Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman on the sidelines of the second day of the G20 Summit at INTEX Osaka Exhibition Center in Osaka, Japan on June 29, 2019. (Photo: Bandar Algaloud/Saudi Kingdom Council/Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

'Saudi Arabia First': Trump Accused of Letting Saudis Dictate US Foreign Policy After Oil Facility Attack

"Congress will not give you the authority to start another disastrous war in the Middle East just because the brutal Saudi dictatorship told you to," said Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Jake Johnson

Donald Trump is taking marching orders from Saudi Arabia, said progressive members of Congress and foreign policy analysts, after the president tweeted Sunday that the U.S. military is prepared and waiting for the kingdom to assign blame for attacks on its oil facilities over the weekend.

"There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed," Trump said.

"The U.S. is not obligated to fight Saudi Arabia's wars and we urge Trump to discard his repeated willingness to cede U.S. policy to other nations."
—Jamal Abdi, National Iranian American Council

Karen Attiah, global opinions editor at the Washington Post, called the tweet the "clearest expression of Trump's 'Saudi Arabia First' doctrine yet."

"The Saudi regime has drained its economy of billions to bombard Yemen for years," said Attiah. "All there is to show for it is a humanitarian disaster. This is the regime Trump wants to take targeting orders from."

Saudi and U.S. officials were quick to claim Iran was behind the attack, which paralyzed Saudi oil output and sent crude prices skyrocketing. The two countries based their accusations on flimsy satellite evidence and unspecified intelligence.

Iran denied responsibility for the attacks and accused the Trump administration of spreading "deceit."

Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), said in a statement that allowing the Saudis to dictate U.S. foreign policy heightens the risk of "triggering a regional war more catastrophic than the 2003 invasion of Iraq."

"The U.S. is not obligated to fight Saudi Arabia's wars," said Abdi, "and we urge Trump to discard his repeated willingness to cede U.S. policy to other nations."

Lawmakers reminded the president that Congress alone—not the White House nor the Saudi dictatorship—has the constitutional authority to approve U.S. military action.

"Mr. Trump, the Constitution of the United States is perfectly clear," tweeted Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. "Only Congress—not the president—can declare war. And Congress will not give you the authority to start another disastrous war in the Middle East just because the brutal Saudi dictatorship told you to."

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) echoed Sanders in a tweet on Monday.

"Congress has the constitutional power to declare war," said Omar. "Not the president. Not the Secretary of State. And definitely not Saudi Arabia."

The Washington Post reported Sunday that Trump is "contemplating what U.S. officials characterized as a serious military response."

Sunday night, the Trump administration released satellite images purporting to show the oil facility attacks, apparently carried out with drones, originated from Iran or Iraq.

But, the New York Times reported the photos do "not appear as clear cut as officials suggested, with some appearing to show damage on the western side of the facilities, not from the direction of Iran or Iraq."

NIAC's Abdi slammed Trump for threatening military action on Saudi Arabia's behalf even "before the facts have become clear."

"We do not know definitively who was behind the attacks, though Houthi forces in Yemen have been at war with the Saudi coalition since 2015 and have claimed responsibility for them," said Abdi. "Iran has a motive, given the economic warfare being waged against it, but there is no smoking gun to implicate them."

"Those jumping to conclusions without sufficient evidence," Abdi said, "seem eager to embroil the U.S. in another war that does not serve our interests."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

At Least 66 Clinics in 15 States Have Ended Abortion Care Post-Dobbs

Over a third of those facilities have fully closed, meaning patients also lost "access to contraceptive care, STI testing and treatment, and pregnancy care," said a Guttmacher Institute researcher.

Jessica Corbett ·


US Jobless Claims Jump as Fed Shoves Economy to 'Precipice of Global Recession'

One expert called on Powell "to think twice before plunging our economy into a wholly avoidable recession and completely undoing one of the strongest job recoveries on record."

Jake Johnson ·


After Dumping $15 Billion Into Fossil Fuels, World Bank Urged to Stop 'Investing in Climate Disaster'

"If the World Bank wants to be a part of the solution rather than the problem, it needs to stop funding fossil fuels and unlock billions in order to support the transition to renewable energy across the globe and end poverty and inequality," said one campaigner.

Brett Wilkins ·


Immigrant Rights Advocates Tell Congress to 'Step Up' After Court Declares DACA Illegal

"The writing is on the legal wall, and we cannot sit by awaiting another adverse ruling by the lower court, the Fifth Circuit, or ultimately the Supreme Court," said one attorney.

Kenny Stancil ·


IMF Urged to Unlock $650 Billion for Poor Nations Facing Crises 'Unprecedented in Human History'

"The great majority of the world's countries are struggling amid multiple historic, overlapping, and generally worsening crises," the letter reads. "The world's wealthiest countries must act quickly to assist them."

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo