“We protect Saudi Arabia,”Trump proclaimed at a rally in Southaven, Mississippi. “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.’” pic.twitter.com/1j4TkRu91s— Srbija Evropa (@srbija_eu) October 4, 2018
The diplomatic ties between the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have grown significantly stronger since President Donald Trump took office.
However, in a recent Mississippi rally, the POTUS made a rather undiplomatic comment regarding one of his strongest allies.
According to Trump, he told King Salman of Saudi Arabia that the kingdom would not last “two weeks” if it weren’t for the U.S.’ help.
"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.
"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,'" he added.
Trump’s recent relationship with key allies has been frayed.
He has previously called on his NATO allies to be more responsible of their defense cost rather than depending on the United States — the NATO summit was a stark reminder of Trump’s deteriorating standing with the nations that have long stood with America.
TRUMP on SAUDI ARABIA: "I love Saudi Arabia. They are great."— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 30, 2018
But then indicates he's tired of "subsidizing" the Saudi armed forces.
"Why are we subsidizing their military?" pic.twitter.com/1dE3Uu5QzV
Despite his harsh remarks, Trump has enjoyed strengthening relationship with Saudi Arabia. The ties between the two countries had weakened after former President’s Barack Obama signed in the nuclear deal with Iran.
Saudi Arabia and Iran are regional rivals in the Middle East.
Trump recently scrapped the Iran deal, slapping economic sanctions on the country. The effort brought in praise from Saudi Arabia, who has long fought for dominance in the region against Iran.
Trump’s first trip as president was to the kingdom, which resulted in a $110 billion defense deal with King Salman, which was part of a bigger package deal worth $350 billion over the course of the following decade.
So, the assertion that Saudi Arabia would not last without Trump’s support is rather misleading. In fact, the U.S. has benefitted equally from exporting billions of worth of arms to the gulf nation.
According to a report by The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri), the U.S. is largest exporter of arms, globally, with the sales increasing by 25 percent in the last five years. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, is the second largest arms importer.
These arms, have reportedly, been aiding Saudi Arabia in its war in Yemen, against Houthi rebels. The United Sates has defended the gulf state’s involvement in the war, which has resulted in increasing civilian deaths.
Another thing to note is that Saudi Arabia is an oil rich nation and the de facto leader of the OPEC, which has long been the target of Trump’s ire.
Trump, during his recent speech at the United Nations General Assembly, took aim at the OPEC countries again.
“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,” Trump said.
The harsh remarks came amid soaring oil prices, but will Trump’s loud rhetoric work against Saudi royalty, who recently demanded an apology from Canada after the nation expressed concern over their increasingly alarming human rights violations? Only time will tell.
Thumbnail / Banner Credits : MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images