Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump said last week that he would consider halting purchases of Saudi Arabian oil if the kingdom does not commit troops to fight Islamic State.
Trump told the New York Times that he would consider stopping U.S. oil purchases from Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries if they fail to commit ground troops to fight IS.
Trump added that he would also consider accepting substantial reimbursement for costs incurred by the United States in the fight against IS and its affiliates.
“If Saudi Arabia was without the cloak of American protection. I don’t think it would be around,” Trump told the NY Times.
According to data provided by the U..S Energy Information Administration, imports of Saudi Arabian oil have been steadily declining from a high of 2.3 million barrels per day in May 2003 to 1.12 million barrels per day last December.
Trump also suggested that growing U.S. production and a global oil supply glut have diminished the need for a U.S. military presence in the Middle East.
Trump told the NY Times that “the reason we’re in the Middle East is for oil, and all of a sudden we’re finding out that there’s less reason to be there now.”
Since entering the presidential race, Trump has said the U.S. should bomb oil fields controlled by Islamic State to shrink the group’s revenues.
A U.S. Treasury official told the AP last November that Islamic State earns about $500 million per year from its oil sales.
However, because IS oil sales often occur on the black market, there are few details about the scope of their energy operations.
U.S. led airstrikes have destroyed several oil and gas facilities controlled by Islamic State in Syria over the last two years.
The strikes, part of Operation Inherent Resolve, began in 2014 and have focused on curtailing Islamic State oil revenues and activity in Iraq and Syria.
Syrian oil production has “essentially ceased” since ISIS and its affiliates began taking over the country’s oilfields in 2014, according to the EIA.
Libya has also been particularly hard hit by IS attacks on oil infrastructure.
Last November, the president Libya’s National Oil Corporation urged his countrymen to unite in the fight against IS after the extremist group launched a deadly attack against the country’s largest oil port.