American Prospect revealed in a new report that the US administration will no longer grant Saudi Arabia a blank check after relations between the two countries hit a new low as Saudi Arabia continues to rebuff the US president as he attempts to counter soaring oil prices prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The report submitted a proposal for repairing the strained American relationship with Saudi Arabia.
As explained by the paper, the idea would be to fix the Saudi relationship via an audacious offer of a long-term U.S. security commitment.
In return for this commitment to wage war against enemies of the Saudi state for decades to come, the Kingdom would agree to: produce an admission by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman regarding his personal responsibility for journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder; halt combat operations in Yemen; pump enough oil to moderate the price; and, most importantly, make peace with Israel.
Indeed, Martin Indyk, a Brookings Institution scholar and one of the advocates of the deal, admitted as much himself. He told the CSIS podcast, Babel, earlier this month that when these partners “think they can take us for granted, and that we’ll always be there, to protect them, in the extreme circumstances, they feel free to misbehave and also in ways that are deleterious to our interests.”
The politics of such a deal are interesting. Donald Trump scored by taking credit for the Abraham Accords, an Israeli normalization deal with several Arab states, most crucially the United Arab Emirates. An Israeli-Saudi peace agreement would surpass that. At the same time, it would counter perceptions of Biden as lukewarm toward Israel, which, depending on the timing of a treaty, Biden might calculate will help Democrats later this year or in 2024.
Clearly, the U.S.-Saudi relationship is currently on the rocks. The U.S. president won’t talk to his de facto counterpart Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), who was determined by the U.S. intelligence community to have ordered the brutal murder of American resident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey. MBS, in turn, refused to host presidential visits to Saudi Arabia, the purpose of which was to get the Kingdom to pump more oil to offset the loss of Russian fuel due to sanctions. This was not an idea that held much appeal in Riyadh.
Meanwhile, media reports revealed the interest in improving relations between Riyadh and Washington.
On Thursday, Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister of Defence Prince Khalid Bin Salman met with US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin during his US visit to Washington.
Prince Khalid bin Salman is visiting Washington this week for security talks with senior White House and Pentagon officials, two U.S. officials tell Axios.
The US is trying to improve relations with Saudi Arabia as it pushes the kingdom to increase its oil output, and ahead of President Biden’s upcoming visit to the Middle East toward the end of June.
Prince Khalid, who is the younger brother of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was the Saudi ambassador to Washington when Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in 2018.
He left the post several months later in the aftermath of the killing and was appointed deputy minister of defence.