A classified document has revealed that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) threatened to impose significant economic costs on Washington after US President Joe Biden warned Riyadh over its decision to slash oil production last fall.
Even though the Saudi government publicly defended its actions politely via diplomatic statements, the 37-year-old de facto ruler of the country threatened in private to re-evaluate the Arab nation’s relationship with the White House and impose significant economic costs on the United States if it retaliated against the oil cuts.
According to the document, the crown prince claimed “he will not deal with the US administration anymore,” and promised “major economic consequences for Washington,” The Washington Post reported on Thursday.
The US intelligence document was circulated on the Discord messaging platform as part of an extensive leak of highly sensitive national security materials.
“We are not aware of such threats by Saudi Arabia,” a spokesperson with the US National Security Council said.
“In general, such documents often represent only one snapshot of a moment in time and cannot possibly offer the full picture,” the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, added.
“The United States continues to collaborate with Saudi Arabia, an important partner in the region, to advance our mutual interests and a common vision for a more secure, stable, and prosperous region, interconnected with the world,” the official said.
The Saudi Embassy in Washington has yet to make a comment on the matter.
Eight months after Biden vowed "consequences" for Saudi Arabia after oil output cuts, the US president has yet to take any measures against the Arab country and MbS has continued to engage with top US officials, as he did with Secretary of State Antony Blinken in the seaside Saudi city of Jeddah earlier this week.
Biden, who had pledged to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” as a presidential candidate, now scarcely communicates with the crown prince but the president’s top aides have gradually rebuilt ties with him hoping the two nations can work together on pressing issues, including normalization with Israel, Saudi Arabia’s growing relationship with China, a long-sought peace deal in Yemen and continued disagreements over the supply of oil.
A second leaked US intelligence document from December last year also warned that Saudi Arabia plans to expand its “transactional relationship” with China by procuring drones, ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and mass surveillance systems from Beijing.
During a news conference alongside Blinken in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Thursday, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud highlighted that China and Saudi Arabia are close and strategic allies and have been increasing cooperation in the energy and financial sectors, and that “cooperation is likely to grow.”
He said Saudi Arabia’s ties with the United States and China were not a “zero-sum game.”
“I don't ascribe to this zero-sum game,” Prince Faisal said in Riyadh. “We are all capable of having multiple partnerships and multiple engagements and the US does the same in many instances.
“So I'm not caught up in this really negative view of this. I think we can actually build a partnership that crosses these borders,” the top Saudi diplomat said.
Riyadh’s strengthening of its commercial and security ties with Beijing comes as US influence wanes in the Middle East region.