Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, underlined the security of Saudi Arabia, while dismissing recent comments made by US President Donald Trump against the Kingdom.
In a lengthy interview with Bloomberg published on Friday, Prince Mohammed said: “Saudi Arabia was there before the United States. It’s there since 1744, I believe more than 30 years before the United States. And I believe, and I’m sorry if anyone misunderstands that, but I believe President Obama, in his eight years, he worked against many of our agenda – not in Saudi Arabia, but also in the Middle East.
“And even though the US worked against our agenda we were able to protect our interests. And the end result is that we succeeded, and the United States under the leadership of President Obama failed, for example in Egypt.
“So Saudi Arabia needs something like around 2,000 years to maybe face some dangers. So I believe this is not accurate.”
On Trump’s comments, Prince Mohammed remarked: “You have to accept that any friend will say good things and bad things. So, you cannot have 100 percent friends saying good things about you, even in your family. You will have some misunderstandings. So, we put that in that category.”
Addressing Saudi Arabia’s rift with Canada, he noted that Ottawa “gave an order to Saudi Arabia on an internal issue. It’s not an opinion of Canada about Saudi Arabia as much as they are giving an order to a different country.”
On the Kingdom’s security and Trump’s opinion that it should pay for it, Prince Mohammed said: “We will pay nothing for our security. We believe that all the armaments we have from the US are paid for, it’s not free armament.
“Ever since the relationship started between Saudi Arabia and the US, we’ve bought everything with money. Before two years ago, we had a strategy to shift most of our armament to other countries, but when Trump became president, we’ve changed our armament strategy again for the next 10 years to put more than 60 percent with the US.
“That’s why we’ve created the $400 billion in opportunities, armaments and investment opportunities, and other trade opportunities. So, this is a good achievement for Trump, for Saudi Arabia. Also included in these agreements are that part of these armaments will be manufactured in Saudi Arabia, so it will create jobs in America and Saudi Arabia, good trade, good benefits for both countries and also good economic growth. Plus, it will help our security.”
On his relations with Trump, Prince Mohammed said: “I love working with him. We have achieved a lot in the Middle East, especially against extremism, extremist ideologies, terrorism and ISIS disappeared in a very short time in Iraq and Syria, and a lot of extremist narratives have been demolished in the past two years, so this is a strong initiative.”
“We worked together also, together with more than 50 countries, to agree on one goal in the Middle East and most of those countries are going through with that strategy. Now we are pushing back against extremists and terrorists and Iran’s negative moves in the Middle East in a good way. We have huge investments between both countries. We have good improvement in our trade – a lot of achievements, so this is really great.”
Commenting on Trump’s complaint over oil prices, Prince Mohammed said: “We never in the history of Saudi Arabia decided that this is the right or wrong oil price. The oil price depends on trade – consumer and supplier – and they decide the oil price based on trade and supply and demand. What we are committed in Saudi Arabia is to make sure there is no shortage of supply.”
“So, we work with our allies in OPEC and also non-OPEC countries to be sure that we have a sustainable supply of oil and there is no shortage and that there is good demand, that it will not create problems for the consumers and their plans and development.
“The request that the US made to Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries is to be sure that if there is any loss of supply from Iran, that we will supply that. And that happened. Because recently, Iran reduced their exports by 700,000 barrels a day, if I’m not mistaken. And Saudi Arabia and OPEC and non-OPEC countries, they’ve produced 1.5 million barrels a day. So, we export as much as two barrels for any barrel that disappeared from Iran recently. So, we did our job and more.
“We believe the higher price that we have in the last month, it’s not because of Iran. It’s mostly because of things happening in Canada, and Mexico, Libya, Venezuela and other countries that moved the price a little bit higher. But Iran, definitely no.
“We have spare capacity of 1.3 million without any investment. So, in Saudi Arabia we have 1.3 million to go if the market needs that. And with other OPEC countries and non-OPEC countries we believe we have more than that, a little bit more than that. And of course, there is opportunity for investment in the next three to five years.”
Asked about reactivating production in the neutral zone with Kuwait, Prince Mohammed replied: “Actually the 1.3 million is capacity that we have today, without that opportunity in Kuwait. So, we believe that we are almost close to having something with Kuwait. There are only small issues that have been stuck there for the last 50 years. The Kuwaiti side, they want to fix it today, before we continue to produce in that area.
“It’s part of the sovereignty issues that are stuck, unsolved, between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for the past 50 years. And they want to fix it now before we continue to produce from that area. We think a 50-year-old issue is almost impossible to fix in a few weeks. So, we’re trying to have an agreement with the Kuwaitis to continue to produce for the next five to 10 years and at the same time, we work on the sovereignty issues.
“We are ready in Saudi Arabia, and now we’re working with the Kuwaitis. We believe we can have something soon. We’re trying to convince the Kuwaitis to talk about the sovereignty issues, while continuing to produce until we solve that issue.”