Will Trump Play Hardball With Saudis?


World economic markets are already on edge after the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States and Saudi Arabia is still scrambling to restore the market for oil. Now, the Kingdom has issued a warning to Trump about his campaign promise to block imports from Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries if they fail to assist in eliminating the terrorists from ISIS.

While he didn’t specify exactly what could occur, an obviously annoyed Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih indicated that disrupting trade could result in serious consequences.

Trump indicated back in March that the Saudis and others needed to provide manpower or, at a minimum, financial support in eradicating the group that has helped devastate areas of Syria and Iraq. His comments garnered only minimal attention due to the perception that he wouldn’t win the general election. However, his upset victory over Hillary Clinton has made such remarks extremely concerning to all parties involved.

At the time, Trump aggravated the situation by indicating that such a tactic would bring the Kingdom to its knees. In a subsequent speech, he indicated that the United States would achieve independence in the energy market during his administration, which would decimate what he referred to as foes of America.

As late as this past August, the United States imported 3.4 million barrels every day from OPEC countries, with one-third of it coming from Saudi Arabia. While that’s a drop from a few years ago, it still remains a vital market.

Right now, al-Falih looks at the comment as a campaign promise, which tend to fall by the wayside after elections. However, playing politics with oil before helped caused the 1973 oil embargo that forever changed the oil market, so gaining some historical perspective might be valuable for Trump.

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