Trump’s Threat to Stop Buying Saudi Oil Sparks Debate in Gulf States

File picture dated 19 January 2004 shows Iraqi workers turning valves at the Shirawa oilfield, where oil was first pumped in Iraq in 1927, outside the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk.

TEL AVIV – Donald Trump’s pledge to stop purchasing Saudi oil unless Riyadh sends ground troops to fight the Islamic State has sparked a broad range of reactions in the Persian Gulf, ranging from apprehension to derision.

Gulf Affairs magazine says Trump’s statement is attempted extortion.

“He just wants Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries to launch an offensive against IS with boots on the ground,” the magazine contended in an article titled, “What’s Behind Trump’s Threat.”

“The dangerous thing is that Trump won’t stop at oil – he will use the aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman, the American bases in the Gulf, and arms transactions as leverage, while these countries fight Iran on several fronts,” the article said.

“Trump’s remarks point to a grave failure in the Gulf States’ strategic planning, which means creating a deterrent power and varied sources for arms supply and reduction of dependency on American bases and aircraft carriers, because Trump’s next threat could be pulling out the aircraft carrier Harry S Truman, which guarantees the security of maritime trade in the area.”

Saudi social media was also impressed by the candidate’s pledge.

“Saudi Arabia produces 12 million barrels daily,” tweeted Abdullah. “America’s share is one million.”

Hakim was more pragmatic: “The problem is that if America stops buying Saudi oil, the entire West will follow suit. They will then go to Iran.”

Mohamed Alkhawlani was equally critical of Trump and Saudi Arabia: “Look to what lengths Saudi Arabia can go to humiliate itself, to see this madman threatening her. How can the Saudis fight an organization that they themselves created?”

“That madman may well be the president of the United States,” replied Murad. “Who will dare talk to him then?”

“That man’s rhetoric is frightening,” warned Silver Shark. “He will destroy the world and burn it down if he becomes president, just like Emperor Nero did to Rome.”

Speaking to the New York Times last week, Trump replied “the answer is probably yes,” when asked whether he would halt U.S. oil purchases from Gulf countries if they did not participate in the military campaign against IS. “We protect countries, and take tremendous monetary hits on protecting countries. That would include Saudi Arabia, but it would include many other countries, as you know. We have, there’s a whole big list of them. We lose, everywhere. We lose monetarily, everywhere.”

“And yet, without us, Saudi Arabia wouldn’t exist for very long,” Trump continued. “It would be, you know, a catastrophic failure without our protection.”