MOSCOW, February 27 – RIA Novosti. Relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia against the background of a report by American intelligence on the involvement of the kingdom's leadership in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashukji may experience a chill, but the collapse of allied relations is hardly possible, says Grigory Lukyanov, senior lecturer at the Higher School of Economics, a researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, RIAC expert.
Earlier it was reported that the office of the US director of national intelligence believes that the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, personally approved the assassination of Khashukji. US President Joe Biden said he promised the King of Saudi Arabia “new changes” to US policy on Monday. The Saudi Arabian authorities rejected the findings of the US intelligence report. “The growing rhetoric that we are now witnessing suggests that relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia may experience a period of cooling in the foreseeable future. Arabia, since this alliance took shape not only and not so much under Trump – it took shape over decades, and Saudi Arabia is included in the list of the US's privileged partners in the region not by Trump's will, but it has been so since the 1950s and 60s. ” Lukyanov told RIA Novosti.
The expert explained that the United States and Saudi Arabia have multiple contacts in terms of ensuring security and mutual interests in the Middle East region, as well as economic ties: Saudi Arabia is one of the largest buyers of American military-industrial complex products and an energy partner of the United States. In addition, Saudi Arabia is among the states claiming a leadership role in the Middle East, so Biden cannot fully sever relations, he added.
Lukyanov recalled that throughout the election campaign, and in the previous period, the Democratic Party has repeatedly emphasized that Donald Trump's policy based on cooperation with Saudi Arabia is not only counterproductive in the long-term interests of the United States, but also undermines the key values on which is holding on to American society. “Although the assassination of Iranian General Soleimani also indicates that there are no forbidden lines for the Americans in the Middle East and the elimination of political opponents by physical means for the United States is possible, it was in fact that Khashukji Biden partly built his election campaign, speaking with a desire to revise the foundations of foreign to power, “he said.
At the same time, Biden cannot but appeal to the internal agenda, the expert said. “For the American public and especially for Biden's electorate, US cooperation with Saudi Arabia cannot be active as long as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is actually at the head of the country. The memory of September 11 and the responsibility that Saudi citizens bear for preparing to a terrorist attack, “he said.
Lukyanov recalled that over the past years, there have been repeated attempts in American courts to bring to justice both Saudi Arabia as a state and specific persons, including holding government positions in Saudi Arabia. “Nevertheless, these attempts in the interests of bilateral relations by the executive authorities were somehow leveled. Given Biden's dependence on various groups of the electorate and his election promises, it is quite possible that in the current conditions a number of cases will get under way, and this will be extremely critically perceived in Saudi Arabia, “he said.
“It is quite possible that Saudi Arabia's retaliatory measures will not be so much public statements condemning the US position, but rather a reduction in orders for American firms in a variety of areas related to oil production, the military-industrial complex, and other areas, including such areas as cybersecurity, “the expert noted. In his opinion, in these conditions, Saudi Arabia can start buying weapons and industrial goods in other countries. “We can talk, among other things, about expanding the package of bilateral cooperation with the Russian Federation and China. Of course, this should be perceived by the United States as a warning that, in principle, Saudi Arabia has a rich toolbox for influencing American politics and a large space for independent action, “he added.
In addition, according to the expert, one should not forget that Saudi Arabia has a serious lobby within the United States itself, which is not limited only to the Republican Party establishment in the Senate and Congress, but includes representatives in various sectors of the economy who are interested in Saudi orders and investments. … Biden and his administration are taking these aspects into account, Lukyanov said. “Already on the example of the fact that the United States struck a blow to Syria, it is clear that Biden's policy is not the Obama 2.0 policy, there are certain changes, there is a willingness to adjust the course, so in the case of Saudi Arabia, a sufficiently flexible course can include public criticism, but no real consequences for US-Saudi relations from the United States will follow, “Lukyanov said. In particular, according to him, it is hardly possible to talk about the introduction of sanctions against Saudi Arabia.
Khashukji was killed in October 2018 in Istanbul at the Saudi Arabian consulate. Initially, the Saudi authorities denied his disappearance in the diplomatic mission, but some time after the appearance of video and audio recordings, they were forced to admit that Khashukji was killed “as a result of a quarrel with consular officers.” The Turkish police were never able to find his body.
The Arab media put forward versions that the order to assassinate Khashukji, which criticized the actions of the Saudi authorities, could have been given to the contender for the throne in the kingdom – Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. However, the kingdom's foreign ministry said that the crown prince had nothing to do with this crime.