WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump claims Saudi Arabia’s king “might not be there for two weeks” without US military support, further increasing his pressure on one of America’s closest Mideast allies over rising oil prices. As crude oil prices reach a four-year high, Trump repeatedly has demanded OPEC and Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, push prices down.
However, analysts are warning prices could go up to $100 a barrel as the world’s production is already stretched and Trump’s sanctions on Iran’s oil industry take effect in early November. Criticising America’s longstanding military relationships with allies has been a hallmark of Trump’s presidential campaign and his time in office.
Trump’s comments on Saudi Arabia implied the kingdom’s Al Saud monarchy, which oversees the holiest sites in Islam, would collapse without American military support.
“We protect Saudi Arabia, would you say they’re rich?” Trump asked the cheering crowd. “And I love the king, King Salman, but I said, ‘King we’re protecting you. You might not be there for two weeks without us. You have to pay for your military, you have to pay.'”
Trump didn’t elaborate on when he made the comments to Saud Arabia’s 82-year-old monarch.Trump and King Salman last shared a reported telephone call on Saturday, in which they discussed “efforts to maintain supplies to ensure the stability of the oil market and ensure the growth of the global economy,” according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency.
There was no immediate reaction Wednesday in Saudi Arabia to Trump’s remarks. Riyadh has worked to cultivate warm relations with Trump after having rocky moments with former president Barack Obama.
Saudi Arabia welcomed Trump for his first overseas trip as president. Trump’s administration, particularly his son-in-law Jared Kushner, has sought a close relationship with King Salman’s son Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s crown price and next in line to the throne.