In an interview with Bloomberg, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud spoke on a wide range of topics, from his relationship with US president Donald Trump, his commitment to IPO Aramco, plans to invest a further $45 billion in Softbank, energy markets and the recent arrests in the kingdom.
Saudi-US historic relationship
In his interview with Bloomberg, replying to a question about Trump remark that Saudi Arabia would not last two weeks without the US, the crown prince said: “Saudi Arabia was there before the United States of America. It’s there since 1744, I believe more than 30 years before the United States of America."
He added: “I believe, and I’m sorry if anyone misunderstands that, but I believe President Obama, in his eight years, he worked against many of our agenda – not in Saudi Arabia, but also in the Middle East. And even though the US worked against our agenda we were able to protect our interests. And the end result is that we succeeded, and the United States of America under the leadership of President Obama failed, for example in Egypt. So Saudi Arabia needs something like around 2,000 years to maybe face some dangers. So I believe this is not accurate.”
The crown prince replying to another question whether he does not mind Trump saying these incredibly rude things about the kingdom, he said: “Well, you know, you have to accept that any friend will say good things and bad things. So you cannot have 100 percent friends saying good things about you, even in your family. You will have some misunderstandings. So we put that in that category.”
Also read: Aramco IPO by 2021, says Saudi Crown Prince
As to a question related to the Saudi rift with both Germany and Canada and that their stances were less rude toward the kingdom, the crown prince replied by saying: “It’s totally different. Canada, they gave an order to Saudi Arabia on an internal issue. It’s not an opinion of Canada about Saudi Arabia as much as they are giving an order to a different country. So we believe this is a totally different issue. Trump is speaking to his own people inside the United States of America about an issue. And you’ve got the answer now from me.”
The crown prince further clarified the kingdom’s stance when it comes for providing for its security, in reference to Trump recent remarks, saying: “Actually we will pay nothing for our security. We believe that all the armaments we have from the United States of America are paid for, it’s not free armament. So ever since the relationship started between Saudi Arabia and the United States of America, we’ve bought everything with money. Before two years ago, we had a strategy to shift most of our armament to other countries.”
He added: “But when President Trump became president, we’ve changed our armament strategy again for the next 10 years to put more than 60 percent with the United States of America. That’s why we’ve created the $400 billion in opportunities, armaments and investment opportunities, and other trade opportunities. So this is a good achievement for President Trump, for Saudi Arabia. Also included in these agreements are that part of these armaments will be manufactured in Saudi Arabia, so it will create jobs in America and Saudi Arabia, good trade, good benefits for both countries and also good economic growth. Plus, it will help our security.”
Saudi Arabia, US achieved a lot in the Middle East
Saudi Arabia’s crown prince confirmed in response to a question related to whether his relationship with Trump is in good shape and that US-Saudi relations are just as good now as they were 24 hours ago following Trump remarks, he said: “Yes of course. If you look at the picture overall, you have 99 percent of good things and one bad issue…One percent. I love working with him (Trump) I really like working with him and we have achieved a lot in the Middle East, especially against extremism, extremist ideologies, terrorism and Da’esh [Arabic acronym for ISIS] disappeared in a very short time in Iraq and Syria, and a lot of extremist narratives have been demolished in the past two years, so this is a strong initiative.”
He added: “We worked together also, together with more than 50 countries, to agree on one goal in the Middle East and most of those countries are going through with that strategy. Now we are pushing back against extremists and terrorists and Iran’s negative moves in the Middle East in a good way. We have huge investments between both countries. We have good improvement in our trade – a lot of achievements, so this is really great.”
We are committed to make sure there is no shortage of oil supply
Regarding President Donald Trump’s calls for a lower oil prices under the $80 per barrel, Saudi crown prince said: “We never in the history of Saudi Arabia decided that this is the right or wrong oil price. The oil price depends on trade– consumer and supplier – and they decide the oil price based on trade and supply and demand. What we are committed in Saudi Arabia is to make sure there is no shortage of supply. So we work with our allies in OPEC and also non-OPEC countries to be sure that we have a sustainable supply of oil and there is no shortage and that there is good demand, that it will not create problems for the consumers and their plans and development.”
As for President Donald Trump’s calls for a lower oil prices Saudi crown prince said: “We never in the history of Saudi Arabia decided that this is the right or wrong oil price. The oil price depends on trade– consumer and supplier – and they decide the oil price based on trade and supply and demand. What we are committed in Saudi Arabia is to make sure there is no shortage of supply. So we work with our allies in OPEC and also non-OPEC countries to be sure that we have a sustainable supply of oil and there is no shortage and that there is good demand, that it will not create problems for the consumers and their plans and development.”
Mohammad bin Salman further clarified in response to Bloomberg question whether if President Trump has made a specific request about oil, saying: “Yes, actually the request that America made to Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries is to be sure that if there is any loss of supply from Iran, that we will supply that. And that happened. Because recently, Iran reduced their exports by 700,000 barrels a day, if I’m not mistaken. And Saudi Arabia and OPEC and non-OPEC countries, they’ve produced 1.5 million barrels a day. So we export as much as 2 barrels for any barrel that disappeared from Iran recently. So we did our job and more.”
He added: “We believe the higher price that we have in the last month, it’s not because of Iran. It’s mostly because of things happening in Canada, and Mexico, Libya, Venezuela and other countries that moved the price a little bit higher. But Iran, definitely no. Because they reduced 700,000 barrels and we’ve exported more than 1.5 million barrels a day.”
Saudi crown prince revealed that the kingdom is producing currently around 10.7 million oil barrel per day, while for the next few months he said: “We have spare capacity of 1.3 million without any investment. So in Saudi Arabia we have 1.3 million to go if the market needs that. And with other OPEC countries and non-OPEC countries we believe we have more than that, a little bit more than that. And of course there is opportunity for investment in the next three to five years.”
Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman, answering Bloomberg question regarding his recent discussions with the Kuwaiti Emir about reactivating oil production in the neutral zone, he said: “Actually the 1.3 million is capacity that we have today, without that opportunity in Kuwait. So we believe that we are almost close to having something with Kuwait. There are only small issues that have been stuck there for the last 50 years. The Kuwaiti side, they want to fix it today, before we continue to produce in that area.”
He clarified that: “It’s part of the sovereignty issues that are stuck, unsolved, between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for the past 50 years. And they want to fix it now before we continue to produce from that area. We think a 50-year-old issue is almost impossible to fix in a few weeks. So we’re trying to have an agreement with the Kuwaitis to continue to produce for the next five to 10 years and at the same time, we work on the sovereignty issues.”
Saudi crown prince expressed hope that this will be resolve saying: “We are ready in Saudi Arabia, and now we’re working with the Kuwaitis. We believe we can have something soon. We’re trying to convince the Kuwaitis to talk about the sovereignty issues, while continuing to produce until we solve that issue.
He said: “The leadership of Kuwait really wants to move on that. We think that in just one department there, they want to hold to the sovereignty issues before we move any further. The other department in Kuwait, they are supportive of what we are trying to say. It’s good for Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, so I believe it’s a matter of time until it’s solved.”