Connect with us

Politics

Trump is wrong, Saudi Arabia needs US more than US needs the kingdom

Published

on


Trump Mohammed bin Salman
President
Donald Trump does not want to reduce arms sales to Saudi Arabia
as a response to Jamal Khashoggi’s killing.

Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

  • President Donald Trump on Tuesday signaled to the world he
    feels the US-Saudi relationship is so utterly indispensable that
    he’s willing to
    give Riyadh a pass on the brutal killing of Jamal
    Khashoggi
    .
  • Trump touted Saudi Arabia’s efforts to thwart Iran, as well
    as US arms sales and low oil prices in his controversial,
    forceful defense of the kingdom. 
  • Foreign policy and national security experts feel Trump has
    greatly embellished the extent to which the US needs Saudi Arabia
    as a partner.
  • At the end of the day, Saudi Arabia now needs the US more
    than it needs the kingdom, but Trump’s policy in the region
    does not reflect this reality whatsoever.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday signaled to the world he feels
the US-Saudi relationship is so utterly indispensable that he’s
willing to give Riyadh a pass on the brutal killing of Jamal
Khashoggi.

The foreign policy community in the US was floored by the
statement Trump released to this effect, characterizing it as
antithetical to America’s values and interests. Foreign policy
and national security experts also feel Trump has greatly
embellished the extent to which the US needs Saudi Arabia as a
partner.

“The crime against Jamal Khashoggi was a terrible one, and
one that our country does not condone,”
Trump said in the controversial statement.
“In any case, our
relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been
a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. The United
States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to
ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other
partners in the region.”

The president in his statement also touted the purported
economic benefits of the US partnership with Saudi Arabia,

making inaccurate claims about US arms sales
while
emphasizing low oil prices. 

‘We are being played’

Aaron David Miller, who helped shape US policy in the
Middle East for decades while serving as an adviser to six
secretaries of state, told INSIDER that Trump’s statement was
“astonishing.”

“I worked for Republicans and Democrats through five
administrations, and there has never been such a statement,”
Miller said, accusing Trump of “draining” US foreign policy of
“any moral or ethical principles.”

If put in the same position as Trump, Miller does not believe any
of the administrations he advised would have done anything that
“would fundamentally undermine the relationship” between
Washington and Riyadh, but they would have at least signaled to
the Saudis they “cannot have carte blanche to trample all over
American interests and have us continue to support them.”


trump saudi arabiaGetty
Images

Miller, who’s now the vice president and Middle East program
director at the Wilson Center, said Saudi Arabia and Prince
Mohammed have succeeded in “bamboozling” the president. “We
are being played,” he said. 

Saudi Arabia is an “important security partner,” Miller said, but
not a true American ally as Trump said given it doesn’t share US
values. 

With that said, the strategic partnership between the US and
Saudis that dates back to the 1940s has begun to crumble in
recent years.

For decades, the US has provided security, while the Saudis have
provided oil. But the US no longer needs Saudi oil, Miller
said, as the shale revolution has made it virtually energy
independent.

Indeed, it’s the US, not Saudi Arabia, that is now
the world’s largest crude-oil producer. 

‘Saudi Arabia needs us a lot more than we need them’

At the end of the day, Saudi Arabia now needs the US “a lot more
than we need them,” Gen. Wesley Clark, the former NATO Supreme
Allied Commander, told CNN on Tuesday in response to the
president’s statement.

Clark said that the Saudis “need” US protection but the US no
longer needs their oil, adding that though it might be
“inconvenient” in the short-run for the US government to take
actions that hurt the royal family there’s also important
strategic value in upholding American ideals.

“If we’re going to have America in the world that we want to see,
we have to stand up for our values, and we have to put those
values up front,” Clark said. “We need to help the Saudis come in
our direction. And calling it like it is on this would help
them.” 

‘We’ve allowed the US-Saudi relationship to get out of control’

Miller said Trump’s obstinate support for Saudi Arabia is linked
to his desire to be fundamentally anti-Obama.

The president felt his predecessor undermined two historically
key partnerships with his policy toward Saudi Arabia and Israel
and has been “determined to show that these are our
core partners in the region and we are going to build policy
around them,” Miller said. 

“I’ve had meetings with Jared Kushner and they are clearly
relying on the Saudis for their regional strategy,” he
added. 

It’s no coincidence that Trump’s first trip abroad involved
visits to Riyadh and Jerusalem
. In the past, presidents often
traveled closer to home, visiting neighboring countries like
Canada and Mexico, on their initial foreign trips.

Miller said what’s required moving forward is more balance in
terms of US policy in the Middle East, contending the Trump
administration needs to take advantage of the leverage it has
over the Saudis in the region. This would involve cooperating
with Iran when it serves US interests, but standing against it
when it doesn’t. 

“We’ve allowed the US-Saudi relationship to get out of control…
and Khashoggi’s murder is just the most extreme manifestation of
a relationship that’s out of control,” Miller said.


khashoggi mbs
A
composite image of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Saudi
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Associated Press/Virginia Mayo; Nicolas Asfouri –
Pool/Getty


Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is suspected of ordering
Khashoggi’s killing, but Trump is standing by him

Khashoggi, a journalist and US resident who wrote for The
Washington Post, was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on
October 2.

The Saudi leadership’s narrative on Khashoggi’s disturbing
killing has taken numerous twists and turns, shifting from
outright denial to acknowledging that members of the government
ended his life. 


Read more:
Here’s everything we know about the troubling disappearance and
death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi

The CIA has reportedly concluded with “high confidence” that
Khashoggi’s killing was ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin
Salman, the de facto ruler of the country.

Trump in his statement on Tuesday said “maybe” Prince Mohammed
orchestrated the killing, but “maybe he didn’t.” He’s
subsequently been accused of once again
undermining the US intelligence community.

Continue Reading
Advertisement Find your dream job

Trending