Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Retired US generals take lucrative jobs with Saudi Arabia

Hundreds of retired US military personnel have taken top jobs with foreign governments, mostly in countries known for political repression and human rights abuses, according to a report by The Washington Post.

In Saudi Arabia, 15 retired US generals and admirals have worked for the kingdom’s defense ministry since 2016. The ministry is led by crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, who US intelligence agencies say approved the 2018 brutal killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi as part of a violent crackdown on political activists.

The report said 25 retirees from the US air force, army, navy and marine corps were granted permission to take jobs in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi-paid American advisers included retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones, a national security adviser to President Barack Obama, and retired Army Gen. Keith Alexander, who led the National Security Agency under Obama and President George W. Bush.

Most of the retired US personnel have worked as “contractors” for Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Persian Gulf monarchies, playing a critical role in upgrading their militaries.

The employments come as the Persian Gulf Arab countries have continued to commit human rights abuses at home and abroad. With the so-called advisors’ helps, as well as support from the US government, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have launched a disastrous war on Yemen, triggering a humanitarian crisis and killing thousands of civilians, according to the United Nations.

The US report added foreign governments pay top dollar for such American military expertise, with salary and benefit packages reaching six and, sometimes, seven figures. At the top of the scale, active four-star generals earn $203,698 a year in basic pay.

A consulting firm owned by six retired Pentagon officials and military officers negotiated a $23.6 million contract with Qatar, a Persian Gulf kingdom that hosts a major US air base, though the proposal later fell through, the report said. And, in Azerbaijan, a retired US air force general was offered a consulting job at a rate of $5,000 a day.

Saudi Arabia hired a former US Navy SEAL to work as a special operations adviser for $258,000 a year. The UAE gave annual compensation packages worth more than $200,000 to helicopter pilots and $120,000 to aircraft mechanics, it added.

Besides paying Americans as lobbyists, lawyers, political consultants and think tank analysts to advance their interests in Washington, these oil-rich Persian Gulf monarchies have accelerated the hiring of retired US military personnel as part of their plans to splurge on “defense spending” and strengthen their “security partnerships” with the Pentagon.

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