Is Washington adjusting its military presence in Saudi Arabia? .. Experts answer

Following the decision by the OPEC Plus alliance to cut crude oil production, and the US administration’s announcement to re-evaluate the relationship with Saudi Arabia accordingly, most of the initial commentary within the United States focused on halting arms sales to Riyadh and reduce the military presence.

Several Democratic lawmakers have called for a halt to U.S. arms sales, which account for 70 percent of military supplies to Riyadh, according to U.S. Representative Ro Khanna.

3 Democratic lawmakers also introduced a bill that would remove US forces from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in addition to withdrawing military equipment, such as Patriot systems and other defense systems used by Riyadh.

“We see no reason for US forces and contractors to continue to provide this service to countries that are actively acting against us,” the lawmakers wrote in a statement, adding that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates actively support Russian President Vladimir Putin is helping in his invasion of Ukraine.

Experts do not expect the United States to withdraw its military presence from Saudi Arabia, even with the administration’s decision to reevaluate relations with Riyadh against the backdrop of the OPEC Plus alliance decision.

And the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, citing U.S. officials, that the United States does not intend to make any significant changes to the number of U.S. forces stationed in Saudi Arabia.

Officials have said that the relationship between Washington and Riyadh is critical to US interests in the Middle East, adding that the United States is determined to continue its strategic cooperation with Saudi Arabia, which is key to the fight against Iran is.

The OPEC Plus alliance, which includes members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), led by Saudi Arabia and ten other countries, especially Russia, decided last week to reduce production quotas, which threatens to increase fuel prices in world markets.

While Washington sees the alliance’s move in favor of Russia – which is under Western sanctions for its invasion of Ukraine – the members of the cartel claim their decision was made for purely technical reasons.

After the US administration announced a reassessment of relations between Washington and Riyadh, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to the criticism leveled against the kingdom, saying that it “rejects the dictates and any actions or efforts aimed at is to change the lofty goals it works to protect the global economy from the fluctuations of oil markets.”

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said in statements to reporters on Wednesday that the United States is “evaluating the relationship with Saudi Arabia”, noting that a decision in this regard needs time.

US President Joe Biden announced that Washington’s relations with Riyadh would face “consequences” after the 23-member coalition announced a production cut despite US objections.

Rooted relationships and temporal differences

But the researcher specializing in political and strategic studies, retired Major General Muhammad bin Saleh Al-Harbi, said that the withdrawal of US forces from Saudi Arabia is a process that “can never happen.”

Al-Harbi told Al-Hurra that this was “impossible”, noting that everything happening in Washington comes within the framework of “election propaganda before November 8”, in addition to “correcting the president’s mistakes in dealing with imposing the energy file and high environmental fees on the energy sector.” Oil companies, which reflected on the American consumer.

He continued: “Regarding the statements from Democratic and Republican officials and representatives, all want to send messages to the American voter.”

There are up to 3,000 American soldiers in Saudi Arabia working to train Saudi forces and advise them on their military operations, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“On the military side, I can’t imagine that the United States would stop[Saoedi-magte]because it is not in our interest not to train the Saudis better,” says Jonathan Banikoff, director of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Initiative on Middle East Security in Washington.

He added that intelligence sharing is likely to continue as well, noting that “stopping cooperation there would undermine the national security of the United States.”

And the “Wall Street Journal” quoted US officials as saying that the damage to the military relationship could make the confrontation with Iran, the improvement of Saudi-Israeli relations and the resolution of other regional issues more difficult.

“The Saudis are trying to make their military more like ours, and the Pentagon sees that as an important initiative,” said John Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. Studies.

However, there could be some setback in the level of defense cooperation between Washington and Riyadh, the Wall Street Journal reported.

And last week, the US administration canceled its participation in a working group between the United States and the Gulf Cooperation Council on Iran that was scheduled for October 17, US officials told the newspaper.

The meeting aimed to focus on defense integration among regional allies, particularly missile defense.

The officials added that the United States could also delay annual US arms sales to Riyadh to send a message of resentment.

In a wave letter Wednesday to National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan seen by the Wall Street Journal, Senator Joni Earnest said canceling the GCC meeting “slows the capacity of partners, worsens regional security and helps our adversaries.”

In addition, Al-Harbi believes that the withdrawal of US forces from the region is not a bipartisan decision in Congress, pointing out that Washington cannot sacrifice the security of this region.

He said: “Any imbalance in the region will push oil prices above 350 dollars, and will hit the world economy, which is already going through a downturn that could reach a recession next year.”

Al-Harbi also referred to the amount of Saudi investments in the United States, which amounted to one trillion dollars, and said: “They cannot sacrifice it.”

And he added: “The Saudi-American relations are strategic and rooted … they go through differences, but they are only temporary differences,” as he put it.

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