The United States and Saudi Arabia’s alliance will endure

Date:

The United States and Saudi Arabia's alliance will endure

  • News by AUN News correspondent
  • Tuesday, October 18, 2022.
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090

Summary:

  • Due to their long and close relationship, it is essential to talk about the recent disagreement between the US and Saudi Arabia over Riyadh’s plan to cut oil production by 2 million barrels per day.

  • This is not the first time that these two countries have been at odds with each other.

  • Last but not least, Saudi Arabia has long known that it opposes Biden’s attempts to extend the Iran deal.

  • The US and Saudi Arabia also have fundamentally different views on why they want to reduce oil production.

  • I think that the Biden administration shouldn’t take any punitive actions against Saudi Arabia, especially before the midterm elections, which give everyone a chance to calm down.

Due to their long and close relationship, it is essential to talk about the recent disagreement between the US and Saudi Arabia over Riyadh’s plan to cut oil production by 2 million barrels per day.

For more than 70 years, the two countries have worked together on a wide range of issues, such as the large-scale export of US military equipment, cooperation on national security, joint economic development, the transfer of sensitive US technology, and the sharing of information.

This is not the first time that these two countries have been at odds with each other. In 1973, the Saudis put an oil embargo on the United States as a way of punishing it for helping Israel during the Yom Kippur War. In 2001, after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, tensions rose again over unproven claims that Saudi Arabia may have been involved in the episode because 15 of the 19 terrorists were Saudi citizens.

These two significant events undoubtedly severely disrupted their relationship. Still, each time they were able to fix the spirit and the practical side of it because they had more in common than they did differences of opinion. I don’t think the most recent fight will significantly affect how they get along.

Congressional Democrats demanded that Saudi Arabia take extreme measures against Iran, including discontinuing all forms of collaboration with Riyadh. President Biden remarked,”…when the House and the Senate get back, there’s going to be some consequences for what we did with Russia.”

There are several reasons for Biden and other prominent Democrats’ strong response. Because Biden had just been to Saudi Arabia, the Saudis’ action was seen as a personal slight against him. This was done to ease tensions and get the Saudis to make more oil.

Riyadh’s position is also seen as blatantly anti-American and a way for Russia to work with the US against it. Biden and many other Democrats also think that the Saudis’ decision will worsen global inflation, make it harder for the US to lower gas prices, especially before midterm elections, and help Putin fight with Ukraine.

After all, they believe that the Saudis are unappreciative and undeserving of the US’ ongoing defense aid, which makes them think that the Saudis are no longer a trustworthy ally.

In particular, since Biden called Saudi Arabia a “pariah” and said that its leaders had “absolutely no redeeming value” when he was running for president, the Saudi action seems to be a way of getting back at the US.

He said he would never talk to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) again and that MBS planned to kill journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He also slammed the country for its indiscriminate bombing of Yemen and abuse of human rights. Last but not least, Saudi Arabia has long known that it opposes Biden’s attempts to extend the Iran deal.

David Rundell, a former chief of mission at the American embassy in Riyadh, the author of “Vision or Mirage,” and one of the country’s top experts on Saudi Arabia, told me in a recent conversation that the Biden administration didn’t know how emotionally important the conflict was to the Saudi people.

The president repeatedly used the slur, “I think the only term you can use is an insult,” according to Rundell. The president then declined to shake Mohammed bin Salman’s hand after making it quite evident that he did not like him and that the White House would not be meeting with him.

Further addressing the Saudis’ sense of independence and pride, Rundell emphasised that “the Saudis acted in what they believed to be their self-interest. They’ll do it once again. They’ll only grow closer to China and Russia, which is already happening if the United States tries to penalise or isolate them.”

I agree with Rundell that it would be a mistake for the Biden administration to take any significant punitive measures against the Saudis because doing so would only worsen their bilateral relationship at a compassionate time, even though it is necessary to reevaluate the US-Saudi relationship in light of what happened. The goal is “not to destroy the relationship, but to recalibrate,” Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said last year.

I think that some Democratic senators, such as Robert Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, stated that he would propose a halt to “any cooperation with Riyadh until the Kingdom reassesses its position concerning the war in Ukraine,” adding, “enough is enough,” and others, such as Senator Richard Blumenthal and Rep. Ro Khanna, who introduced a bill to “immediately pause all US arms sales to Saudi Arabia,” are going far.

Other Democrats are calling for more moderate steps, like keeping intelligence secret, not selling weapons, limiting access to financial markets, cutting back on some parts of military training, and putting off important development projects.

This may seem like the only way to convey to Saudi Arabia our anger, but it will still send the incorrect message.

Both countries should avoid playing a game of cat and mouse that would primarily help Russia and China, given how meaningful their relationship is to each other and how it affects security in the region.

Even though Saudi Arabia depends a lot on the US for military equipment and security guarantees, it is essential to note that the Saudis believe they have been giving back all along by supporting regional stability, working hard to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, working with the US to fight terrorism, and letting the US keep a military presence on their land.

Also, the Saudis continue to trade oil for dollars, which keeps the dollar value high, and they have worked to make Islam more tolerant.

The US and Saudi Arabia also have fundamentally different views on why they want to reduce oil production. They believe that commercial concerns solely drive their actions.

They say that even if oil production drops by 2 million barrels per day, prices will still be between $80 and $90 per barrel, much less than the recent high of $130 per barrel. They intended to lower oil production to raise prices.

The Saudis perceive it as a business choice with no political overtones. Despite how phoney this may appear, there is a financial benefit for them; it was just the timing of the cut that many American officials found troubling.

I think that the Biden administration shouldn’t take any punitive actions against Saudi Arabia, especially before the midterm elections, which give everyone a chance to calm down. The Biden administration should then get in touch to resolve their differences behind the scenes.

Both sides must stop blaming each other publicly because they know their relationship’s meaning, especially at this time. These actions would only serve to strain their connection further.

Since Biden recently said that China and Russia are the US’s enemies, the ongoing conflict between the US and Saudi Arabia would only help Russia and China in their efforts to split the two allies.

Although the Saudis may appear to be placated, they are not. Any disagreement between allies must be resolved via open communication and conversation, regardless of who is in the right or wrong—and in this situation, all parties are equally at fault.

Now is the time for Saudi Arabia and the US to show that their partnership can and will last, given that they have been friends and have worked well together for over 70 years.

Analysis by: Advocacy Unified Network

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