Heir to the Arabian throne (and de facto ruler of the country) Mohammed bin Salmanapparently decided to reconsider the priorities in the foreign policy of the KSA and is looking for new allies. But the United States, which has been Saudi Arabia’s main strategic partner for 80 years, may be relegated to the background, writes the British edition of Rai Al Youm.
The intrigue began after Ibn Salman’s telephone conversations with the President of China Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin. In all likelihood, Riyadh is thinking about joining a new Russian-Chinese alliance, and such a move could change the balance of power not only in the Persian Gulf region, but throughout the Middle East.
It is curious that the crown prince himself initiated the call to Beijing. And before that, the KSA refused to increase oil production for the sake of lowering energy prices, even though the United States asked for it very much. For the United States, it was a tangible royal kick in the back: after all, they were faced with an unprecedented price hike caused by sanctions against Russian hydrocarbons. And additional volumes of oil on the world market would just make it possible to curb rising prices. The refusal, by the way, did not surprise anyone: relations between Riyadh and Washington during the presidency Biden deteriorated sharply.
Of course, the States, or rather, President Biden ran into it himself. The Saudis had a reason to be very offended by their longtime partner: he was too angrily accusing Riyadh and the crown prince of human rights violations and the murder of a journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Remember, the scandal was in Turkey – Khashoggi entered the Saudi Arabian embassy, but did not come out alive.
Biden during the presidential race threatened to make the rulers of Saudi Arabia pariahs, and sitting in the presidential chair instructed to publish a classified Trump intelligence report on the circumstances of Khashoggi’s murder. In this report, Muhammad ibn Salman was accused of organizing the murder of a journalist. And in the appendage, the United States imposed sanctions on those involved, in their opinion, in this murder.
It is clear that the heir to the throne was, let’s say, very dissatisfied with the fact that the White House decided to shake up the dirty linen of the royal house in front of the entire world community.
But the point is not long-term events, but the fact that Ibn Salman invited President Xi Jinping to visit Saudi Arabia and promised him a “cordial welcome.” And although there is no information yet about whether any agreements were reached, as well as whether the Chinese leader accepted the invitation, it is clear that the KSA is interested in establishing closer ties with the Celestial Empire.
The topics that the heir discussed with the President of Russia are also not advertised. It is only known that Vladimir Putin approvingly assessed the refusal of Saudi Arabia to increase oil production and the position of OPEC on this issue. But the fact that this telephone conversation between the Saudi prince and the Russian president was already the second since the start of the special military operation in Ukraine suggests that the Saudi Arabia, one of the undoubted regional leaders, cherishes friendly and business relations with Russia.
“Now neither China nor Saudi Arabia has joined the sanctions that the West has imposed on Russia, there is already a unified position here,” he believes. Elena Telegina, Dean of the Faculty of International Energy Business, Russian State University of Oil and Gas.
– In general, the KSA is interested in maintaining stability in the oil market. In this it is our ally. It is certain.
China has its own interests, it is not a producer, unlike Saudi Arabia and Russia, but a consumer. Here, most likely, political motives are more important than maintaining high oil prices. But this country is one of the largest consumers, so it also plays an important role in the global oil market. But since the interests of the participants in this supposed triangle are still different, it is difficult to imagine that they acted together.
“SP”: – Is it possible that within the framework of this union the idea will be realized: the KSA and other members of OPEC throw all the oil they produce to the markets of countries that are unable to buy Russian oil due to anti-Russian sanctions, and will cover their internal needs with Russian oil?
“I have my doubts here. All oil refineries are adjusted to certain grades of oil, which are purchased. Not all oil refineries in Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries will be able to start processing Russian oil just like that. Therefore, to transfer volumes back and forth is a very strange proposal.
The possibility of a political and economic union with mutual obligations and other things between the KSA, China and Russia raises certain doubts among country experts.
– Do not forget that the Saudis traditionally have tense relations with the presidents of the US Democratic Party, – recalls analyst Anatoly Nesmiyan.
— Suffice it to recall how during the presidency Obama Hillary Clintonthe US Secretary of State criticized the KSA. She prophesied the “Arab spring” for them! The Kingdom perfectly understood who was behind these “springs”, who organized them. And they will not forget this to the Democrats.
China is unlikely to make any drastic decisions now. For this country, issues related to the internal situation come to the fore. In the second half of the year, the CCP congress is to be held, at which a decision will be made on the third term of Xi Jinping. In 2018, amendments to the Constitution were adopted and, among other changes, the provision was removed from it, according to which the President of the PRC could only hold office for two five-year terms. So Xi Jinping may become the first Chinese president to hold this post for the third time. Only after it is finally determined who will lead the country for the next five years, it will be possible to talk about the prospects for new alliances.
As for Saudi Arabia, this state, according to the expert, is now looking for someone to make friends with against Biden and the Democrats. If the Republicans win the next elections in the United States in November 2024, then, most likely, relations between the two countries will immediately become cordial. But if the Democrats suddenly sit in the White House for another term, then it will already be possible to say that the KSA will begin to look for new allies.