At a time when Saudi-US relations were strained against the backdrop of the OPEC Plus alliance’s decision to cut crude oil production, a report by the “Economist” magazine described the relationship between the two countries as a ” unhappy marriage” that will continue for years to come.
And the report of the British magazine considers that the separation of the wife in Saudi Arabia is a repetition of the divorce three times, but “fortunately … the separation is more difficult in diplomacy.”
“The Economist” believes that a complete breakdown of relations is completely unlikely, despite the “erosion” of the “oil-for-security” agreement that has underpinned Washington’s relationship with Riyadh for decades.
The report said that “no one knows what will replace it,” referring to the “oil for security” that has anchored US relations with the Arab Gulf states.
Since October 5, when the Organization of Petroleum Producing Countries (OPEC) and its allies, known as “OPEC Plus”, decided to cut oil production by 2 million barrels per day starting in November, relations between the United States and Riyadh have fallen to their lowest level in decades, according to the magazine.
The Democrats in Washington appear determined to abandon their partner of 77 years, said the “Economist” report, which also noted that the Gulf states are angered by what they see as “America’s cynical and disrespectful tone.”
President Joe Biden accused Saudi Arabia of siding with Russia because high prices would revive Vladimir Putin’s treasury, saying “there will be some consequences” for the kingdom.
The US administration also announced that it would “re-evaluate” relations between Washington and Riyadh against the backdrop of this decision, which exceeded analysts’ expectations.
The Saudi Foreign Ministry responded to Biden’s pledge to re-evaluate relations with Riyadh after the OPEC Plus alliance decision with an “extraordinary” statement, accusing the United States of distorting the facts and saying said the White House had requested a one-month delay. in the reduction.
“Stick in Misery”
Saudi Arabia insisted that the decision comes within a “purely economic” framework and is not related to politics, as Democrats in Washington believe that the Saudis want to help the Republicans in the midterm elections; Because high oil prices are hurting the current administration.
Other Gulf states have sided with Saudi Arabia and issued statements supporting Riyadh. Kuwait and Bahrain, both members of the OPEC Plus alliance and partners of the United States, said they had agreed to cut production.
Even the UAE, which sometimes disagrees with Saudi Arabia on oil policy, has publicly supported Riyadh.
On the sidelines of a conference in Abu Dhabi earlier this month, an Emirati energy executive was angry about Washington’s response to the production cuts.
The official believes this is rhetoric from the colonial era. “Who is this? Who is Joe Biden? These are our resources,” he growled.
Emirati professor of political science, Abdul Khaliq Abdullah, said that Democrats need to “wake up” and accept that the Gulf is “ready to say no to America.”
Ali al-Shihabi, a Saudi political analyst close to the royal court, questioned whether the kingdom would withdraw from OPEC and form a smaller private alliance.
“Saudi Arabia can easily function without OPEC and coordinate production with two or three major players in particular,” he said.
In a related context, Martin Indyk, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, a former adviser on Middle East affairs to former US President Barack Obama, said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had disowned on his commitment to Biden to provide additional oil.
“That was the commitment the crown prince made when the president (Biden) was there. But there was an agreement not to announce the details. They didn’t honor that commitment,” said Indyk, speaking online for an event sponsored by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Indyk described Saudi Arabia’s reluctance to consider the bigger picture or its relationship with the United States as “extremely problematic.”
The Economist report indicates that the Saudis and their neighbors are unwilling to give away billions in revenue to help Biden’s party win a few more votes.
After two decades of disastrous wars in the region, most Americans want to get away from it. Some Gulf officials hope that a possible presidency of Donald Trump in 2025 will strengthen relations with Washington, but his wing in the Republican Party is not keen to protect the oil-rich Gulf states.
Despite their frustrations with the United States, the Gulf states do not have a good alternative, since Russia cannot act as a protector and supplier of weapons.
With his military faltering in Ukraine, Putin needs whatever weapons his economy, crippled by sanctions against the impact of his own fighting, can produce. Russia also offers few prospects for trade and investment.
China is a more useful partner, as it is not bothered by human rights issues, and Beijing is a major source of investment, but it is not interested in ensuring the security of the Gulf. China, like Russia, maintains friendly relations with Iran, the arch-rival of the Arab Gulf states.
That is why America and the Gulf states are at least for the time being “miserably stuck”.