Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is on his first visit to the United States since becoming crown prince.
Saudi Arabia and the US have both maintained a baseline of economic and security cooperation that has kept ties between them strong. However, during the final years of the Obama administration, relations between the two nations had undergone a period of differences, but under the Trump administration, relations have warmed and the US is fully supporting Saudi Arabia in its regional role. That was apparent especially during the visit that Mohammed bin Salman made to Washington, D.C. last summer. That visit laid the groundwork for Donald Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia last year on May 20. It was the first nation Trump visited after becoming President of the United States. That trip signaled the Trump administration’s acknowledgement of Saudi Arabia as a crucial US strategic partner in maintaining stability in the Middle East and economic security worldwide. In line with Saudi Arabia’s position, Trump has opposed the Iran nuclear deal and it looks increasingly likely that he will pull the US out of the arrangement.
In addition to growing the Saudi-US relationship at the highest levels, the Crown Prince has been reaching out not only to the American people but worldwide. A 60 Minutes interview on the eve of his US trip showed Mohammed bin Salman to be transparent, self-confident and strong in his thoughts.
The 60 Minutes interview with the Crown Prince touched on many topics including human rights, financial corruption, the war in Yemen, Iranian ideology and Muslim extremists. Mohammed bin Salman discussed these controversial subjects in a rational fashion, without being defensive or apologizing for national differences. Conversely, he addressed remarkable resolutions and the needed correction to recalibrate Saudi economy and expand social norms without compromising on religious values. He simply explained his perspective, the Saudi perspective. This bodes well for the Kingdom’s future relationships with the US and nations around the world.
Even if the shale oil revolution has made the US among the top oil producers globally along with Saudi Arabia and Russia, and changed the dynamics of the US’ relationship with major oil producers, Saudi-US business relationships remain solid. There are still massive exchanges in trade and value-added services. Now the relationship is focused less on dependency and more on mutual cooperation.
Mohammed bin Salman illustratively showed the transformation that Saudi Arabia is undergoing with its ambitious Vision 2030 that will advance Saudi Arabia’s ranking among the top G-20 economies.
Dr. Faisal Mrza
Energy and Oil Marketing Adviser (Former OPEC / Saudi Aramco)