Biden may retract close US-Saudi ties under Trump

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US NBC news network has reported experts predicting that close US-Saudi ties under President Donald Trump may change under President-elect Joe Biden.

The friendship between the US and Saudi Arabia has grown warmer as Trump placed the kingdom at the heart of his Middle East policy, backing its stance against Iran and encouraging its purchase of US-made weapons.

However, NBC disclosed that Biden has pledged to “reassess” the US relationship with Saudi Arabia, reporting that it would likely have a less privileged and personal relationship with the Biden administration than it had with the Trump team.

Trump also stood beside the crown prince when the CIA found that he had ordered the brutal killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in October 2018.

But Biden, according to NBC, has described Saudi Arabia as a “pariah” and has confirmed that he believes Khashoggi was murdered on the orders of the crown prince.

Biden vowed to end US support for the Saudi war in Yemen, which has so far has killed more than 112,000 people and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, leaving millions suffering from food and medical shortages.

READ: The future of American democracy: Inequality, polarisation and violence

The US president-elect has also suggested that he would stop selling weapons to Riyadh and pledged to defend the rights of political dissidents around the world, NBC divulged. He has also expressed a willingness to re-enter the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran.

“What they are going to lose is the complete immunity that Trump has given them and the personal access,” according to Yasmine Farouk, a visiting fellow in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, referring to political immunity.

Michael Stephens, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London, told NBC: “It won’t be, I think, that the Biden administration is just going to turn on the Saudis tomorrow and start telling them that they’re bad and they need to shape up.”

Stephens expects the Middle East to be fairly far down the Biden administration’s list of priorities.

Najah Al-Otaibi, a Saudi political analyst based in London, does not consider that the US-Saudi relationship will weaken under Biden: “Saudi Arabia through history worked with every single president, whether Republican or Democrat, because what shaped Saudi-US relations is the strategic interests between the two countries.”

Middle East Monitor

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