Dr Abdolreza Faraji Rad, in an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, referring to the tension in US-Saudi relations and the announcement of the withdrawal of some US equipment and troops from Saudi Arabia, said: Over the past three and a half years Trump has “milked” the Saudis. The Saudi Crown Prince Bin Salman, for instance, had major weak points that gave Trump excuses.
He added that in addition to these issues, Saudi Arabia made many mistakes, including in its relations with Iran, and was forced to rely on the United States following the deterioration of relations and concerns about the alleged threats posed by Iran.
“As the Trump’s term draws to a close, the United States is facing a number of challenges,” he said. “Oil prices have fallen sharply and 2.5 million service workers in shale oil companies may lose their jobs, which is a very important matter for the United States, especially on the eve of the elections. Trump insisted that Saudi Arabia reduce production, but it did so after some delay. On the other hand, the world economy faced a recession due to the coronavirus and there was a decrease in oil consumption. Saudi Arabia’s move has also pushed down oil prices.
Procrastination in Siding with United States Angered Trump
“This made Trump very angry,” Faraji Rad said. Because bin Salman delayed implementation of the order he was supposed to carry out at that time. This was an excuse for Trump to rebuke Riyadh; In particular, representatives of the Senate and Congress also stressed the need to deal with Saudi Arabia.
Explaining other issues facing Saudi officials in the current situation, he added: “Saudis have always paid Americans ransoms in the form of money, gifts, or by buying weapons and receiving services for military training.” As oil prices fell sharply, the Saudis no longer have the huge sums like $110 billion and $50 billion to sign arms deals, and they themselves are facing a severe budget deficit; So Trump knows he can’t easily milk the Saudis as he did three years ago.
For Trump, Saudis Are No Longer a Good Source of Income
The analyst on international affairs said that falling oil prices have made other US products less attractive to buyers in the Saudi market or the Persian Gulf markets, as they are also facing declining funding. “On the other hand, their investments in the United States and the wide-scale banking and economic activities they had also declined; so for Trump, they are no longer a good source of income.”
Referring to Trump’s reluctance to escalate the crisis in the Persian Gulf over Iran, Faraji Rad said: “In fact, he gives the speculation that the US presence in these countries could exacerbate this issue and this presence has heavy costs that the Saudis cannot afford fully due to their budget deficit. However, they have been feeding the Americans for the past three years, but in the past, many costs have been borne by the Americans themselves, as their bases in the Persian Gulf were an opportunity for Washington to meet some of its goals.
Missile Withdrawal Aimed to Gain More Funds from Saudis
The geopolitical professor blamed a series of issues on America’s decision to reduce the number of missiles, equipment and military forces in Saudi Arabia, and said that although the decision had been officially announced, it was not yet definite. The move may put pressure on Saudi officials to provide some of the funding for the US economic crisis for Trump’s election campaign.
Faraji Rad went on to say that in this economic climate, Trump’s own companies have suffered serious losses as an investor with about $4 billion in revenue and may not have the strength to run for office. These pressures have made the Americans test the Saudis to see how much they can help, but the decision does not appear to be final, and it remains to be seen what the Saudi could do to satisfy Trump.
Bin Salman Has Many Weaknesses against the Americans
“I don’t think Bin Salman is kind of a person who can stand up to the United States,” he said, referring to the short-term outlook for US-Saudi relations. He showed great weaknesses, including the murder of (dissident journalist) Jamal Khashoggi. The Americans could easily take him to the International Criminal Court, under the pretext that Turkey is also working on the case.
The international affairs expert noted that Bin Salman is hated inside Saudi Arabia and among princes. “The United States has gained so much intelligence and political influence in Saudi Arabia over the past half a decade that it has established strong ties that can bring princes together.” Also, it could create media pressure and undermine Bin Salman’s credibility outside the borders of Saudi Arabia and in Western countries. Even in this situation, he could raise the issue of 9/11 which has recently been raised again, saying that the Saudi cultural adviser, who is currently in Morocco, was at the Saudi embassy in the United States at the time and was involved in the 9/11 attacks. These are all kind of pressures.
Bin Salman Cannot Stand Up to the United States
Faraji Rad emphasized: If there was a person like King Abdullah who had a personality of his own and believed in traditional and national culture and had supporters inside the country and the princes accepted him, the situation would be different; But all princes inside Saudi Arabia are enemies of Bin Salman; So the Americans can undermine his kingdom if they want to. In fact, when a Crown Prince is to be elected, Americans can vote for Bin Salman as King if they make contact with the “Allegiance Board.”
He said: “Although Bin Salman is trying to get closer to the Zionists to gain their support, the idea is that he will not be able to achieve this position unless the Americans want it.” So he has to coordinate with them and that is why he tries to have that support by getting close to Trump’s son-in-law and his daughter’s family.