'Washington — In a recent interview with the Washington Post, U.S. President Donald Trump publicly stated that his administration’s Middle East policy – including the illegal U.S. military occupation of nearly a third of Syria, the administration’s adoption of aggressive Iranian sanctions, and Trump’s response to murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi — is not driven by his country’s interest in oil but instead to benefit the interests of the state of Israel.
Trump made the comment when asked by Post reporter Josh Dawsey about whether or not he supports tougher sanctions against the Saudi government for allegedly being responsible for the death of Khashoggi in early October. Trump responded by stating that he would “listen” to those calling for increased sanctions and then adding that the Middle East is a “dangerous, rough part of the world.” Trump continued, stating that Saudi Arabia has been a “great ally,” adding that “without them, Israel would be in a lot more trouble. We need to have a counterbalance to Iran.”
Trump’s statements here seem to support the claims made in recent reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was responsible for Trump’s decision to stand by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) during the fall-out from Khashoggi’s death, which several governments and U.S. intelligence have claimed was planned in advance with MBS’ approval. Netanyahu told the White House that MBS was a “strategic ally” and should be supported regardless of his alleged involvement in the death of the former Post columnist at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
However, as Trump continued to discuss the region, he revealed that Israel is not just the
reason for his continued support for the Saudi government despite the fallout from Khashoggi’s death but also the reason why the U.S. continues to be so heavily involved in the region. He stated:
It’s very important to have Saudi Arabia as an ally, if we’re going to stay in that part of the world. Now, are we going to stay in that part of the world? 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.”
In this statement, Trump makes the case that the U.S. national interest in Middle Eastern affairs is weakening, as oil – traditionally cited for the U.S.’ long history of intervention throughout the region – is no longer a major factor in guiding his administration’s policy in this geostrategic area of the world. As Trump notes, the U.S. is currently producing a record amount of oil domestically and is likely to continue its rapid increase until production is estimated to peak in 2025.'
Read more: Trump Admits His Mideast Policy Guided by Israeli, not American, Interests