Saudi officials said they may retaliate against the US, if Washington delivers on a threat to impose sanctions over the disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Turki Aldakhil, the General Manager of the Saudi international news network Al Arabiya, said Riyadh was considering some 30 moves that it may take in response to possible sanctions, and many of those he mentions seem pretty harsh.
In an op-ed published on Sunday, the insider said Saudi influence on the oil market alone puts it into position to badly hurt American interests. “If the price of oil reaching $80 angered President Trump, no one should rule out the price jumping to $100, or $200, or even double that figure,” he wrote, adding that Riyadh may start pricing its crude in Chinese yuan rather than US dollar, dealing a blow to its status as a world reserve currency.
The Saudis may make a geostrategic turn away from the US and towards its rival: China, Russia and Iran, Aldakhil added. “No one can deny that repercussions of these sanctions will include a Russian military base in Tabuk,” he said, referring to Saudi Arabia’s northwestern province located in a strategically valuable place near the Red Sea with its trade routes as well as Israel and Jordan.
As part of its possible rapprochement with Iran, Saudi Arabia would see “Hamas and Hezbollah have turned from enemies into friends” while at the same time stop exchanging intelligence with the US and its allies. At the moment information from the Saudis is contributing to the “protection of millions of Westerners,” he stressed.
Of course Saudi Arabia will no longer buy weapons from US manufacturers if sanctions are given the green light, Aldakhil predicted, adding that this would reduce foreign sales of US defense contractors by two thirds. American firms will also be barred from the Saudi markets, he added.
“These are simple procedures that are part of over 30 others that Riyadh will implement directly, without flinching an eye if sanctions are imposed on it, according to Saudi sources who are close to the decision-makers,” the report said.
Riyadh has “many, many cards” to play if it’s forced to retaliate against US sanctions, but tampering with the price of oil, which could upset the global economy, is “out of the question,” Ahmed Alibrahim, an analyst on Saudi Arabia, told RT.
Instead, Saudi Arabia will likely rely upon its strong influence in the Islamic and Arab worlds, Alibrahim said, noting that the country is “the face of 1.8 billion Muslims.”
He also suggested that Riyadh could start to do business with other countries if the US chooses to halt arms sales.
“If nobody wants to sell us weapons, the market is huge. Probably if we get, for example, weapons from Russia, it will be more advanced than the weapons released by Congress to Saudi Arabia.”
Saudi Arabia came under fire after Turkish officials accused it of murdering Khashoggi, a self-exiled critic of the current Saudi leadership, during a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Riyadh is denying the allegations, but has so far claimed to provide any evidence of the journalist freely leaving the diplomatic mission. US President Donald Trump said the Saudis would face “severe punishment” if the alleged crime is confirmed, but indicated his reluctance to act due to multi-billion arms deals with the kingdom.