President Donald Trump says 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. 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.
“And how about our military deals where we protect rich nations that we don’t get reimbursed. How about that stuff? That’s changing too folks,” Trump told a campaign rally in Southaven, Mississippi, on Tuesday.
“We protect Saudi Arabia. Would you say they’re rich? 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,'” Trump said.
Trump did not say when he made those remarks to the Saudi monarch, but they come amid increasing oil prices in the US. He 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 oil market stability and global economic growth, according to Saudi state news agency SPA.
Trump’s harsh comments came after criticizing oil producers in his speech before the U.N. General Assembly last week as the crude oil prices reach a four-year high. “OPEC -Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries- and OPEC nations are, as usual, ripping off the rest of the world, and I don’t like it. Nobody should like it,” he said. “We defend many of these nations for nothing, and then they take advantage of us by giving us high oil prices. Not good. We want them to stop raising prices. We want them to start lowering prices and they must contribute substantially to military protection from now on.”
The presence of the US military in Saudi Arabia, home to the two holiest sites in Islam – Mecca and Medina – was strongly objected to by most of the world’s Muslim population, according to opinion polls published by Gallup in 2009.
Despite the harsh words, the Trump administration has had a close relationship with Saudi Arabia, which it views as a bulwark against Iran’s ambitions in the region. Saudi Arabia is one of the major buyers of U.S.-made weaponry, and the U.S. provides intelligence and aerial refueling support to Saudi-led coalition fighting rebels in Yemen.