Our great and glorious ally Saudi Arabia has fallen on hard times. The coronavirus has arrived in the desert kingdom, prompting its government to take emergency measures and sending its economy into a tailspin. Vision 2030, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ambitious plan to turn his country into Tomorrowland, has either, depending on who you check, hit a speed bump or crashed headlong into a wall.
Perhaps most ominous of all, though, the recent Saudi-Russian economic war, which at one point turned the price of oil negative, has sparked unrest in the Saudi heartland, by which we mean the GOP. As Daniel Larison has pointed out, Senator Ted Cruz, normally prostrate in front of the Saudis, criticized them publicly in recent weeks. He wasn’t alone: other GOP senators, many from oil-rich states, threatened to impose tariffs and sanctions on Riyadh. And according to Reuters, Donald Trump called the crown prince himself and threatened to withdraw military support unless the price war ended. The message was summed up by one American official: “We are defending your industry while you’re destroying ours.”
And doesn’t that just sum up the entire U.S.-Saudi relationship.