Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia
Sir, – Tradition dictates that this week the US president pardons a Thanksgiving turkey. Clearly though, such a gesture offers little in the way of business opportunities for oneself, or one’s family. Perhaps in his attitude to the Saudi crown prince, Mr Trump has found his own version of the traditional show of mercy. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Donald Trump grossly exaggerates the value of Saudi Arabia’s trade with the US (“Trump defends Saudi crown prince over Khashoggi killing”, November 20th).
He claims, in an extraordinary presidential statement, that “$110 billion will be spent on the purchase of military equipment”. But according to a report by the Washington thinktank the Centre for International Policy, the value of US arms sales to Riyadh since Trump took office is so far a mere $14.5 billion. Earlier, he also said that Saudi arms deals would generate hundreds of thousands of American jobs. More sober assessments suggest the figure is something like 17,500 jobs a year.
Mr Trump insists he will always follow a Saudi policy that is “consistent with the absolute security and safety of America”. However, there might also be personal financial reasons why he refuses to unequivocally condemn the House of Saud over the Khashoggi murder. For example, Saudi block bookings have recently helped turn around flagging revenues at Trump’s International Hotel and Tower in New York City.
As ever, the US president’s decisions may be less about prioritising the American people and more about putting “Trump first!” – Yours, etc,