In March, the Saudis were not happy.
They wanted to see how long it took for Trump to issue his new visa, and whether they could get it by the end of May.
“He said, ‘We’re going to be issuing it in a couple of weeks,'” an executive from a Saudi Arabian consulate told Reuters at the time.
“We don’t want to wait, we’re ready.”
It was a bold move.
“The Saudi government has made it clear that it does not want the United States to interfere with its sovereign decisions,” said Ali Shamsi, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington think tank.
“In other words, they don’t like the idea of a temporary visa.
But that is exactly what the Trump administration is going to do.”
As Trump’s visa announcement approached, the Saudi embassy in Washington, DC, sent a letter to the Trump team stating that it would not issue visas to citizens of the kingdom unless the visa was for the duration of the Trump presidency.
The letter was signed by the ambassador to the U.S., Abd al-Wahhab al-Razzak.
It was the first time the Saudi government had publicly expressed opposition to a Trump presidency, and it was widely seen as a veiled threat to the kingdom’s continued economic dominance.
But Trump, who is Saudi by birth, did not respond directly to the letter, and the embassy said it had no further comment.
It wasn’t until the next day that Trump tweeted: “The Saudis are very upset, and I’m told that they want to see a change.
Please do not send me a visa!”
The embassy in Riyadh told Reuters that it was not surprised.
“I think he was already planning to issue a new visa before the embassy was told about the visa issue,” said Shamsie.
Saudi Arabia is a crucial partner in the Trump campaign, with billions in arms sales and billions in defense contracts.
It is also home to a sprawling American military presence, a sprawling embassy, and a network of private, state-run companies that run the economy and conduct counterterrorism operations.
Trump’s election campaign called for an end to the Saudi-U.S. military alliance.
But many experts say the Trump decision was likely a response to the new visa issue.
It would have been unprecedented for Trump not to have issued a new Saudi visa, which is required by the United Nations Security Council and approved by the State Department.
It’s not clear what the Saudis would have asked for in return for this new visa.
“It seems like they were just looking to try to get something that was easier to get,” said a former State Department official.
“This is an important diplomatic opportunity for the Saudis to get out of the alliance.”
And yet, the Trump White House, including Jared Kushner, a top adviser, was in the process of planning a major Saudi diplomatic overhaul in the months ahead, including the signing of the U-turn on the visa request.
The White House has also tried to tamp down speculation about whether the Saudi ambassador had been contacted by the Trump transition team.
“Nothing was communicated to the ambassador that would indicate the State Dept. was involved in any discussions or anything about a visa for him,” said one senior administration official who was not authorized to speak publicly.
The Saudi Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Trump Whitehouse has also made the Saudis nervous about their relationship with the U, a key pillar of Trump’s presidency.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the embassy in New York said: “We are very concerned about the impact of this decision on our relations with the United Kingdom, and we ask for a full explanation as to why.”
The Saudi embassy said the visa announcement was in response to Trump’s request for a temporary temporary visa that would be issued for the length of the new president’s term.
“During the transition period, the State department had already been conducting a review of visa policy for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the embassy wrote.
“While it is our understanding that the visa proposal was submitted to the State Departments Office of Foreign Missions for review, the visa will not be issued during the transition, pending further guidance from the State departments Office of Special Counsel.”
It’s unclear whether the embassy or the Trump officials were aware of the visa’s existence or whether the administration was simply hoping that the embassy would issue a similar request.