US quietly extracts concessions from Saudi after power play

  • Saudi Arabia has made moves to appease the US after a recent feud over oil.
  • The kingdom has stepped up its support for Ukraine in its war against Russia.
  • But tensions between the United States and Saudi Arabia are unlikely to ease, one analyst said.

Last week, the US scrambled jets toward Iran amid warnings that it was planning an imminent drone and missile attack on Saudi Arabia.

After showing strength, no attack came.

But the case highlights the complex stakes that keep the US-Saudi alliance alive during difficult times.

Diplomatic ties between the Biden White House and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman are being tested like never before in a series of high-risk diplomatic encounters.

Insiders reported last month that Saudi Arabia had frustrated the United States by colluding with Russia to cut oil production.

Abandoned oil deals — and a series of more personal displays of disdain for Biden — by Crown Prince Mohammed, who believes U.S. power is waning and calls for rival powers like Russia and China Analysts say it’s the equivalent of a power play.

Biden officials were said to be taken aback by the announcement because they believed they struck a secret deal to boost supplies. Trying to reduce export earnings. Meanwhile, curbing inflation is one of the president’s key domestic priorities.

Vladimir Putin Mohammed bin Salman

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Crown Prince Mohammed in Moscow in May 2017.

Pavel Golovkin/AFP/Getty Images

Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy has called on the United States to withdraw some troops from Saudi Arabia and ban arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Biden himself said there would be “consequences” for Saudi Arabia, but did not specify.

The threat from Iran also seems to be concentrating.

“As long as the Islamic Republic remains in power, it is undeniable that officials in Washington and Riyadh will continue to view the Iranian regime as a grave threat to US and Saudi interests,” said Giorgio Cafiero, CEO of Gulf State Analytics. Told. insider.

“This factor is one of many that have helped to maintain the partnership between Washington and Riyadh despite all sources of tension between the United States and Saudi Arabia,” he added.

The anger of the Biden administration appears to have reached Saudi Arabia, which in recent weeks has launched a series of diplomatic initiatives apparently designed to appease the United States.

At the United Nations General Assembly last month, Saudi Arabia voted in favor of a resolution declaring Russia’s annexation of parts of eastern Ukraine illegal.

Prince Mohammed recently announced a significant increase in Saudi humanitarian aid to Ukraine, adding $400 million to the $10 million pledged in April. Saudi Arabia has also played a key role in brokering a high-profile prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine. The exchange freed some British and US citizens who had been captured fighting for the Ukrainian army.

Kafiero said the move was a signal from Saudi Arabia that it was willing to support Western interests in Ukraine. But he added that Riyadh’s geopolitical maneuvering and refusal to impose Russian sanctions on Ukraine fostered a deep distrust of Washington.

“It seems unlikely that the Kingdom’s diplomatic initiative in the Ukrainian conflict could offset such damage done to Saudi Arabia’s reputation in the U.S. capital.

Despite soured diplomatic relations, the United States continues to rely on Saudi Arabia as a bulwark against Iran and as a key strategic partner in a volatile region. Prince Mohammed knows this and will likely continue to take advantage of the situation to strengthen Saudi autonomy on the world stage and antagonize the United States, Kafiero said.

“These are mutual interests and the US and Saudi Arabia are interested in a bilateral partnership,” he said. “Riyadh knows this and can continue to demonstrate its desire for an increasingly independent foreign policy without worrying about the United States suddenly leaving the kingdom.”

Correction: November 10, 2022 — An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated which state Senator Chris Murphy represents. He represents Connecticut, not Delaware.

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