The world is shockingly witnessing the shifting trends which are indicating the end of the ‘golden period’ of the US and Saudi Arabia relations.
The US is notorious for making new allies and breaking up with the older bonds as per its interests ostensibly in the name of ‘strengthening democracy’ or ‘protecting human rights. But, nowadays this tactic is not working. Instead of having new friends, the US is losing its old friends. Saudi Arabia is the most recent critical example of it.
Refusal of Saudi Arabia to increase oil production
First, Saudi ignored Joe Biden’s call and when the US requested to raise “oil production” to “the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries” (OPEC), Saudi answered it will take a decision after discussing it with OPEC PLUS countries. OPEC PLUS includes Russia. Surprisingly, instead of increasing oil production, OPEC PLUS has taken a shocking decision of reducing the production of oil. Resultantly, Biden intends to re-evaluate its ties with Saudi.
Saudi Arabia: a potential threat to the petrodollar hegemony
The most important news circulating nowadays, Saudi is inclined to join BRICS, which has America’s hard-core rivals: China and Russia. BRICS includes five “emerging economies”: “Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.” It aims at promoting security, cooperation, development, and peace. This joining will challenge the petrodollar affair. According to “Wall Street Journal”, Saudi is considering accepting Chinese currency, the Yuan, rather than dollars for “Chinese oil sales”. China consumes more than 25% of its oil export from Saudi, and the payment exchange in Yuan will challenge the hegemony of the US dollar. Now, the question is: Us-Saudi relation’s ‘golden period’ ended? If so, is Russia behind it?
The landmark shift
In February 2022, Russia attacked Ukraine resulting in sanctions on Russia from the West. These sanctions aimed at isolating President Putin and weakening Russia’s economy. Every possible effort was made to exploit its economy’s lifeline: oil export. Ironically, this strategy backfired. This plan dramatically failed and it is giving birth to drastic political and economic disaster in the West. On the other hand, Russia has discovered new markets for its sustainability. Saudi has become a healthy revenue-generating source for Russia.
Reasons for the disassociation of Saudi Arabia from the US
- The main reason behind this shift from the US to Russia is that the US has stopped supporting Saudis in Yemen. Saudi sees Biden as a successor of Obama who advocated Arab Spring in the Middle East. Obama remained so concerned about Iran’s nuclear deal and he wanted to reduce its military presence in this region. Owing to all these reasons, Saudis never liked Obama. Like Obama, Biden is adopting the same approach. Joe Biden has been calling Saudi a Pariah state. He has made Muhammad bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi, responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s (Saudi journalist) murder. Biden halted many arms deals with Saudi Arabia.
- Saudi has said that the US has made many compromises in the last few years regarding the security commitments of Saudi. The US did not support Saudi intervention in Yemen.
- Moreover, the US went back overnight from Afghanistan, ignoring the security complications in the region. All these happenings have widened the gap between the two countries. Saudi has tried to express its dissent by dethroning pro-US crown prince Muhammad bin Nayyar through a silent coup, but the US did not pay any attention.
WHY the US did not pay attention?
The reason is Shale Gas Revolution. Owing to that the Middle East’s importance has plummeted for the US. Today the US consumes less than 5 percent of Saudi’s crude oil export.
The inclination of Saudi Arabia toward Russia
Now, Saudi Arabia’s importers are far eastern countries such as China, India, and Taiwan. That’s why Saudi is shifting its obedience to Russia. Today, whatever Saudi takes a decision regarding international politics, this shift can easily be seen. For example, Saudi has not condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Instead, Kingdom’s holding company has invested more than 600 million dollars in Russia.
OPEC PLUS decision and challenges for the US
Another Saudi-Russia alliance is the decision of OPEC PLUS countries decision of reducing their daily output to 2 million barrels per day from the first of November. It will affect America drastically. President Biden is going to face his midterm election with the situation of rising fuel prices, record-breaking inflation, and poor public support. Biden has warned Saudi of facing severe consequences of this decision, but the Kingdom has ignored these warnings.
The US is on the horns of a dilemma
Democratic Senator Bob Mendez has told the US to completely freeze its weapons sales with Saudi Arabia, but the Kingdom consumes 24 percent of the US arms sales. If the US freezes these sales, the buyer will be further aligned toward Russia. The US is also thinking of withdrawing its troops from Saudi Arabia, but Russia and China are ready to fill this gap. So, it is also not a feasible option.
The US has tried to defame Saudi regarding supporting the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but Saudi has said that ties with Russia are purely economic and played a very smart move of announcing 400 million dollars in aid to Ukraine. For the US, there is a well on one side, and a ditch on the other. Shreds of evidence and indications are showing that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is going to dissociate from the West in this world of diplomacy and geopolitics.