| 18 April 2024, Thursday |

Biden in Jeddah, Re-commitment to Strategic Relationship with Saudi Arabia

The visit of US President Joe Biden to Saudi Arabia and his talks with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, constituted an opportunity to advance relations between the two countries and confirm adherence to their strategic relationship, which dates back to more than 80 years.


As Biden concludes his trip on Saturday by participating in the Gulf-US-regional Jeddah Summit for Security and Development, attention was focused on his meetings with the Saudi leadership on Friday, in the first visit to an Arab country since he assumed office in January 2021.


The photos of the US president with King Salman and Prince Mohammed bin Salman made news headlines globally, amid widespread interest in what appeared to be an American recognition of the importance of the relationship with Saudi Arabia, which was also reflected by new expected agreements between the two countries.


Biden’s visit to the Kingdom constitutes a clear change in US priorities, according to sources accompanying the president. Those noted that Biden’s statements about correcting the mistake of the American retreat from the region suggested that Washington and Riyadh were turning a new page of relations.


The sources pointed to Biden’s remarks on the US role in the region, in which he said: “This trip is about once again positioning America in this region for the future. We are not going to leave a vacuum in the Middle East for Russia or China to fill. And we’re getting results.”


The US President’s visit to Saudi Arabia comes amid global and regional developments of concern to both countries.

On the global level, the repercussions of the Russian attack on Ukraine constituted a shock to the world economy, amid efforts by the Americans to mobilize as many countries as possible behind their stance on this crisis, including their steps aimed at isolating Russia internationally.


The United States also wants assistance from oil-producing countries to increase their production in order to reduce prices that rose as a result of the Ukrainian crisis. Democrats fear that soaring energy prices in the United States will make them lose the midterm elections to the Republicans in November.


Saudi Arabia has reiterated its support to all efforts that curb the escalation and protect civilians in Ukraine and all international endeavors to resolve the crisis politically, according to statements made by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan.


As for the rise in oil production, OPEC has announced an increase, but the decision in this context does not go back to Saudi Arabia alone, because the Kingdom is committed to the decisions of the OPEC Plus alliance.


Biden’s visit is also expected to touch on Iran, including US efforts to revive the nuclear agreement and the roles played by Tehran’s arms in the region.


The United States has emphasized more than once that it would not allow a nuclear-armed Iran, which Biden has reiterated during his current tour of the Middle East.


The Americans have condemned Iran’s destabilizing activity in the region, whether directly or through groups affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The US is expected to explain to the Saudi leadership its policy towards Iran, and also to Arab and GCC leaders during Saturday’s summit, which will also be attended by the leaders of Egypt, Jordan and Iraq.


Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia also comes in light of the efforts made by the United States to normalize relations between Israel and its Arab neighbors.


A US official quoted by Reuters said that the US president would encourage peace and press for a more integrated Middle East.


The official added that other topics of discussion would include the need to strengthen the truce in Yemen, to achieve “balance” of energy markets, and promote technological cooperation in the 5G and 6G networks.


Biden’s talks with the Saudi leadership are also expected to give a boost to the bilateral ties between the two countries.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat