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Tags: jcpoa | neom
OPINION

Saudi's MBS Won't Tolerate Biden's Incompetent Foreign Policy

saudi arabian crown prince mohammed bin salman and us president joe biden

U.S. President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during the Jeddah Security and Development Summit July 16, 2022. (Mandel Ngan/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Fred Fleitz By Tuesday, 13 June 2023 04:27 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

Saudi Arabia, America’s long-time ally and a key anchor for its interests in the Mideast and across the globe, has found itself the victim of President Joe Biden’s extraordinarily incompetent foreign policy.

While there is serious risk of losing this strategic ally, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (often referred to as MBS), seems intent in keeping strong ties with America while steering a new course for the kingdom as a powerful player on the world stage.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 37, is the first son of 87-year-old Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud and heir to the throne.

In a short time he has revitalized Saudi society and its economy, as he remakes the kingdom as a powerful geopolitical player. At home his "Saudi First" policies have led to the investment of hundreds of billions in his Vision 2030 plan, a program that opens the long-isolated nation to international business and tourism.

These reforms include modernizing the oil-dependent Saudi economy, a new work culture targeting younger Saudis, educational reforms, and allowing women to drive.

There has also been massive spending on construction projects, especially MBS’ brainchild "Neom," a $1 trillion mega-city being constructed among ancient ruins in northwest Saudi Arabia. When complete, Neom will be a 106-mile-long linear city and tourist destination run entirely on renewable energy.

Like many in the region, MBS saw the U.S. as a guarantor of security and stability.

The Trump administration recognized Saudi Arabia's preeminence in the Arab world, and President Donald Trump made his first visit abroad to the kingdom in an effort to repair relations from the damage done by President Barack Obama. Trump’s visit bore significant fruit, including a $350 billion arms deal that benefited U.S. defense contractors.

While Obama had aligned closely with Tehran, signing an agreement that allowed Iran to develop its nuclear program sanctions-free, MBS saw in Trump a pragmatist who understood the danger. Trump’s decision to tear up Obama’s July, 2015 nuclear deal with Iran (the JCPOA) drew cheers from Saudi Arabia and regional allies.

In return, MBS supported the Trump administration’s Abraham Accords initiative, which normalized relations between Israel and four Arab states.

Although the Saudis did not sign the Accords, this initiative led to a significant improvement in relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel, including establishing direct flights between the two countries and a secret visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Riyadh in 2019.

From day one of his administration, however, President Biden has seemed bent on undermining the close relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.

Biden snubbed Saudi officials at the start of his presidency, even refused to speak with MBS on the phone, put U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia on hold, and issued travel bans against Saudi citizens in response to the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a matter that the Trump administration had largely resolved.

In March 2022, when Biden called MBS to ask him to increase oil production to help lower U.S. gasoline prices, MBS refused to speak with him.

Since then, Biden appears to have seen the light, and has tried to salvage relations with Saudi Arabia.

In July of 2022, Biden traveled to Riyadh to meet with MBS, greeting him with the famous "fist bump" as he deplaned Air Force One.

Biden’s ninth-inning efforts to repair the relationship have had only limited success. MBS again angered the Biden administration by reducing oil production just ahead of the 2022 U.S. midterm election, a move that was widely seen to hurt Democratic efforts to keep Congress.

Instead of overlooking the slight and recognizing the Saudis’ right to set their national oil production, Biden condemned the Saudis and said he would "reevaluate" U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia, warning there would be "consequences" for the oil production cut.

According to recent reports detailing classified documents illegally disclosed by a Massachusetts Air National Guardsman, MBS reacted angrily to Biden’s threat.

The Saudi leader said he "will not deal with the U.S. administration anymore" and promised "major economic consequences for Washington."

Many experts believe MBS cut oil production before the 2022 U.S. election because of his strong disdain for President Biden.

The Wall Street Journal reported last October that the crown prince had mocked Biden in private, "made fun of his mental acuity," and told advisers he hasn’t been impressed with Biden since his days as vice president and much preferred former President Donald Trump.

Earlier this month, Secretary of State Antony Blinken completed a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia. Once again, the Biden administration is playing catch-up in repairing relations, realizing that Saudi Arabia could play a key role in countering threats from U.S. adversaries like Russia, China, and Iran.

But the Saudis may have little reason to sign on with Blinken’s foreign policy initiatives as they have seen firsthand how Biden’s policies have undermined global stability.

Such policies have included the disastrous U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the surge in threats from China.

Saudi officials have clearly been angered by the Biden administration’s determination to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

As a result of this gross incompetence, MBS smartly began to hedge his bets with the U.S. by building direct relationships with American adversaries like Russia, China, and Iran.

China has been quick to exploit this downturn in U.S.-Saudi relations.

With a slew of trade deals with Saudi Arabia, an agreement to buy some Saudi oil with Chinese currency, and mediating an agreement to normalize Saudi Arabia’s relations with Iran, China has made a strong bid over the last 18 months to become a major player in the Mideast at America’s expense.

And Saudi Arabia attended the recent meeting in South Africa with the BRICS group, comprised of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

BRICS is seeking to establish a new global economic order and displace the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

Iran also attended this meeting. Saudi Arabia is in discussions to join a new BRICS bank which would be an alternative to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

While Saudi Arabia has refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or cooperate with Western efforts to sanction Russia for the attack, MBS has not abandoned Ukraine and provided it with a significant $400 million in aid.

Last year, MBS played a mediation role in convincing Russia to release Ukrainian, British, and American prisoners.

This included the release of U.S. professional basketball player Brittney Griner last December. Last month, MBS renewed his offer to mediate a peace agreement between Russia and Ukraine.

MBS’s rise as a global leader was reinforced when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy left May’s G-7 meeting in Hiroshima, Japan and flew on the Prince’s jet, arriving in Jeddah for an Arab League summit.

There Zelenskyy sat at MBS’ right side as guest of honor, as MBS pledged Saudi support for Zelenskyy and his embattled Ukraine.

Crown Prince Mohammed’s new independent foreign policy, domestic reforms, and closer relationships with U.S. adversaries may not be as concerning for U.S. interests as some experts are claiming, at least for now.

Saudi Arabia still has a critical security relationship with the United States that it is not about to abandon.

Moreover, bolstered by MBS’ leadership and reforms to modernize the country, Saudi Arabia could become a more capable U.S. partner to promote global stability and counter terrorist groups and the threat from Iran.

But make no mistake: Joe Biden is doing real damage to America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia and thereby weakening America’s influence in the Mideast.

Biden’s policies have increased the influence of U.S. adversaries in the region, and fueled nascent efforts led by China to replace the dollarized global financial system.

I believe this damage can be easily reversed and U.S.-Saudi relations repaired if Biden is replaced in January 2025 with a strong and competent America-First president.

However, the U.S.-Saudi relationship and America’s interests in the Mideast could suffer catastrophic and irreversible damage if Joe Biden wins a second term.

Fred Fleitz is a Newsmax TV Contributor. He previously served as National Security Council Chief of staff, CIA analyst, and as a member of the House Intelligence Committee staff. Read more reports from Fred Fleitz — Click Here Now.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


Fred-Fleitz
The crown prince mocked Biden in private, and told advisers he hasn’t been impressed with Biden and much preferred Trump. Many experts believe MBS cut oil production before the 2022 U.S. election because of his strong disdain for President Biden.
jcpoa, neom
1379
2023-27-13
Tuesday, 13 June 2023 04:27 PM
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