President Trump plays hardball with the Saudis—they fold

The president was not in a giving mood.

OPINION: Reuters reported recently that President Donald Trump came down hard on Saudi Arabia in negotiations on oil production. When the House of Saud balked at production cuts, President Trump played his ace. He told them they would slash production or he would not stand in the way of a bill before Congress that would mandate a U.S. military withdrawal from the desert kingdom. When faced with that, the Saudis capitulated in a Riyadh minute.

Saudi is a firm U.S. ally and a regional counterweight to the Iranians. But now that President Trump has ushered in American energy independence, the oil card doesn’t work for them quite as well as it previously did. Combine that with their practice of buying off Wahhabi radicals by funding their violence-preaching Islamist schools across the globe (as long as they don’t attack the Saudi regime) and you get a nervous ruler, Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) on the throne. He may even suspect that this U.S. president is on to his game.

Reuters said, “The administration notified Saudi leaders that, without production cuts, ‘there would be no way to stop the U.S. Congress from imposing restrictions that could lead to a withdrawal of U.S. forces.’ The official summed up the argument, made through various diplomatic channels, as telling Saudi leaders: ‘We are defending your industry while you’re destroying ours.’” The destruction noted is the Saudi effort to drive down the price of oil by overproduction to try and injure the U.S. shale and fracking industries. That practice is over.

“I thought he [MBS] and President Putin, Vladimir Putin, were very reasonable,” Trump said of the negotiation. “They knew they had a problem, and then this [an oil glut and price war] happened. They were having a hard time making a deal. And I met telephonically with him, and we were able to reach a deal” for production cuts, said the president.

MBS and Putin should have known better than to trifle with the man who wrote the book on the art of the deal. Perhaps now they are better educated.

This opinion piece was written by PoliZette Staff on May 5, 2020. It originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.

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