In a U-turn, KSA seeks to mend ties with Biden after election results
Saudi Arabia is seeking to repair relations with the US after a recent diplomatic spat.
A report by the Insider states that after diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and the US were sinking earlier this year, the Kingdom now appears eager to mend ties with the Biden administration.
Analysts say President Joe Biden's hand has been strengthened by the Democratic Party's performance in the midterm elections, according to the report, at a time when many had projected sweeping gains for the Republican Party in the recent midterms, aided by economic challenges tied to high inflation and rising fuel prices.
Before the elections, members of the Democratic Party accused Saudi Arabia of backing away from an agreement to boost oil production, and instead cut it, as part of a "scheme" to spike inflation and damage the Democrats' chances in the midterms.
Instead, Biden's party emerged with Senate control intact and a smaller-than-expected loss of seats in the House.
As a result, the Saudis have made a series of diplomatic moves in recent weeks that appear to be aimed at improving strained relations with the White House.
Could Saudi Arabia reverse the oil production cut?
The Wall Street Journal also reported last week that Saudi Arabia may be planning to reverse its decision to reduce oil production, which irritated Biden, and instead increase it — though the report was denied by Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister.
"It is unlikely that Saudi Arabia will want to mend ties with the [Biden] administration, as both parties are still at odds with one another, but we can expect to see a dialling down of tensions over the next two years," Neil Quilliam, a researcher with the Chatham House think tank in London, told Insider.
The Biden administration has also signaled its desire for a reset in relations.
The US Justice Department stated in court documents earlier this month that Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, should be immune from prosecution in connection with the 2018 murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The CIA has long believed Crown Prince Mohammed to be behind the murder, something he has denied.
When it comes down to the oil cut, Brian Katulis, a policy expert at the Middle East Institute in Washington DC, told Insider that the Saudis were caught off guard by the backlash and underestimated how the decision would be perceived in the US hyper-polarized domestic political environment, particularly in the run-up to the midterm elections.
He said the Saudis had made "many missteps" and had been "perceived as trying to engage in America's own partisan squabbles."
Saudi Arabia is now walking a tightrope, said Chatham House's Quilliam.
On the one hand, they regard the United States as the best security guarantee, owing to extensive arms sales and military support to the Kingdom. They also see the US as a declining power and want to strengthen ties with Russia and China, the US' main geopolitical rivals.
According to Insider, key common strategic interests, such as "containing" Iran, mean that both countries have more to gain by keeping the alliance alive.
At the same time, Saudi Arabia is also keenly aware, said Quilliam, that the Middle East is no longer a key strategic priority for Washington.
"Neither a Republican nor a Democratic party president will reverse US policy towards the Gulf, and Saudis are cognisant of the fact that their region is no longer a first order priority for the White House – no matter who occupies it," he said.
Meanwhile, the Saudi regime's brutality against dissidents is a wildcard that could derail efforts to normalize relations, according to Katulis. "It's a siege mentality and it does lead to things like the awful overreach in the shape of jailing dissident voices or going out and trying to kidnap or murder someone," he said.