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Thursday, 29 July 2021

Honeymoon over? Biden win would reset Saudi ties

Duration: 01:44s 0 shares 2 views
Honeymoon over? Biden win would reset Saudi ties
Honeymoon over? Biden win would reset Saudi ties

Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, has enjoyed close ties, some would say a free pass, with Donald Trump in the White House.

Joe Biden has promised that if he becomes U.S. president, that will change.

Lucy Fielder reports.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince, and de facto ruler, pretty much enjoyed a free pass under Donald Trump, with whom he has a strong personal relationship.

But if Joe Biden becomes U.S. president, Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, may have to tread more carefully.

The murder of Saudi Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which MBS has denied ordering, will be a prime point of friction.

Saudi Arabia's detention of women activists will be another, as will the war in Yemen.

MBS has taken a tight grip on the reins, crushing dissent and detaining rivals to the throne -- tainting the reformist image he initially cultivated.

In his campaign, Biden has pledged to reassess ties with Saudi, an oil giant and major buyer of American arms. He promised to demand more accountability over Khashoggi's killing and end U.S. support for the Yemen war.

However, while Riyadh and its Gulf allies prefer a Trump administration that prioritizes lucrative deals over human rights concerns, a Biden win would not upend those decades-long alliances.

As one Gulf source told Reuters, these are long-term strategic relationships and, quote, "no one wants to break the camel's back".

Biden would be likely, though, to place stronger conditions on U.S. support -- and to look for some high-profile compromises.

Saudi has also been happy with the hard line Trump has taken with Tehran, pulling out of an international nuclear pact with Iran.

For Riyadh, U.S. ties with its arch foe will be the big issue to watch if Biden wins.