Saudi state owned Al-Arabiya news channel delivered a bullish message to the US and the international community in response to growing calls for sanctions against Riyadh over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“US sanctions on Riyadh would mean Washington is stabbing itself,” said the general manager of the Dubai based Al-Arabiya news channel, Turki Aldakhil. Writing in an op-ed yesterday, Aldakhil suggested that the Russians and Iranians will exploit the vacuum while the West would suffer economically due an astronomical rise in oil price, which he said could increase to as much as $200 a barrel.
“If US sanctions are imposed on Saudi Arabia, we will be facing an economic disaster that would rock the entire world,” said Aldakhil. “It would lead to Saudi Arabia’s failure to commit to producing 7.5 million barrels”. Pointing out that US President Donald Trump had expressed anger after oil reached $80 a barrel, he asked readers to imagine what it would be like if it oil jumped to “$100, or $200, or even double that figure”.
Describing the geo-political scenario in the aftermath of a US-led sanctions against the kingdom, Aldakhil painted an image that may play heavily on the minds of western politicians. “Imposing any type of sanctions on Saudi Arabia by the West will cause the kingdom to resort to other options,” he said. Pointing out that Russia and China were ready to step in, he added that “no one can deny that repercussions of these sanctions will include a Russian military base in Tabuk, northwest of Saudi Arabia, in the heated four corners of Syria, Israel, Lebanon and Iraq”.
Aldakhil pointed out that due the economic muscle of Saudi Arabia, which is the destination of ten per cent of the weapons manufactured in the US and is one of the top 20 economies, Riyadh will have as many as 30 different options “without flinching an eye if sanctions are imposed on it”.
Trump so far has dismissed calls for sanctions against Riyadh despite growing pressure on the US to take a strong stance against one of its most trusted allies in the Middle East. However, over the weekend Trump vowed “severe punishment” for the Saudis if Khashoggi was found to have been murdered. Speaking to CBS he said that there were things the US could do that “are very, very powerful, very strong and we’ll do them,” without specifying what those things might be.
Saudi Arabia has also gone on the front foot by rejecting threats to punish it over the disappearance of Khashoggi in Istanbul, saying the kingdom would retaliate against any sanctions with tougher measures, the official state news agency said yesterday.