Saudi Arabia has been in the news this week because of the recent release of a 2016 FBI report on the role of its subjects in the September 11 terrorist attacks. But there is other, more timely news from the country that the press has largely ignored: a military cooperation agreement concluded last month between Riyadh, a traditional U.S ally, and Moscow, a supporter of the anti-American Iran-Syria axis. Ilan Berman comments:
Since it took office some seven months ago, the Biden administration has upended practically every aspect of its predecessor’s approach to the [Middle East], with the 76-year U.S.-Saudi relationship one of the principal casualties. . . . The cumulative effect, as one prominent analyst put it, was an act of “diplomatic arson” in one of Washington’s longest-running partnerships in the region.
If those machinations gave Riyadh serious pause, the administration’s other regional maneuvers have given it still more. Take, for instance, team Biden’s tepid response to the “Abraham Accords.” . . . From the start of its tenure, the administration has been hesitant to recognize those agreements in any meaningful way—and quick to minimize them when it has had no choice but to do so.
That has had a chilling effect on other potential entrants, including Saudi Arabia, which at the tail end of the Trump administration was widely considered likely to become the next nation to normalize ties with Israel. Simply put, President Joe Biden’s lukewarm attitude toward Arab-Israeli reconciliation—and his apparent unwillingness to nurture any such rapprochement—has dramatically cooled Riyadh on the idea of taking such a significant (and for the Saudis, politically risky) step.
It’s no wonder, then, that the Saudis have begun looking further afield.
And not just to Moscow, notes Berman, but also to Beijing.
Read more on Newsweek: https://www.newsweek.com/riyadh-turns-east-opinion-1628484