The Gulf’s two oil industry heavyweights – Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – have been staunch US allies in the Arab world for decades. But now the strength of their friendship fundamentally examines their relationship with Moscow and Vladimir Putin. The reason for this is the rise in inflation, which extends to the wallets of Americans.
Although US President Joe Biden took the unprecedented step of releasing one million barrels of oil a day from strategic reserves for six months to reduce oil and fuel prices at gas stations, he did not failed to persuade Arab allies to start extracting resources from a weakened Russia. position and ability to finance the war in Ukraine.
GRAPH: The largest oil producers
At the turn of 2021/2022, in millions of barrels per day
Source: tradingeconomics.com, IEA
Loss of American influence
Although global attention is focused on Ukraine and neighboring countries, the Middle East is beginning to play a role in shaping America’s geopolitical posture. It has been the dominant player in the region since the Second World War.
The two influential Arab countries are rejecting President Biden’s push to start extracting more oil, helping to stabilize energy market prices. Relations between Washington and the Persian Gulf have cooled considerably.
On the contrary, Dubai is becoming a center of Russian wealth. Many wealthy Russians have already settled in this wealthy region. In addition, the Americans are trying to mediate tensions with Tehran over a new Obama-era nuclear deal that would allow sanctions to be lifted and Iran could increase its oil supplies to world markets.
Disillusionment with Biden
Analysts and officials from Abu Dhabi and Riyadh do not hide their disillusionment with the policy of the Democratic president. Western diplomats suggest that their Arab colleagues tell them they are tired of Biden and the United States.
Former Al-Arabiya editor Mohamed Al-Jahia even published his criticism of the Americans in the “hostile” Israeli daily Jerusalem Post.
“The relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States is in crisis. I am increasingly concerned about the unreality of the American debate on this subject, which often does not realize the depth and gravity of the fracture”, wrote the influential journalist.
Above all, he recalls the actions of Barack Obama, who negotiated a nuclear agreement with Tehran in 2015, which the Saudis cannot forgive. And they see Biden as a follow-up to his policy that he wants to improve relations with Iran after Trump’s time in the White House.
The seven-decade-long relationship between Riyadh and Washington is therefore in “divorce proceedings”. The Saudis fear that the Iranians are building a nuclear bomb that will threaten (apart from Israel) the rest of the predominantly Sunni Arab world.
Why should we help Americans?
“Why should America’s regional allies help Washington keep Russia in Europe while Washington is strengthening Russia and Iran’s position in the Middle East,” Al-Jahia said. Moreover, China, which offers Riyadh much better conditions than the Americans, also wants to strengthen its influence in the region.
|Boris Johnson was also stranded in the Gulf|
|The UK has also decided to ban imports of oil and gas from Russia. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, one of Ukraine’s biggest allies, and President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Saudi Arabia and the Emirates to negotiate larger supplies of energy products to the islands. However, he was met with restraint from Arab leaders and returned home without any concrete commitment to increase the supply of oil to the world market.|
“Beijing is offering Riyadh a simple deal: sell us your oil and choose the military equipment you want from our catalog. In return, help us stabilize global energy markets. »
It is much the same thing that the Americans offered to the Arab world after World War II, thereby ensuring post-war economic growth.
Brett McGurk, the White House coordinator for the Middle East, is trying to settle relations in Riyadh, which produces more than ten million barrels of oil a day and is the largest oil producer after the United States and Russia .
Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Prince Mohamed bin Salman, and Sheikh Mohamed bin Said in the Emirates are very suspicious of Biden and the rectification of relations with Iran. They also resent the fact that the Americans do not support the Saudis enough in the fighting against the Husi in Yemen.
Trader Trump and F-35 fighters
He recalls the commercial approach of Donald Trump, who was more successful in signing American arms contracts in the Arab world.
In January 2021, Biden froze tens of billions in business after joining the White House. He also suspended the delivery of 50 modern F-35 fighters worth $23 billion for the Emirates.
China easily seized the opportunity to fill the “cannon” hole in American armaments. It helps Riyadh, for example, to develop ballistic missiles.
Renowned political science professor Abdulchalek Abdulla of New York University Abu Dhabi says the crisis with Washington is the deepest in fifty years. The UAE’s relationship with the United States is now at a crossroads and a number of misunderstandings need to be resolved by the Biden administration.
The Emirates are more confident than before
According to him, the Emirates itself is a much more confident country than in previous decades, and American diplomacy should take this into account. “The UAE has invested heavily in its relationship with Washington. We allocated the bulk of our SWF investments to US markets and wanted to increase trade with Washington,” Abdulla complained.
The cancellation of modern fighter procurement activity is an insult to the leadership of the United Arab Emirates. Therefore, the demand for increased oil production is perceived by the sheikhs as unacceptable American pressure.
The Arab states also recall that the Americans are no longer the sole superpower, as was the case after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Moreover, the two oil producers do not want to sever ties with Russia, which still remains a major geopolitical player.