Before Russia announced a cease fire in their price-war with the Arabs, President Trump gave Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman an attention-grabbingly harsh ultimatum. The Saudis blinked. It’s no wonder that President Trump looks so tired lately. Not only is he leading the nation through one of the worst global disasters in history, he spent the last month working behind the scenes to stare down Saudi Arabia. We knew there was a “landmark global deal,” but we’re only learning why now.
President delivers a harsh ultimatum to the Arabs
On April 2, Trump got the Saudi Crown Prince on the phone to issue a stunningly harsh ultimatum. Instead of wasting time on diplomacy, Trump laid it on the line. He told the prince, If OPEC didn’t close the valve on the excessive flood of oil, then he would allow Congress to pull our troops out of the kingdom, which they’ve been wanting to do for years.
One “senior U.S. official” relates that Trump said, “there would be no way to stop the U.S. Congress from imposing restrictions that could lead to a withdrawal of U.S. forces.” The argument basically boils down to, “we are defending your industry while you’re destroying ours.” Only a week before the call, Senators Kevin Cramer and Dan Sullivan sponsored a bill “to remove all U.S. troops, Patriot missiles and anti-missile defense systems from the kingdom unless Saudi Arabia cut oil output.”
According to a diplomatic source, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was so furious when he heard the ultimatum that “he ordered his aides out of the room so he could continue the discussion in private.” Ten days later, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries announced production cuts. Demand for oil collapsed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and worldwide lockdowns. The administration needs to protect our domestic oil industry from what Reuters calls the “historic price meltdown.”
President Trump simply ‘mediated’
Entire countries are closed for business while we all fight the virus. It’s interesting that America is now angry at the Arabs for producing cheap oil, after decades of begging them to produce more. When we were totally reliant on them, OPEC trickled it out. Now that we produce our own, they flooded the market to squeeze us back out.
At his daily coronavirus briefing, President Trump downplayed his ultimatum, noting that the prince knew that continued production wasn’t feasible. He also credited Vladimir Putin for his role in the negotiations. “I thought he and President Putin, Vladimir Putin, were very reasonable,” Trump notes. “They knew they had a problem, and then this happened.”
Trump says all he did was mediate. “They were having a hard time making a deal. And I met telephonically with him, and we were able to reach a deal.” Saudi Arabia is scrambling to get the word out they didn’t cave in all by themselves, “the agreement represented the will of all countries in the so-called OPEC+ group of oil-producing nations,” the Saudi media office reports.
“Saudi Arabia, the United States and Russia have played an important role in the OPEC+ oil cut agreement, but without the cooperation of the 23 countries who took part in the agreement, it would not have happened.” Trumps ultimatum led to a global agreement which is being reported as “the largest production cut ever negotiated.”