08:52 GMT05 July 2020
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    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has met with King Salman, thanking him Riyadh's commitment to a "thorough, transparent, and timely investigation" into the disappearance of opposition journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Speaking to Sputnik, a veteran Middle East specialist explained why the current tensions won't lead to a Saudi-Canadian-style spat.

    In the wake the tense atmosphere between Washington and Riyadh over Khashoggi, Saudi-owned TV channel Al Arabiya ran an op-ed on its Arab-language website threatening a series of steps in retaliation to any possible US sanctions. 

    Recalling that President Trump has already complained about oil prices of $80 a barrel, the op-ed warned that it could not be ruled out for prices to "jump to $100 or $200 dollars, and perhaps double that." It added that the kingdom may decide to price its oil in yuan instead of the dollar, with catastrophic implications for the de-facto world currency. The article also threatened to liquidate its $800 billion-worth of assets in the US and deprive it of access to its oil market.

    Furthermore, the op-ed warned that the close cooperation between Riyadh, Washington and the West on intelligence might "become a thing of the past," subjecting millions of Westerns to the threat of terrorism.

    "The imposition of sanctions of any kind" could even push Riyadh to turn to Russia or China for its security needs, the op-ed stressed, and could even result in a reconciliation with Hamas, Hezbollah, and even Iran.

    Commenting on the dire scenario outlined in the al Arabiya piece, Grigory Kosach, a veteran historian and professor of Middle East Studies at the Russian State University for the Humanities, suggested that "apocalyptic scenarios" aside, Riyadh probably isn't going to do anything close to the scenarios outlined in the op-ed.

    "Saudi Arabia understands perfectly well that it would not be sensible to act the same way toward the US as they have toward Sweden, Germany, and more recently, Canada. Generally, the Saudi press contains simply apocalyptic scenarios on how things may unfold," Kosach explained, speaking to Sputnik France.

    "I doubt that the US, on the one hand, will move to sharply aggravate relations with the Kingdom. And on the other, I doubt that Riyadh will take drastic steps against the United States. For the Saudis, Trump is like a breath of fresh air. When Obama's second term was nearing its conclusion, the Saudi press wrote openly that it could not wait for it to end, and that anyone would be better than Obama," the academic added.

    Trump, Kosach recalled, quickly became the Saudis' best friend, demonstratively paying his first official visit abroad as president to the Kingdom, signing huge commercial and defense contracts, and announcing a new strategy aimed against Tehran, withdrawing the US from the Iran nuclear deal.

    "All of this has been important for the Kingdom. If Trump is compelled to take some measures, it won't amount to anything drastic, I think, nor will it face a sharp reaction from Riyadh. In other words, the matter will not come down to any apocalyptic scenario. This is not Sweden, Germany or Canada, with whom Riyadh has minimal economic ties," Kosach concluded.

    Saudi opposition journalist Jamal Khashoggi went missing on October 2. He was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain a marriage document. Turkish authorities have alleged that Khashoggi may have been arrested or even killed inside the diplomatic compound. Riyadh has vehemently denied these charges, and insisted that he left the building later the same day. Turkish police conducted a search of the Saudi diplomatic mission in Istanbul on Monday.

    The views expressed by Grigory Kosach are those of the speaker, and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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