Sputnik discussed the timing of Trump's comment with Abdulaziz Alghashian, a Middle East expert and PhD researcher of international relations and the politics of the Middle East at Essex University.
Sputnik: What do you think about the timing of the comment? Why is President Trump ratcheting up his rhetoric now?
Abdulaziz Alghashian: In terms of the timing, this is something that is not surprising because his rhetoric is always going to be amped up whenever he talks to any kind of domestic audience.
Not only that, his supporters are starting to dwindle now. He's losing his core supporters that he gained in 2016 and this was one of the ways of trying to adhere to one of the core themes that he had in his campaign, which was: "I'm going to bring money back to you, and I'm going to bring this, and I'm going to make America great again."
Saudi Arabia, to be honest, for him is an easy target because they do have money and not only that, this is not familiar with Donald Trump‘s rhetoric, he said this before his presidential campaign, before he was even doing his presidential campaign, he did this in the early 2000‘s and he was just talking about a group of people, so that's his limited understanding of Saudi Arabia, but I think it's just trying to preserve whatever core supporters he has, because he's very much losing support from them and I think that's the timing.
Sputnik: Some analysts have been linking the comments with Prince Salman's recent refusal to keep oil prices down; would you agree with this at all?
Abdulaziz Alghashian: Yes, I do. It's funny you say that because when I said that he mentioned this before, that the Saudis wouldn't last, and his rhetoric towards Saudi Arabia, it was about oil prices then.
They see eye-to-eye on many things, the Trump administration and the Crown Prince right now, and they have the same understanding of Iran. However, one of the things that they don't agree on is oil prices, and, of course, Saudi Arabia has faced a significant problem with the decrease of oil prices and that's not something Saudi Arabia wants, even though it's trying to move away from that foundation to its economy, it is trying to, as the Crown Prince said, to "decrease its addiction to oil" and that's the struggle, it's very much convenient for the United States to have low oil prices while Saudi Arabia is trying to raise it, and that's the area where they're having disagreements.
Sputnik: Tehran, of course, commented saying that Trump was humiliating the Saudis and even called on Riyadh to jointly boost regional security and not outsource it, what's your take on these comments from Saud Arabia‘s regional rival?
Abdulaziz Alghashian: I found that very interesting, but it does indicate very significant things I think happening in the region and as well as internationally.
But Saudi Arabia is not going to fall for that, and I don't think Saudi Arabia will reciprocate this extending of the hand. Saudi Arabia for a very long time has wanted the US administration to be on the same sheet with it on Iran and I don't think this spat between Saudi Arabia and the United States will change Saudi Arabia‘s policy towards Iran.
Sputnik: Finally I wanted to ask you about the Arab NATO plan the US is reportedly advancing. Firstly, how likely is it that this idea is going to be put into practice? Could Trump's comments have any impact? And what it means regarding Iran's influence in the region, which seems to be growing?
Abdulaziz Alghashian: I think its influence is definitely growing. Although, it does feel the pressure, and I think the main pressure that Iran faces is within. When it comes to these comments, I think what is very fascinating is that maybe this is just part of a growing discourse and separation between the United States and the European nations of NATO.
I do find that very difficult, obviously, international relations in the Arab world are always viewed with a lot of suspicion, alliances always change, dramatically sometimes, and I think such a vision is going to be very difficult to implement, to be honest, so that's my take on that.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.