Donald Trump’s Saudi Arabia amorality and US’s 'reputational loss' may benefit the Gulf in 2019

London/Paris: US president Donald Trump’s Thanksgiving-week absolution of Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents has undermined any claims to global moral leadership by the US administration. But America’s reputational loss today may benefit the Gulf in 2019.

Though Trump gave MbS a pass on Khashoggi’s killing, the 33-year-old monarch surely realises how close a call he faced and may owe his eventual accession to the US president alone. That gives Trump leverage to undo many of MbS’s recent blunders.

 Donald Trump’s Saudi Arabia amorality and US’s reputational loss may benefit the Gulf in 2019

File image of US president Donald Trump. Reuters

Start with forcing an end to the pointless four-nation blockade of Qatar, where the United States has a military base. Pressuring Saudi to lift this embargo would improve a regional economy hurt by lost Qatari business, ratchet down tensions in the Gulf that have concerned global investors and reunite families.

Next, as MbS’s godfather-like protector, Trump can push for an end to the Saudi-prosecuted war in Yemen, which Save the Children estimates has led to nearly 85,000 Yemeni children dying of starvation and disease, and which the Brookings Institution reckons costs Riyadh at least $50 billion a year. That’s money Saudi could use to reduce a fiscal deficit the International Monetary Fund projects will hit 4.6 percent this year without deploying its so-called “oil weapon”.

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Updated Date: Nov 27, 2018 12:17:03 IST