'Saudis would be speaking Farsi if not for US,' says Senator Graham

'Saudis would be speaking Farsi if not for US,' says Senator Graham
One of the most vocal critics of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said that Saudis would be speaking Farsi if it wasn't for the US.
3 min read
10 December, 2018
Graham said that the US military is vital to Saudi Arabia's defence [Getty]
Vocal US Senator Lindsey Graham has claimed that Saudi Arabia would be swiftly taken over by Iran if it wasn't for the American military.

Graham said the Saudi military "can't fight out of a paper bag" and Riyadh is completely reliant on US military support for its defence.

"Let me put it this way - I want to be very blunt with you," Graham told Fox News, "If it weren't for the United States they'd be speaking Farsi [Iran's national language] in about a week in Saudi Arabia."

His comments echo those of President Donald Trump who has criticised Saudi Arabia for not contributing enough to the "US defence" of the kingdom.

"We protect Saudi Arabia. Would you say they're rich? And I love the king, King Salman. But I said 'King - we're protecting you - you might not be there for two weeks without us - you have to pay for your military,'" he told a crowd of supporters on 2 October, on the day journalist Jamal Khashoggi went missing.

In 2015, Trump also made a similar call to Saudi Arabia.

"We are getting ready to protect Saudi Arabia against Iran & others-sending ships. How much are they going to pay us toward this protection," he tweeted.

In June 2018, the president also claimed he had told Saudi King Salman that oil prices were too high and the kingdom must ramp up production.

"Just spoke to King Salman of Saudi Arabia and explained to him that, because of the turmoil & disfunction in Iran and Venezuela, I am asking that Saudi Arabia increase oil production, maybe up to 2,000,000 barrels, to make up the difference... Prices to high! He has agreed!" he tweeted.

The Republican Senator has been critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman since the murder of Khashoggi.

Graham has urged the US put economic pressure on Saudi Arabia over the killing and to cut its support for Prince Mohammed.

He also reviewed a briefing by the US intelligence community on the killing of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October, which reportedly linked the crown prince - dubbed MbS, due to his initials - to the alleged murder squad.

"It's the most brilliant briefing I've ever received in my time in Congress," Graham said. "You had two analysts that walk us through the crown prince's focus on Mr. Khashoggi for about two years. This operation was very sophisticated.

"The person in charge of executing the operation is MbS' right-hand man. There is no doubt by any senator who received this briefing that MbS was complicit in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi."

Graham added President Donald Trump's claims that the US relies heavily on Saudi Arabia for oil and geopolitical factors is also false.

"They give us nine percent of our oil imports. We need them a lot less than they need us," Graham said. 

"I don't buy this idea you've got to hook up to a murderous regime, a thug like MbS, to protect America from Iran. Quite the opposite. I think by hooking up with him we hurt our ability to govern the region."

Trump and the crown prince are thought to be very close, particularly due to the personal relationship between the president's Middle East envoy and son-in-law Jared Kushner, and MbS, according to The New York Times.