Washington and Riyadh are facing a critical stage… What does it mean to “reevaluate” the relationship with the Kingdom?

Recently, the US administration expressed a desire to take measures to improve relations with Saudi Arabia, following their deterioration since the arrival of President Joe Biden to the White House, who was keen not to overlook the human rights record in the kingdom do not see, especially the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. .

Biden’s visit to the kingdom helped strengthen relations between the two sides, but cooperation between Riyadh and Moscow to cut oil production and raise its prices has clearly angered Washington, prompting the administration and Congress to “reevaluation” of the relationship.

A White House official said Tuesday that Biden will reevaluate relations with Saudi Arabia following the decision by the “OPEC Plus” alliance to cut oil production.

The National Security Council’s Strategic Communications Coordinator, John Kirby, told reporters that “certainly in light of recent developments, and the OPEC Plus decision on oil production, the president believes that we need to review the bilateral relationship with Saudi Arabia to see whether this relationship is where it should be.” to be in it, and that it serves our national security interests.”

The recent developments may cast a shadow over the future of the relationship between the two countries, and determine Biden’s handling of the Kingdom at a critical stage the world is going through due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Biden was in Saudi Arabia last July

It has not been resolved yet

US political experts and analysts who spoke to Al-Hurra say the move to “re-evaluate” relations with Saudi Arabia could mean a different set of things, ranging from “examining the available options” to other measures, such as a fellow at the Washington Institute for Studies, says Anna Proshevskaya. However, others say that the hand of the US administration may be tied by a “clear advantage” of Saudi Arabia imposed by the current international situation.

“President Biden may be open to talking with members of Congress about the nature of relations between the two countries, but the issue is not yet settled, but rather it is a consideration of possible options,” Provichskaya told Al- Hooray said.

Provichskaya does not believe this marks a “transformation” in relations between the two countries, at least for now, adding: “There are certainly loud voices in Congress calling for tough measures such as ending a number of arms deals, for example.”

But it is “still early at this moment because Saudi Arabia is still an important strategic partner of the United States, and we have to wait and see.”

Kirby’s comments came a day after influential Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, attacked Saudi Arabia, saying Riyadh was “effectively supporting Russia in its brutal invasion of Ukraine.”

In a statement, Menendez called for an immediate freeze on “all aspects of our cooperation with Saudi Arabia,” vowing to use his power to prevent “future arms sales” to the kingdom.

“There is simply no room to play either side of this conflict – either to support the rest of the free world in an effort to prevent a war criminal from violently wiping an entire country off the map, or to ( (the war criminal) to support,” Menendez said.

“Saudi Arabia chose the latter in a terrible decision driven by economic self-interest,” he added.

Influential US senator threatens to block arms sales to Saudi Arabia

The Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the US Senate, influential Senator Bob Menendez, threatened on Monday to block all future arms sales to Saudi Arabia, because of its “support” of Russia’s war in Ukraine, with his decision within the framework. of the “OPEC Plus” alliance to reduce oil production.

“Saudi Arabia clearly wants Russia to win the war in Ukraine,” Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois said Tuesday morning.

“Let’s be very honest about this, Putin and Saudi Arabia are against the United States,” he told CNN, stressing that “Saudi Arabia is not a reliable ally.”

The Saudi-Russian deal came just days before the violent Russian bombing of Ukrainian civilian areas, in response to the bombing of a vital bridge in Crimea. It also coincided with international efforts to set a price ceiling for Russian oil to deprive Moscow of additional financial imports to finance the war, and a major retreat to the front for the Russian army.

Washington needs Saudi Arabia's support on Middle East issues

Washington needs Saudi Arabia’s support on Middle East issues

“Limited Options”

However, US options “may be limited,” according to Richard Weitz, a fellow at the Hudson Institute for Strategic Studies.

Weitz told Al-Hurra that President Biden “has said similar things in the past, and the United States has said this since the oil crisis in the 1970s, and after the targeting of the World Trade Center and the murder of Khashoggi, but without strong measures.”

“I don’t expect big measures” against Saudi Arabia, he added.

And “Riyadh seems to think so too,” according to Weitz, who said that Riyadh is in a “very strong negotiating position. We need them to produce energy, we need them to strengthen the Ibrahim agreements, and we need their support to deal with it. Iran, Lebanon, Iraq and other places.”

He added, “The Saudis have other partners, namely China and Russia, who have become more involved in the Middle East than they were before, which gives the Saudi administration other options than the United States.”

“I think the current Saudi leadership didn’t like the way they were treated in the first year of the Biden administration compared to the way Trump treated them,” he added.

Some foreign policy veterans warned Biden against taking drastic action, and Martin Indyk, a former Middle East diplomat who now works at the Council on Foreign Relations, told the New York Times that “the United States is entering a new should seek strategic agreement with Saudi Arabia rather than a divorce from it.” “.

“A more responsible Saudi leadership”

“We need more responsible Saudi leadership when it comes to oil production and regional behavior. They need a more reliable American security understanding to deal with the threats they face. We need to step back from the brink,” he added. .

Aaron David Miller, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who has also spent many years in government dealing with Middle East affairs, said Biden should consider the potential pitfalls of breaking away from Saudi Arabia, a important American ally in the struggle, assessed. against terrorism and against Iran in the region.

Biden came under heavy criticism for his visit to Saudi Arabia in July despite his campaign pledge to make the kingdom an international “pariah” for the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Senior Biden administration officials said at the time that restoring relations with Saudi Arabia was worth the political sacrifice for several reasons, such as the need to strengthen energy markets given efforts to isolate Russia, one of the world’s largest oil producers.

While no specific announcements were made during Biden’s visit to Jeddah in July, US officials said at the time that they had an understanding with Saudi Arabia that it would increase oil production in the fall and lower oil prices ahead of key congressional elections.

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