% of global market share in cyber security, second only to the US. See also Loewenstein, Antony “Exporting the Technology of Occupation”, New York Review of Books, January 4, 2019 – 20% of 2016 global investments in the surveillance and intelligence sector were in Israeli start-ups and Israel’s $1 billion in venture capital and private equity for cyber security in 2017 came second only to the United States. See also Jacobsen, Rowen “Israel Proves the Desalination Era is Here”, Scientific American, July 29, 2016 – Israel recaptures 86% of its waste water to be used in agriculture (first in the world and vastly ahead of second-place Spain at 19%) and its handful of desalination plants provide for more than 55% of domestic water to the nation of over nine million. See also Martin, Bradley “Israel Is the Key to Solving the World’s Water Crisis”, The American Spectator, April 26, 2017 – Israel recaptures 85% of its sewage water (US does so with only 5%) and now has enough water to export to Jordan and support billions in agricultural exports. See also Harris, Emily “Israel Bets On Recycled Water To Meet Its Growing Thirst”, National Public Radio, Weekend Edition, June 21, 2015 – Treated sewage water provides close to a quarter of Israel’s water including half of that used by its farms. See also Talbot, David “Megascale Desalination: The world’s largest and cheapest reverse-osmosis desalination plant is up and running in Israel”, MIT Technology Review, 2015 Breakthrough Technologies – Israel’s largest desalination plant Sorek alone provides for 20% of its household water consumption (sells water for about $.58 per thousand liters). See also Coutinho, Frank “Israel’s Agriculture Is Showing Good Growth”, The Times of Israel,July 15, 2018 – Israel produces 95% of its own food requirements. See also Reed, John “Israel: Start-up nation comes of age”, Financial Times, January 6, 2016 – As of January 2016, Israel’s technology sector accounted for 18% of the country’s GDP and more than a third of its total exports.
[xliv] See also Kasnett, Israel “As Africa grapples with demographics on a grand scale, Israel is ready with its expertise”, Jewish News Syndicate, February 7, 2019 – As of February 2019, Israel had diplomatic relations with 160 out of roughly 193 recognized states. See also “These 36 Countries Don’t Recognize Israel”, Brilliant Maps, May 2, 2015 – Three of the 36 listed (Nicaragua, Guinea, and Chad) have since renewed diplomatic relations. See also Ahren, Raphael “Israel to renew diplomatic ties with Nicaragua”, Times of Israel, March 29, 2017 – As of March 29, 2017, Israel had diplomatic relations with 159 states. See also “2018 World Economic Outlook”, International Monetary Fund, November 2018 – 1) The total 2018 GDP (in current prices) for the thirty-three states without relations with Israel (no data listed for Cuba, North Korea, and Syria) was $4.99 trillion out of a total world GDP of $84.84 trillion (not including amounts for Cuba, North Korea, or Syria added) – 2) The total 2018 population for the thirty-three states without relations with Israel (no data listed for Cuba, North Korea, Somalia, or Syria) was 1.14 billion out of a global population of 7.46 billion (not counting numbers for Cuba, North Korea, Somalia, or Syria). See also “The World Factbook”, CIA – 1) In terms of GDP at official exchange rate, North Korea had a GDP of $28 billion (2013 estimate), Syria had a GDP of $24.6 billion (2014 estimate), and Cuba had a GDP of $93.79 billion (2017 estimate) – Adding together the GDP estimates for these three countries to both the boycotting countries and the world total is how the $5.138 trillion out of $84.981 = 6.045% – 2) In terms of population, Cuba was listed at 11.116 million (July 2018 estimate), North Korea was listed at 25.381 million (July 2018 estimate), Somalia at 11.259 million (July 2018 estimate), and Syria at 19.454 million (July 2018 estimate) – Adding this total unaccounted for amount of 67.21 million to both the boycotting countries and the world total gives us 1.205 billion out of 7.529 billion = 16.007%.
Jonathan Honigman graduated from the University of Florida with a BA in Political Science and currently works as a synagogue administrator in Washington, DC.