Biden to 'reassess' close US-Saudi ties under Trump: NBC News
Projected US President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to “reassess” Washington’s ties with the despotic kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a major US news network reported, predicting a “change” in close US-Saudi ties under President Donald Trump.
Biden has pledged to "reassess" the US relationship with the oil-rich kingdom, and Saudi Arabia is likely to have a less privileged and personal relationship with the Biden administration than it has had with the Trump team, NBC News reported, citing analysts.
Biden has described the oil-rich Persian Gulf state as a “pariah” and has confirmed that he believes dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered on direct orders of the regime’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Biden also vowed during his presidential campaign to end Washington’s support for the Saudi’s war of aggression on neighboring Yemen, which has so far killed more than 112,000 people and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis that has left millions of civilians suffering from food and medical shortages.
Biden also claimed he may halt the sale of American weapons to Riyadh.
However, experts interviewed by NBC News emphasized that the strategic significance of the US-Saudi ties would endure and that Biden's presidency would by no means mark the end of those ties.
"There will be a clear-eyed recognition of the importance of the relationship from a security standpoint, from an economic standpoint and from relationships with the Muslim world," said former US ambassador to Riyadh Robert Jordan as quoted in the report.
Michael Stephens, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London, was also cited in the report as cautioning against taking Biden's campaign pledges at face value, pointing out that Trump was himself critical of Saudi Arabia ahead of his 2016 election.
During that race, Trump slammed his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for taking money from the Saudi regime and other countries that "want women as slaves."
With the steady rise in US oil production, the value of the Saudi alliance has come under increasing scrutiny, and members of Congress from both parties have called for an end to special treatment for the kingdom.
Last year, Trump vetoed a congressional resolution to end U.S. military assistance in the Saudi war in Yemen, as well as three other measures aimed at blocking more than $8 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Critics say Trump has failed to speak out against Saudi Arabia's human rights record. Previous administrations occasionally pressed for universal values of human rights and freedom in the kingdom when doing so did not run up against other strategic interests in the region.