Saudi Arabia’s King Salman is on a month-long trip to Asia, highlighting a shift from West to East when it comes to both trade and security. I talked about the significance of this a few minutes ago with host Bob Bartolomeo on KQV News Radio in Pittsburgh.
It’s part of a planned reorganization of the Saudi economy, put forward by the king’s son, Prince Mohammed. His idea is to wean the Saudi economy away from dependence on oil exports, trying to attract investments from places like China and Japan–two of the stops in the king’s Asia tour. He’s traveling with 600 officials and business people, underlying the seriousness of the effort.
The the other element is the Saudi battle with Iran for power in the Mideast. The Saudis set up a new alliance last year, grouping Asian nations with major Islamic populations in an effort to contain Iran. The king is looking for support from Asian partners, including weapons deals.
And in parallel, Prince Mohammed visits Washington later this week for talks with the Trump administration. One of President Trump’s first actions in office was to cancel the TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, aimed at encouraging trade between the US and Asia. Saudi Arabia appears poised to jump into whatever vacuum that move has created.