DUBAI, UAE - In the first public reaction to the statement by Saudi Arabia on the Khashoggi affair on Sunday, the head of a Saudi-owned, Dubai-based television network has warned that if the Saudis are not taken seriously, the repercussions would result in "an economic disaster," for the world.
He reveals that Saudi Arabia has already drawn up a hit list of thirty measures to punish the U.S. and the West by if sanctions are imposed on it, including switching the price of oil from U.S. dollars to Chinese yuan, and sending oil prices to $200, and possibly $400 a barrel.
He described the Saudi statement as "rosy," by comparison to the general talk in Riyadh which he says is targeting up to 30 measures the kingdom plans to take in retaliation to any sanctions, which would "kill the U.S. economy," and create "catastrophic scenarios."
Al Arabyia has been featuring stories drawing into question the events leading up to and following the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Now its chief has resorted to an op-ed on his own channel to bring home the message, that messing with Saudi Arabia will have dire consequences.
Turki Aldakhil says the total investment by Saudi Arabia in the United States is around $800 billion annually, and the loss of this would seriously impact on the U.S. economy.
He says sanctions on Saudi Arabia will drive the country, and the Muslim world, into the arms of Iran.
"I read the Saudi statement in response to the American proposals regarding sanctions on Saudi Arabia," the TV network chief said in his op-ed Sunday. "The information circulating within decision-making circles within the kingdom have gone beyond the rosy language used in the statement and discuss more than 30 potential measures to be taken against the imposition of sanctions on Riyadh."
"They present catastrophic scenarios that would hit the US economy much harder than Saudi Arabia's economic climate."
"If U.S. sanctions are imposed on Saudi Arabia, we will be facing an economic disaster that would rock the entire world," Aldakhil said.
"Riyadh is the capital of its oil, and touching this would affect oil production before any other vital commodity. It would lead to Saudi Arabia's failure to commit to producing 7.5 million barrels. If the price of oil reaching $80 angered President Trump, no one should rule out the price jumping to $100, or $200, or even double that figure."
"An oil barrel may be priced in a different currency, Chinese yuan, perhaps, instead of the dollar. And oil is the most important commodity traded by the dollar today," said Aldakhil.
"All of this will throw the Middle East, the entire Muslim world, into the arms of Iran, which will become closer to Riyadh than Washington."
"There are simple procedures, that are part of over 30 others, that Riyadh will implement directly, without flinching an eye if sanctions are imposed," warned the Al Arabyia chief.
"This is all when it comes to oil, but Saudi Arabia is not just about oil, it is a leader in the Muslim world with its standing and geographical importance. And perhaps trusted exchange of information between Riyadh and America and Western countries will be a thing of the past after it had contributed to the protection of millions of Westerners, as testified by senior Western officials themselves."
"Imposing any type of sanctions on Saudi Arabia by the West will cause the kingdom to resort to other options, US President Donald Trump had said a few days ago, and that Russia and China are ready to fulfil Riyadh's military needs among others. No one can deny that repercussions of these sanctions will include a Russian military base in Tabuk, northwest of Saudi Arabia, in the heated four corners of Syria, Israel, Lebanon and Iraq," Aldakhil said in his op-ed.
"At a time where Hamas and Hezbollah have turned from enemies into friends, getting this close to Russia will lead to a closeness to Iran and maybe even a reconciliation with it."
"It will not be strange that Riyadh would stop buying weapons from the US. Riyadh is the most important customer of US companies, as Saudi Arabia buys 10 percent of the total weapons that these US companies produce, and buys 85 percent from the US army which means what's left for the rest of the world is only five percent; in addition to the end of Riyadh's investments in the US government which reaches $800 billion," said the Al Arabyia head.
"The US will also be deprived of the Saudi market which is considered one of the top 20 economies in the world."
"These are simple procedures that are part of over 30 others that Riyadh will implement directly, without flinching an eye if sanctions are imposed on it, according to Saudi sources who are close to the decision-makers," said Aldakhil.
"The truth is that if Washington imposes sanctions on Riyadh, it will stab its own economy to death, even though it thinks that it is stabbing only Riyadh!"
(Turki Aldakhil is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. He began his career as a print journalist, covering politics and culture for the Saudi newspapers Okaz, Al-Riyadh and Al-Watan. He then moved to pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat and pan-Arab news magazine Al-Majalla. Turki later became a radio correspondent for the French-owned pan-Arab Radio Monte Carlo and MBC FM. He proceeded to Elaph, an online news magazine and Alarabiya.net, the news channel's online platform. Turki also owns Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre and Madarek Publishing House in Dubai. He has received several awards and honors, including the America Abroad Media annual award for his role in supporting civil society, human rights and advancing women's roles in Gulf societies).