'US President Donald Trump has admitted that the US only keeps its troops in the Middle East to protect Israel.
In an interview with the Washington Post yesterday, Trump explained that he would not withdraw US troops from the region because of the need to support Israel, despite the fact that other US concerns such as oil were no longer sufficient reason to remain. Trump told the Post:
Now, are we going to stay in that part of the world [the Middle East]? One reason to is Israel. Oil is becoming less and less of a reason because we’re producing more oil now than we’ve ever produced. So, you know, all of a sudden it gets to a point where you don’t have to stay there.
Trump’s comments have been interpreted as referring specifically to Saudi Arabia – one of the US’ main oil providers and increasingly an Israeli ally – with the Times of Israel suggesting the president “appear[s] to envision a world where the US would be less beholden to Saudi Arabia”.
This triangular relationship between the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia has been forefront in Trump’s decision-making in recent weeks. Last week, Trump suggested that Israel would face severe difficulties without the presence of Saudi Arabia, saying: “The fact is that Saudi Arabia is tremendously helpful in the Middle East, if we didn’t have Saudi Arabia we wouldn’t have a big base [and] Israel would be in big trouble”. Also last week, Trump thanked Saudi Arabia for lowering oil prices, stressing the US would remain a “steadfast partner” of the kingdom and not allow the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi to harm US-Saudi relations or weaken Israel.'
Read more: Trump: US troops will stay in Middle East to protect Israel