AS WAS forecast several months ago in Euro Weekly News, King Felipe finally arrived in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) on Saturday January 16 on an official visit which may earn Spain several billion euros.
The delayed visit following the death of the brother of the Saudi King is ostensibly to discuss Spanish relationships with the Middle Eastern Kingdom and to try to resolve some problems caused by shifting sand and general delays with the building of a rail link from Mecca to Medina which is way over budget with completion by the Spanish consortium constructing it delayed.
Accompanied by Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis, and Public Works Minister Inigo de la Serna, the King is also expected to discuss the sale of corvettes to the Saudi Navy which if agreed could generate as much as €3 billion for ship builders Navantia which is state owned as well as securing thousands of jobs.
Such a sale will be welcomed as far as the Spanish economy is concerned but is likely to be condemned in many quarters as the Saudi government is heavily involved in a fighting a proxy war with Iran in Yemen which has seen thousands of civilian deaths and the virtual destruction of the country, part of which fought Britain for freedom in the early 1960s.
The country is poor in resources but rich in history although North and South Yemen were divided for many years in the latter part of the 20th century until uniting in 1990.
Many countries including Britain have rushed to supply armaments to Saudi Arabia over the years but many of those weapons are now being used in Yemen where the Sunni Saudis are trying to stop Shi’ite Iran gaining control.
Spain will argue that these naval craft will be supplied for the Saudi navy to use for defence of its waters but others believe that the sale if it goes through is immoral and possibly in breach of international law.