RTX axes deal over Saudi firm’s sanctioned allies

Washington (Caasimada Online) – Prominent American weapons manufacturer RTX has officially halted its multibillion-dollar venture with Scopa Defense, a Saudi weapons firm.

The decision comes in light of recent revelations suggesting that Scopa Defense sought to collaborate with sanctioned Russian and Chinese entities.

Such contentious associations further prompted Scopa Defense’s advisory board, composed primarily of retired U.S. military officers, to tender their resignations.

In 2022, RTX, previously known as Raytheon Technologies, partnered with Scopa to plan a factory establishment in Saudi Arabia.

The strategic initiative was designed to create air defense systems to safeguard Riyadh against potential aerial assaults.

Significantly, Riyadh had been previously targeted, as evidenced by the 2019 drone attack on Saudi Aramco’s oil infrastructures.

Nasr Alghrairi, the ex-CEO of Scopa, emphasized that this proposed deal, valued at $25bn, promised lucrative returns for Saudi Arabia, projecting sales nearing $17bn.

Scopa’s ties with sanctioned entities 

According to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Scopa’s owner, Mohamed Alajlan, established two additional enterprises – Tal Military Industries and Sepha Military Industries.

Intriguingly, he appointed executives from a US-sanctioned Russian firm and a Chinese national, previously involved in negotiations with blacklisted Chinese corporations, to oversee these two companies.

Both Saudi enterprises shared digital infrastructure with Scopa, allegedly aiming to procure classified information from RTX.

Further, Sepha, as evidenced by certain documents, had manifested interest in marketing and assembling Russian military equipment in Saudi Arabia.

Despite these findings, Alajlan rebuffed claims of his involvement with the sanctioned Russian corporations.

He also limited his affiliation with Chinese entities solely to procure raw materials. Dismissing these allegations as baseless, he stated, “We don’t work with companies with international sanctions.”

Diplomatic implications 

It’s noteworthy that the American embassy in Riyadh was privy to the discussions between Tal, Sepha, and the sanctioned Chinese and Russian firms as early as August 2022.

Consequently, they warned Scopa about potential challenges in forging future contracts with American defense companies.

A U.S. official acknowledged Washington’s apprehensions regarding Alajlan’s firms liaising with sanctioned parties.

These developments ensue as Saudi Arabia gravitates towards China and Russia while consolidating its alliance with Western nations.

Notably, Saudi Arabia has intensified its ties with China, its prime trade ally, while fortifying its bond with the U.S., primarily for security purposes.

Besides RTX, several Western corporations, including Italy’s Beretta Defense Technologies and shipbuilding magnate Fincantieri SpA, have rescinded their collaborations with Scopa.

Their collective reticence stems from Scopa’s purported affiliations with Russian and Chinese businesses.