United States presidential candidate Donald Trump has said that – if elected – he might consider halting the purchase of oil from Saudi Arabia if the Kingdom does not commit ground troops to the US-led fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Speaking to The New York Times on foreign policy, the Republican front-runner said Saudi must “reimburse” the US for all the support it receives to maintain stability in the Middle East.
“We’re not being reimbursed for the kind of tremendous service that we’re performing by protecting various countries. Now Saudi Arabia’s one of them,” he said.
“If Saudi Arabia was without the cloak of American protection, I don’t think it would be around.”
According to Trump, several Arab allies look to the US to defend the Middle East without putting their own troops at risk.
“We defend everybody. When in doubt, come to the United States. We’ll defend you. In some cases free of charge.”
Trump described the US as a “poor debtor nation that disproportionately funded” international alliances and held lopsided relationships with allies such as Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia.
“We have been disrespected, mocked and ripped off for many many years by people that were smarter, shrewder, tougher,” he said.
“So America first, yes, we will not be ripped off anymore. We’re going to be friendly with everybody, but we’re not going to be taken advantage of by anybody,” he added.
Trump already shares a rocky relationship with the Middle East – and especially the Gulf region – because of his controversial comments on Muslims.
Earlier this month, the deputy chairman of police and general security in Dubai Dhahi Khalfan Tamim warned that a "clash of civilizations" could be expected if the US Republican candidate won the election.
Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has previously called Trump a “disgrace” to his country while Dubai-based businessman Khalaf Al Habtoor also labeled the American tycoon “Islam’s biggest enemy”.
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