Trump says we have to sit down with the Saudis

Trump wants to be Saudi Arabia’s besty. Even some of his buddies aren’t especially happy about that.

In a series of tweets this weekend, Trump indicated that Iran is behind the recent attack on Saudi oil facilities and that the United States will respond after hearing from the Saudi government “under what terms we would proceed.”

Saudi Arabia is telling us what to do now? When did we sign up for that?

His implication — that the royal family in Riyadh will dictate U.S. actions — prompted fury in Washington, where the Saudis have faced an increasingly hostile climate in recent years, especially in Congress and even among some of Trump’s fellow Republicans.

Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, a Republican-turned-independent, noted that Congress is the body empowered to “commence war.” “We don’t take orders from foreign powers,” he tweeted.

We do if Trump says we do.

On Monday afternoon, Trump said that while it is “looking” like Iran was behind the attack, he noted that an investigation is ongoing. He also said he’d like to avoid war with Iran, but that the U.S. is ready for such a conflict.

Asked if he had pledged to protect the Saudis, Trump said: “No, I haven’t promised the Saudis that … We have to sit down with the Saudis and work something out.”

No we don’t. We don’t have to do that at all.

Saudi Arabia’s reputation in Washington is arguably worse now than it has been in nearly two decades — almost as politically charged as in the years immediately following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when it was revealed that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis.

Under the de facto leadership of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, Riyadh has pressed ahead with a four-year-old war against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, which has had catastrophic humanitarian consequences that have been sharply criticized on Capitol Hill. U.S. lawmakers backed a measure that would have ended U.S. support for that war, but Trump vetoed it.

The killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi national who had been living in the U.S., also fueled a massive backlash against Riyadh, which was blamed for the murder by the U.S. intelligence community. Many U.S. lawmakers in both parties hold Bin Salman responsible for what happened to Khashoggi, who was assassinated inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

Trump has effectively said he doesn’t care if the Saudi crown prince played a role because Saudi Arabia is an important ally, one that buys a lot of U.S. weapons and is a key global oil producer. “It could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Trump said in one lengthy statement on the matter.

Spoken like a true professional.

Despite Iran’s hostility, critics argue that Iran’s latest alleged misbehavior is partly Trump’s fault because he quit the Iran nuclear deal and re-imposed economic sanctions on Tehran.

“The administration’s response to a crisis it caused by walking away from the [Iran deal] has been completely incompetent,” Ilan Goldenberg, who served in the Obama administration, tweeted. “It has failed to build an [international] coalition, failed to make a credible public case, given Iran more flexibility to hit our partners & increased the risk of war.”

Other than that…

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