Where is the US-Saudi relations heading?
The plot to assassinate Saudi critic and journalist Jamal Khashoggi ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in October 2018, has become a tool for American politicians to take advantage of Al Saud.
Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist critical of and opposed to the Saudi Crown Prince, went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, in October 2, 2018 for an administrative job. He was mysteriously killed and his body was never found.
The CIA blamed bin Salman for the killing after the incident, but the Trump administration, because of secret agreements with the Saudis, never took action against Saudi Crown Prince.
But new US President Joseph Biden promised to punish Saudi leaders for Khashoggi’s assassination during his campaign, and now, despite the release of a report by the U.S. Director of National Intelligence that Muhammad bin Salman was fully responsible for the assassination, the Saudi Crown Prince was removed from sanctions!
“We want to hold the Saudis accountable for their human rights abuses,” Biden said. If they want to interact and maintain relations with us, they must respect the human rights framework.
However, the Biden government’s Treasury Department has so far limited itself to boycotting General Ahmad al-Assiri and Saudi Arabia’s Rapid Intervention Force, issuing the first warning to the Saudis.
The reasons for Biden’s decision to impose sanctions on the Saudis and to remove Bin Salman from this punishment could be the following:
1- This creates a vague situation in US-Saudi relations and jeopardizes US interests in Saudi Arabia. In a way, Biden has not canceled Trump’s arms deals with Al Saud for the sake of US economic interests, and has only issued a review order, indicating that Biden intends to take advantage of the Saudis again in this regard. Most of Trump’s contracts with Al Saud will take effect in 2025, and Biden will definitely play with this card in future negotiations with the Saudis.
2- US officials in both the Trump and Biden administrations considered Saudi Arabia as a vital US partner in the so-called fight against terrorism in the West Asian region and said it was impossible to put them aside. In fact, the United States desperately needs Saudi Arabia to confront Iran and the Islamic resistance.
3- Biden trying to show that he is a patience man in foreign policy. In a way, it can be said that Biden is following the political siege of Bin Salman in Saudi Arabia with a series of measures such as the apparent lifting of sanctions against Ansar Allah and the embargo on Saudi officials regarding the assassination of Khashoggi.
US media outlets reported on the content of a telephone conversation between Biden and King Salman on regional issues and the end of the Yemeni war; But White House Public Relations Officer Kate Bedingfield said: “Biden told Saudi King Salman on February 25 that the United States would not tolerate his crown prince behavior.
Therefore, US pressure for the release of ousted Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and even his return to the post of Crown Prince is possible. Democratic politicians in the United States also see bin Nayef as a viable option for Saudi Arabia’s crown prince.
In general, what emerges from the recent development between the Biden administration and Saudi Arabia is that US policy toward the Saudis has changed, but this change only includes the Democrats’ preferred program in the structure of the Saudi government, not the weakening of the Saudis in the region.