Saudi Arabia fears Bernie Sanders presidency?

US, WASHINGTON (NEWS OBSERVATORY) — Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders surprised everyone during the election campaign, calling the Saudi leadership “thug killers.”

This in turn raised the question: how concerned is the world’s largest oil exporter with the prospect of an unfriendly presidency of Bernie Sanders.

Saudi Arabia’s “thug killers”

How quickly will the president give up harsh words spoken during the campaign?

“For many years, we loved Saudi Arabia, our wonderful ally. The only problem is that the people who run this country are thug killers,” said Senator Sanders, adding that “instead of really being friends with Muhammad bin I believe Salman, the dictator-billionaire from Saudi Arabia – and as you know, President Obama has made progress in this direction, and we should not forget about it, we could unite the Saudis and Iranians.”

Can a proud Arab leader like Ben Salman make progress with a US president like Sanders if the latter calls him a thug killer?

Saudi oil: friend or foe?

Saudi Arabia and the United States have maintained relations for many years – since the first oil was produced in the Middle East in the 1930s. Saudi Arabia is the largest consumer of US military equipment. In addition, over the years, the United States purchased a fair amount of oil from Saudi Arabia, reaching a maximum of 1.9 million barrels per day in 1992.

According to Bernie Sanders, who is the main proponent of the “green new course,” in which the US energy system will switch to 100% renewable energy, the US does not need to rely on oil from Saudi Arabia or the rest of the Middle East if the plan is successful.

In any case, as the United States reduces its dependence on Saudi Arabia for oil, we are already moving in that direction.

Today, the United States has already reduced its purchases of oil from Saudi Arabia. According to the latest available data, the United States consumes only 450 thousand barrels per day of kingdom oil. And this is probably good for a candidate trying to secede from one of the largest oil producers in the world, taking a good step towards America’s energy independence.

Apart from arms deals, how quickly can the US find alternative sources for that half a million barrels of oil?

The largest refinery in the United States is the Motiva refinery in Port Arthur, Texas. This refinery is wholly owned by Saudi Aramco and it is no coincidence that Saudi oil is used. Therefore, Turkey’s approach, if relations between the USA and Saudi Arabia decline, will affect Saudi Aramco’s own refinery in the USA.

Other US refineries also use Saudi oil, but Saudi imports account for 3% of all raw materials, including those associated with Motiva. Chevron, Motiva, Marathon and PBF use most of the oil coming to the United States from Saudi Arabia.

Is Saudi Arabia afraid of Sanders’ presidency?

It is highly unlikely that the United States will fear Sanders presidency. One after the other, the US presidents managed to conclude deals with Saudi Arabia and ignore any violations, despite what was said in the election campaign.

In today’s globalist society, even such an anti-capitalist as Senator Sanders would not be able to keep Saudi Arabia from real change. And Ben Salman is probably aware of this reality.

Pragmatism or idealism?

The truth is that Saudi Arabia has money, a lot of money. The royal family has approximately $ 1.4 trillion. Saudi Arabia owns a significant portion of US debt – $ 177 billion for 2019.

Saudi Arabia threatened to sell this debt through a sale when the proposed law on September 11 hung over the kingdom. As you know, he would allow many people to sue the kingdom for the September 11 terrorist attack.

Therefore, despite the fact that Sanders may try to reduce America’s “love” for Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia would like to avenge dollars, but pragmatism is winning. The flow of money – and oil – will not run out as long as the market needs it, and not the politicians.


For many years, Iran and Saudi Arabia fought in Yemen, with the United States supporting the coalition of Saudi Arabia. Senator Sanders supported legislation that would put an end to US involvement in the Yemen war, which President Trump vetoed.

In case of victory, Sanders is likely to try again to take this step.

And the first thing that may bother Saudi Arabia is the relaxation of Iran and the support of the Saudi coalition in Yemen. But campaign promises, whatever they are, will change little.

And if President Donald Trump’s story is an indication of how impatient foreign leaders want to get in touch with the U.S. after harsh words, the Sanders presidency will only establish little damage control to compensate for the ungrateful words spoken against Saudi Arabia’s current ally.


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Article is written and prepared by our foreign editors from different countries around the world – material edited and published by News Observatory staff in our US newsroom.