On October 14th, Saudi Arabia vowed to retaliate to any possible economic sanctions undertaken by other countries, after US President Donald Trump warned of “severe punishment” over the disappearance and suspected murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Preceding the Saudi response, Trump spoke in an interview saying that the Arabic country faces strong consequences if they are involved in the disappearance and murder.
“There’s something really terrible and disgusting about that, if that was the case, so we’re going to have to see,” Trump said. “We’re going to get to the bottom of it, and there will be severe punishment.”
He did, however, also say that the US would be “punishing” itself if any arms sales deals are cancelled with Saudi Arabia. He said that the weapons deals are a “tremendous order” for US companies and that the Saudis would get it elsewhere if not from the US.
In a statement published by the state-run Saudi Press Agency, the kingdom warned that if it “receives any action, it will respond with greater action, and that the kingdom’s economy has an influential and vital role in the global economy.”
“The kingdom affirms its total rejection of any threats and attempts to undermine it, whether by threatening to impose economic sanctions, using political pressures or repeating false accusations,” the statement said.
No retaliatory actions were specified, however the general manager of the Saudi-owned al-Arabiya news network suggested that Saudi Arabia could use its oil production as a weapon. “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,” Turki Aldakhil wrote. Ahead of the incoming mid-term elections in the US, it would not be good for Trump if oil prices were to skyrocket, because it would reflect on gasoline prices in the US.
Saudi’s ministry of foreign affairs tweeted that it was “steadfast and glorious” in response to what it called “false accusations.” It added:” Demise is the outcome of these weak endeavors.”
It is possible and very likely that despite strong formal rhetoric towards Saudi Arabia, the US won’t undertake any sanctions against one of its key allies in the Middle East. It would be similar to how the US supports Israel.
The US-Saudi relationship situation is also apparent in the Yemen conflict. The Saudi-led coalition is supported by the US. Both US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis both expressed their support of the intervention. That is all despite condemnations by the UN and the wider international community of the wide-scale humanitarian crisis that the Saudi-led intervention has led to in Yemen. There are signs of the beginning of a famine, due to blockade and constant attacks of Saudi and allied forces. In August, Saudi jet fighters struck a bus, killing 40 children. The bomb was supplied by the US, there was evidence in the debris. Initially the Senators condemned the incident. However, the US stance on the issue was that Saudi Arabia is making steps towards upholding human rights and assuming responsibility for the bus attack was a step towards that.
Furthermore, Washington blamed the conflict in Yemen on Iran, which has limited involvement in the country. Iran possess limited resources and they are spent in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, more than anywhere else.
Following the Saudi vow, Britain, France and Germany released a joint statement saying that they were treating the case of the missing journalist with “the utmost seriousness.” The foreign ministers of the three countries demanded an investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance and possible likely murder and called for a “detailed response” from the Arabic country.
The Turkish outlet Sabah also reported that Jamal supposedly turned on his Apple Watch’s recording functions before entering the consulate. Following that, the circumstances of his “interrogation, torture and killing” were sent to his iPhone which was outside with his fiancée.