Trump’s tweet about having supposedly talked the Saudi King into increasing oil output was a devious tactic designed to undermine the Russian-Saudi oil alliance.
Trump tweeted over the weekend that “Just spoke to King Salman of Saudi Arabia and explained to him that, because of the turmoil & dysfunction in Iran and Venezuela, I am asking that Saudi Arabia increase oil production, maybe up to 2,000,000 barrels, to make up the difference...Prices to high! He has agreed!”, making it seem like the American hegemon ordered its Mideast underling to do as it was told and it willingly complied. Not only is this inaccurate, but it’s also deliberately condescending to the Kingdom especially because he sent this message to his over 50 million followers on the platform. The White House realized how damaging this could actually be to the American-Saudi partnership, particularly when factoring in the importance of “face” in Arabic culture, and promptly walked back the tweet, as they’ve grown increasingly accustomed to doing every time that Trump speaks freely and makes what they believe to be a diplomatic faux pas.
The thing is, however, that Trump didn’t make a mistake but knew exactly what he was doing, and it was deviously brilliant even though it ultimately failed.
As it stands, the seemingly unthinkable has occurred in the world’s oil markets, and that’s the alliance between former rivals Russia and Saudi Arabia through the so-called OPEC+ mechanism that’s taken the industry by storm. To put it bluntly, these two Great Powers are cooperating with one another in order to corner the market and exert previously unheard of control over its dynamics by virtue of the sheer size of output that they’re both capable of, especially when coordinating their policies. The expected decline in Iranian output following the US’ forthcoming reimposition of sanctions and threats to commence “secondary” ones against all non-compliant actors will lead to a spike in oil prices that will predictably make American fracking profitable once again, thus enabling the US to tap into Russia and Saudi Arabia’s market shares. At the same time, however, high oil prices are unpopular in the US, so there are domestic political reasons for Trump to want to keep them low for the time being, especially ahead of November’s upcoming midterm elections.
The recent OPEC+ agreement to increase output was actually to prevent the US from taking these two Great Powers’ market shares while they in turn replace some of Iran’s, though Trump sought to make it all about him in order to score some political points at home and also attempt to undermine the newfound trust that forms the basis of the Russian-Saudi oil alliance. By telling the world that he ordered Saudi King Salman to boost output and the Mideast royal supposedly agreed to this demand, Trump is trying to signal that the Saudis are an untrustworthy partner for the Russians because they’ll always behave as American pawns. The effect of this weaponized narrative is to sow the seeds of suspicion between the US’ two energy rivals in a bid to break their alliance and therefore allow America to regain control over the oil industry via a divide-and-rule stratagem. Russia, however, is much too politically mature to fall for this trick, though it’s nevertheless telling that Trump attempted it.
Extrapolating from this, it can be understood just how much the US fears the Russian-Saudi oil alliance that its own Commander-in-Chief is taking the vanguard role in trying to sabotage it, and through the public means of “twitter diplomacy” at that. In addition, it speaks to the US intelligence community’s estimation that the personal relationship between President Putin and King Salman is largely responsible for creating this alliance in the first place, and that psychological games against one or the other was mistakenly thought to be capable of capsizing the whole arrangement. This reminds one of the incessant infowar being waged all across the Mainstream and Alternative Media in trying to do the same between the Russian leader and his Turkish counterpart, albeit for different reasons and more geopolitical ends. All told, the US is frightened by the Russian-Saudi oil alliance because its analysts never expected anything of the sort to ever form, and they’re powerless to stop it from “hedging the hegemon”.
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