Why Saudi Arabia Remains an American Ally

Saudi Arabia
President Donald Trump meets with Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, and members of his delegation, Tuesday, March 14, 2017, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead).

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Saudi Arabia as an American Ally

President Joe Biden plans to visit Saudi Arabia in a scheduled trip to Europe and Israel. Normally, the visit would come across as business as usual. Saudi Arabia has been a key American ally in the Middle East for decades. However, President Biden tried to take a tougher stand after Saudi Arabia killed the journalist Jamal Khashoggi at their consulate in Turkey. At the time Joe Biden had not formally declared his candidacy for the Presidential nomination. But the details of this gruesome deed leaked out over months. Despite all this President Trump did not take any meaningful action.

So, Biden as a candidate drew a principled contrast to Trump when he described Saudi Arabia as a pariah nation. After he won the presidency, he took steps to distance his administration away from Saudi Arabia. Some actions had only symbolic value like when the administration released an intelligence report that held the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), directly responsible. But others had real consequences such as a pause and a review on arms sales. Nonetheless, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has altered the political calculus. The United States needs its allies now more than ever. Moreover, it needs a broad coalition to defeat Russia politically and economically as well as militarily in Ukraine.

Unfortunately, this pivot clouds efforts to reclaim the liberal world order. Liberalism and Democracy often took a backseat to geopolitical considerations during the Cold War. It looks like the world may enter a similar era once again. This is more than a domestic political calculation over the price of gas in the US. America needs to increase the global supply of oil and natural gas to ease political pressures in other countries as well. Things have changed, but so much continues to remain the same.

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