The agency expected that a set of issues would represent points of contention between the two parties, including Riyadh’s record in the field of human rights and the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi as well as the Yemen war.
The agency said that the issue that preoccupies Saudi Arabia is how Biden deals with “Tehran’s ballistic missiles and its support for regional powers working for it in any talks to revive the international nuclear deal with Iran, from which Washington withdrew in 2018.” In this context, the agency quoted five regional sources and diplomats as saying that “Biden’s victory will not upside down alliances existing for decades.” However, they said, Biden “may combine US support with more difficult terms.”
For his part, a Gulf source said: “Challenges will emerge, but there are strategic institutional relationships in the long term, and no one wants to break the back of a camel, although the Biden administration will want accommodation.”
In turn, a foreign diplomat in the region commented, “I would imagine that (Biden) will demand a few significant concessions … and maybe something related to women’s rights defenders.”Biden had pledged in the election campaign to reassess relations with Saudi Arabia, the oil export giant and the main buyer of American weapons, and to demand greater accountability for those responsible for Khashoggi’s killing in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and an end to US support for the Yemen war.
In parallel, the agency addressed Trump’s threat last April to Saudi Arabia to withdraw military support that was reinforced after the attacks on Saudi oil facilities in 2019, against the backdrop of the chaos caused by the oil war between Riyadh and Moscow and its impact on the US shale oil industry.
In his comment, Abdul Aziz Saqr, head of the Gulf Research Center in Riyadh, said: “There are concerns that Biden’s presidency will, at best, reduce the American focus on the Middle East, and at worst, toward a more hardline approach towards Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.”
He added, “There is a desire among the Saudis to clarify what Biden’s actual foreign policy will be towards Saudi Arabia.” Note that the Gulf states are trying to work to conclude arms deals, as the UAE and Qatar have requested to purchase US F-35 fighters.
In this regard, the agency touched on the Emirati and Bahraini normalization with the Israeli occupation, quoting an informed source as saying: “One of the reasons that push the Gulf countries to establish relations is that they realized a few months ago that they might not be able to rely on the United States as was the case in the past. Israel is a natural partner. ”
For his part, the Saudi writer Muhammad Al Sheikh said in the daily Al-Jazeera newspaper, that this created a new reality on the ground that Biden cannot ignore when dealing with Iran.
As for David Randall, who is the former head of the diplomatic mission at the US embassy in Riyadh, he said: “The Saudis will not move to recognize Israel before the elections for reasons the most important of which is that this is a card they can play with the new Biden administration.”
Two Gulf sources said that the Gulf states are awaiting the situation regarding the political dispute between Riyadh and its allies on the one hand, and Qatar on the other side, despite pressure from Trump to put an end to this conflict.
One of the sources said that if Trump wins, Riyadh will seek to settle the dispute and form a united Gulf Arab front against Iran. He added, “Maybe this issue is not a big deal for Biden, but if he presses for it, we will see progress.”