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HomeGeopolitical CompassArabian PeninsulaA Tough Nut to Crack: Rebalancing the US-Saudi Relationship

A Tough Nut to Crack: Rebalancing the US-Saudi Relationship

Author: Charles W. Dunne

Affiliation: Arab Center, Washington DC

Organization/Publisher: Arab Center Washington DC

Date/Place: June 2, 2021/USA

Type of Literature: Analysis

Word Count: 2288


Keywords: Rapprochement, New Directions, Human Rights, Muhammad bin Salman


Part of Biden’s presidential campaign was opposing Trump’s explicit support of authoritarianism, especially the support shown to the Saudis. Though the post-election US approach to Saudi Arabia hasn’t been as drastic as it was hoped by some, the current state of affairs is the product of a transactional relation. The Saudis are insecure with America’s shift to the Indo-Pacific and the US shifting approaches to the Iranian issue as shown by Trump. This has led them towards active diplomacy with Turkey, ending the Qatar embargo and having direct talks with Iranian officials. The somewhat unintended general rapprochement among Middle Eastern states became beneficial to the US, giving it the needed space to redirect resources somewhere else. The Biden administration has been lenient towards the Saudis but not inactive, avoiding personal relations by directly contacting King Salman and ending active support to the Yemeni war. A review of relations to ensure US’ interests is necessary; it is to be balanced by consideration for human rights within the Kingdom, as well as reconsidering relations with Mohammad bin Salman. Workarounds are possible since Saudi Arabia depends on the US for its security and interests.

By: Omar Fili, CIGA Research Assistant



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