Riyadh–Washington … and the future of the relationship

January 19, 2021
Riyadh–Washington … and the future of the relationship

Jameel Altheyabi

On Wednesday, the world will watch from behind the screens the inauguration of Democrat Joe Biden becoming the 46th president of the United States of America. In front of him, there are many merits both internally and externally.

At the outset, it must be noted that the Saudi–American relations that have grown strong over more than 80 years, are not associated with only the persons who occupies the White House chair, but rather with relations that have been established and continues to remain, based on the common strategic benefits and interests of both the countries. This is in the framework of the foreign policy of the two countries and their vision of what is required to achieve the security of the region and the world.

The outgoing US President Donald Trump was no exception to the aforementioned position. Ever since his election in 2016, Trump has worked to further cement Saudi–American cooperation and he had chosen Saudi Arabia as the first stop in his maiden foreign tour after assuming the presidency. Several commercial, technical and military deals and partnerships between the two countries were announced during that visit and they were not a personal matter limited only to Trump.

This is because Saudi Arabia has never stopped, ever since its foundation by the late King Abdul Aziz, from modernizing its plans for development, defense, industrialization and commerce.

What happened and is happening in the United States pertaining to the dispute over the results of the 2020 Presidential elections is a matter concerning the United States alone, and Saudi Arabia will not interfere in it, regardless of the size and magnitude of the happenings.

As for President-elect Joe Biden, he is one among the American politicians who are most familiar with the Kingdom, as well as with the reality of its economic role and its geostrategic importance.

Biden knows well that Saudi Arabia is the gateway to the Islamic world, and it is the Qibla (direction of the Kaaba in prayer) of more than 1.5 billion Muslims from all parts of the world.

He also realizes that Saudi Arabia is an influential Arab and Islamic country and it hosts several regional and international organizations concerned with coexistence and peace, and working to foster culture of tolerance among Muslims and followers of other religions and cultures, foremost among them are the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Muslim World League (MWL), and the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC).

The Saudi–American relationship is balanced and based on common interests and mutual benefits.

Regardless of any policies vis-à-vis the security of the region, the position of both the countries rejects Iran’s behaviors, the threats of its Lebanese tail Hezbollah, the conspiracies of the Brotherhood outfit and the groups of violence and extremism.

This is a position that unites not only Saudi Arabia and others but also the allies of Riyadh and Washington from the developed and developing world. The United States knows — regardless of who heads it — that its duty while safeguarding its interests as well as that of their allies is to have its strong and effective presence in a hot spot.

There is no doubt that the period of Trump is far better than that of the phases of the Obama period, which was described as a failed one for the region, and hence Biden should avoid that policy. Of course, there had been some twists and turns in the relations between Washington and Riyadh, and the bilateral ties were not free from tensions during some periods.

But the solidity of the relationship always overcomes any divergence of views because the common interests are not temporary, but rather monumental and vital to serve the interests of both the countries.

There is no doubt that opponents, even before the allies, know the willpower of the Saudi decision and the independence of Saudi policy, which is becoming more important and powerful as Riyadh shoulders its vital roles in leading the Arab and Islamic worlds, apart from its presence in the G20, which is the bloc of the world’s largest economies.

The Kingdom is also paying attention to addressing the problems of global economy, especially the stability of the international oil markets that represent the lifeline and backbone of all countries of the world. So the history and strategy of the Saudi–American relationship will preserve common interests and crystalize new visions to solve the region’s problems.

January 19, 2021
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