Will the US be able to punish Saudi Arabia for friendship with Russia

Saudi Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman

Saudi Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman

A photo: REUTERS

Support Saudi Arabia decision to cut oil production from November as part of a deal OPEC+ 2 million barrels per day was taken in USA like a stab in the back of an ally whose loyalty was not in doubt before. Washington’s “special relationship” with Riyadh is over seventy years old. Perhaps for the first time in this time, the Saudis have so strongly infringed upon American interests.

Newspaper Washington Post She even wrote that Saudi Arabia is thereby helping Russia in a special military operation in Ukraine, because its participation in the deal plays into the hands of Moscow, which is interested in high oil prices. Indeed, the newspaper laments, the decision to cut production will complicate the imposition of a price ceiling on Russian oil exports, which is scheduled for December. The authors of the material draw harsh conclusions: Riyadh directly supports Russia, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud defeated President Biden, who in July begged him to increase oil production amid rising fuel prices. It is these prices that could hurt Democrats badly in next month’s midterm elections.

Saudi Arabia has said it does not use oil as a weapon and cut production not to hurt the US. But this did not help: American legislators are already proposing to draw harsh organizational conclusions against the “traitor”. A group of members of the House of Representatives proposed to withdraw the US military from the UAE and Saudi Arabia in response to the OPEC+ decision to cut oil production. The corresponding bill already exists, it provides for the withdrawal of the American contingent along with air defense systems, including Patriot and THAAD systems, as well as the cessation of arms sales. On the territory of these countries of the Persian Gulf there are American military bases, where several thousand people are serving. The United States also trains its armed forces – about 600-800 military personnel of each country annually trained in American military centers.

What are the prospects for the introduced bills, how realistic is it that the US will abandon its until recently most devoted ally in the Middle East? This question of the site KP.RU was answered by the leading researcher of the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences Boris Dolgov.

– All the threats of the Americans against Saudi Arabia, which, one might say, was the initiator of the OPEC + decision to reduce oil production, is a signal for the Saudis, but there will be no significant steps, at least in the near future. Riyadh remains a strategic ally for the United States in the confrontation with Iran, the Saudis, according to various sources, cooperate at the level of intelligence services with Israel, again against Iran. The United States remains interested in working closely with Saudi Arabia and still supports it and the Arab coalition led by it in the conflict in Yemen. So there are a number of factors that link Saudi Arabia to the United States militarily, politically and economically. In my opinion, these statements were made to put pressure on Saudi Arabia so that such actions would not be repeated in the future. Although some measures will be taken, probably as a warning to the Saudi authorities. We must not forget that Saudi Arabia still depends financially, economically, military-politically on the United States, primarily in the supply of arms and in the fact that the military elite of Saudi Arabia was and is being trained in the United States.

– In the US, they say that the decision of the Saudi prince to support the decision to reduce oil production is a kind of revenge on Biden, who accused him of involvement in the murder of Saudi journalist Khashoggi.

– This tragic episode with the murder of a journalist in Turkey in 2018, which was blamed on the leadership of Saudi Arabia, in my opinion, is no longer relevant. In July of this year, there was Biden’s visit to Riyadh, there was an expanded summit of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, led by Saudi Arabia, which was attended by representatives of Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, and at which Biden spoke. So it is unlikely that the United States will raise this issue now to use against the leadership of Saudi Arabia.

Indeed, it is clearly not in the American interests to stir up the past. Pulling Riyadh up is one thing, but going into a serious quarrel with him with unpredictable prospects is quite another. In short, the dishes in the house will be beaten, but they will not file for divorce. This is not the time for the US to initiate a break with a key partner in the Middle East. They don’t have a lot of opportunities there today. And this, by the way, is also a sign of change: it is becoming increasingly difficult for Washington to play the role of an absolute hegemon and it has to endure the slaps of its junior partners on the political stage.

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