Newspaper revealed “Wall Street JournalAmerica, details of new American measures to create a “balance” in the relationship with Saudi Arabia. Noting that the new US administration is about to amend and review Washington’s policy towards Riyadh.
The American newspaper quoted officials as saying that the Biden administration is not currently planning to establish contact with the Saudi crown prince. Mohammed bin Salman. However, there is a desire to reach a balance that allows for further review procedures of the Kingdom’s policy without causing a rupture of the strategic partnership that has passed so far seventy-six years.
A review process for relations with Saudi Arabia
The newspaper says that the process of reviewing relations with the oil-rich kingdom is broader than the reports indicated, in addition to arms sales. And the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, US officials emphasized that the review process includes an assessment. Whether the United States has done enough to hold Saudi officials accountable for the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as well as other areas in the relations between the two countries.
Try to find a balance
During his election campaign, Biden described Saudi Arabia as a “pariah”, but since then, the new administration has adopted a different tone. She stressed that the United States would help defend the kingdom from attacks by Iranian-backed forces in the region.
Likewise, current and former officials believe that while relations have deteriorated over the past decade, Washington and Riyadh remain. They need each other on many fronts, from the conflict with Iran to coordination on counterterrorism and energy policies.
For his part, said Dennis Ross, who held key positions related to the Middle East in the administrations of Democratic and Republican presidents. “It is very difficult to imagine the possibility of any strategy of any kind succeeding in the region if the Saudis were not part of it.”
Based on Biden’s early steps, Ross added, “I can see an attempt to find a balance, to send a message that we are ready to impose some limits. On Saudi behavior.
Messages coming from Riyadh
On the other hand, the Saudis sent their own messages, as, on Wednesday, February 10, the government released the activist Loujain Al-Hathloul. Even on conditionally, she is still being monitored and subject to a travel ban.
Two Saudi royal advisers also said that reducing Al-Hathloul’s sentence came at the request of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Who sought to relieve pressure from Washington. Biden welcomed Al-Hathloul’s release.
While hailing Al-Hathloul’s release, human rights defenders expressed uncertainty whether Biden would make such issues a priority in the long term.
“It would be a very horrific outcome if the Saudi monarchy were to return,” said Songev Berry, executive director of the rights organization Freedom Forward. A year from now, to internal repression and external interference, simply because he has reached the conclusion that Western governments are turning the page. According to the Arabic Post translation.
The human rights file and the Khashoggi case
Despite all the indications referred to above, a potential US-Saudi tension looms over the issue of human rights, more sensitive to Riyadh.
The White House pledged to publish an unclassified report on the role of Saudi officials in the killing and dismemberment of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. A classified assessment by the CIA had determined, at a medium to high level of confidence, that Prince Mohammed bin Salman likely ordered the killing of Khashoggi.
While the crown prince denied this, he said he bears ultimate responsibility as the de facto ruler of the country.
It is reported that the Trump administration had imposed sanctions on 17 other Saudi officers and officials, whom it said had a role in Khashoggi’s killing. Other steps the Biden administration might take might include additional sanctions against Saudis, or publishing more of what the United States knows about the killing.
Challenges facing Washington
This is something that former US officials have indicated, and they believe Biden will have to be aware of the changes that Saudi Arabia has undergone. And the region in recent years, when it reassessed the US approach.
In this context, Christine Fontenrose, who oversaw Gulf affairs at the US National Security Council under Trump, says China and Russia. They increased their involvement in the Gulf; In the hope of displacing the United States from its place as the security axis of the region. She added that relying on Beijing and Moscow would not be ideal from a Saudi perspective, “but we are also not the only option.”
The history of US-Saudi relations goes back to Valentine’s Day in 1945, when President Franklin Roosevelt met King Abdulaziz bin Saud. The founder of Saudi Arabia, aboard an American warship in the Suez Canal, and struck an agreement: that America provide security to the Saudis, and that the Saudis provide access to oil.
For the United States, this agreement was severely damaged by the attacks of 11 September 2001 and the Saudi military campaign in Yemen.
US nuclear deal with Iran
As for the Saudis, Gulf officials say that the US nuclear deal with Iran has normalized the relationship with anxiety. Biden said. He will resume nuclear negotiations with Iran, but with strict conditions.
Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy said Washington did not need Riyadh’s support to begin negotiations on re-accession. To the Iranian nuclear deal that Trump withdrew from.
“We must cooperate with the Saudis where our goals are shared,” Murphy said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal. As in intelligence sharing and combating terrorism, but this does not mean that we have to support every Saudi move. In the region at the expense of US national security interests.
Riyadh’s public response after Biden announced it was halting remaining US support for the Saudi military offensive in Yemen was the focus. On the shared threats from Iran and Yemen, as well as on Biden’s pledge to help the kingdom defend itself.
Ross said that as President Biden reshapes relations, he should not overlook the changes the prince has brought about. Mohammed bin Salman inside Saudi Arabia, including providing more rights for women and reducing the authority of the religious establishment. And trying to diversify the economy. He added that those changes are “in our interest to a large extent as well.”
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