Washington and Riyadh have long been rocky. Joe Biden is willing to reevaluate the US-Saudi relationship.
Following a move by the Saudi-led OPEC+ oil cartel to cut oil production, which could see inflation in the United States soaring just weeks ahead of the midterm elections, President Joe Biden knows that it’s time for the US to rethink its relationship with Saudi Arabia.
The White House and the Democratic party are on a mission to punish the kingdom. A host of measures have been suggested, all drastic moves that analysts say could seriously dent the US’ eight-decade partnership with the kingdom – if they ever materialize.
Riyadh has suggested that the threats are pre-election posturing on the Democrats’ part.
Bilateral relations between Saudi Arabia and the United States began in 1933 when full diplomatic relations were established and became formalized in the 1951 Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement. Despite the differences between the two countries—an Islamic absolute monarchy, and a secular constitutional republic—the two countries have been allies ever since.
Historically, opinion polls between the two nations showed negative feelings between the American people and Saudi people despite the strong relationship between the two countries.
As of July 2022, 92% of young Saudis viewed the United States as an ally of their nation.
Biden traveled in July to Saudi Arabia, where he met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The trip was a source of controversy given Biden vowed to make Saudi Arabia a pariah during the 2020 presidential election following the 2018 murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, and it came at a time when gas prices in the U.S. had surged.
Biden defended the trip after the OPEC+ announcement, saying the visit was “not essentially for oil. The trip was about the Middle East and about Israel and rationalization of positions.”
“But it is a disappointment, and it says that there are problems,” Biden said last week.
While a number of US politicians showed their support to cut arms sales, others expressed concern, saying it would only push Saudi Arabia further into the arms of Russia.
The US is the world’s largest arms exporter, with foreign military sales averaging about $47 billion in the 2021 fiscal year. Saudi Arabia is a key client, accounting for 24% of all US arms sales.
Saudi Arabia appears intent to remain on the side-lines and maintain cordial relations with Ukraine and Russia.
Zelensky praised the involvement of Saudi Crown Prince and prime minister Mohammed bin Salman in negotiating a 300-person prisoner swap alongside Turkey.