International outrage over Saudi Arabia’s murder of a dissident journalist will fade with time, the monarchy’s top energy official predicted.
“We suffered in the past from political crises, this is not the first time,” Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih told TASS, a state-run Russian media outlet, in an interview published Monday. “This incident will pass.”
That expression of confidence dovetails with American suspicion that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman believes he has “a carte blanche” with respect to human rights abuses due to his alliance with the United States. The murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi took place one month before an impending deadline to impose aggressive sanctions on Iran’s oil industry — part of a pressure campaign that Saudi Arabia is expected to support by increasing the world oil supply in order to offset the restrictions on Iranian oil.
“I think that rational people in the world know that oil is a very important commodity for the rest of the world,” al-Falih said. “If oil prices will go too high, it will slow down the world economy and would trigger a global recession. And Saudi Arabia has been consistent in its policy. We work to stabilize global markets and facilitate global economic growth.”
Saudi Arabia is prepared to produce an additional 1.3 million barrels of oil per day in order to keep oil prices low as President Trump imposes sanctions designed to bar Iran from selling oil abroad. U.S. officials are outraged by the Khashoggi murder, raising the possibility of a punishment for the killing that prompts the monarchy to put economic pressure on the U.S.
[More: Khashoggi crisis threatens Trump's oil pact with Saudis]
“Saudi Arabia is a very responsible country, for decades we used our oil policy as responsible economic tool and isolated it from politics,” al-Falih said. “So lets hope that the world would deal with the political crisis, including the one with [a] Saudi citizen in Turkey, with wisdom. And we will exercise our wisdom both in political and economic fronts.”
Still, he said that the Saudis do not plan to impose embargos on the United States, as they did during a 1973 crisis that caused the price of oil to quadruple. “There is no intention,” he said.