Saudi Arabia seeking to join BRICS threatens US' "Oil for Security"
Saudi Arabia reaffirms its interest to join the BRICS, which may further inflame its diplomatic spat with the US.
Saudi Arabia has voiced its aspiration to join BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), a move Chinese experts regard as a blow to Washington's "oil for security" approach to the Gulf.
South Africa's local radio station ABC reported on Tuesday, citing South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also Saudi Arabia's Prime Minister, "did express Saudi Arabia's desire to be part of BRICS," and that Saudi Arabia is "not the only country" interested in joining BRICS.
According to Reuters, Ramaphosa visited Saudi Arabia last week and inked agreements and memorandums of understanding worth around $15 billion. In 2023, South Africa will hold the rotating BRICS presidency.
Saudi Arabia's reaffirmed interest in joining BRICS came at a time when the kingdom is embroiled in a diplomatic spat with the US over oil output.
The US, Saudi Arabia, and OPEC+
Earlier in October, the 13-nation OPEC+ and its 10 allies infuriated the White House by resolving to cut output by two million barrels per day beginning in November, fueling fears that oil prices may spike.
"I'm not going to get into what I'd consider and what I have in mind. But there will be -- there will be consequences," US President Joe Biden told CNN.
Biden would not specify which choices were being evaluated, although the White House had previously stated that Biden was reassessing connections between allies.
"I think the president's been very clear that this is a relationship that we need to continue to re-evaluate, that we need to be willing to revisit," US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told CNN, adding that "Certainly in light of the OPEC decision, I think that's where he is."
Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir denied all allegations that OPEC+'s decision was directed at the US and stated that its aim was to stabilize the global market amid a slowing economy.
Additionally, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on October 16 that US President Joe Biden had "no plans" to meet with MBS on the sidelines of the G20 summit coming up next month in Indonesia.
It is also worth noting that consequently to the abovementioned disagreements, the head organizer of the Saudi investment conference, Davos in the Desert, said on October 17, that "no invitations will be sent to US government officials to attend the conference, which will be held at the end of October," adding that it is to prevent the gathering from becoming a "political platform."
The decision not to invite US officials, contrary to previous years, comes as tensions escalated between Washington and Riyadh over the recent decision of the OPEC+ organization to reduce oil production by up to two million barrels per day, starting next November.
Richard Attias, CEO of the non-profit organization in charge of the event, the Future Investment Initiative FII, said that up to 400 CEOs of US companies are expected to participate in this year's edition.
Chinese experts comment on Saudi Arabia's interest in BRICS
According to a Beijing-based international relations expert who requested anonymity, the US intended Saudi Arabia to listen to its directives and satisfy its demands, but the unfolding of events clearly indicated that Washington had overplayed its hand.
According to the analyst, the US is selfish in its dealings with Saudi Arabia, and "the idea of joining BRICS shows Saudi Arabia's growing autonomy in its diplomacy with Washington."
The expert further noted that "joining BRICS will also protect Saudi Arabia's own energy interests in a substantive way, rather than being a card to be used by others."
As stated by the Beijing-based expert "If Saudi Arabia joins BRICS, it would be a promotion to the Middle East countries to strengthen their ties with BRICS countries and weaken the intervention and influence of the US in the area."
The "oil for security" framework between Saudi Arabia and the US needs to be adjusted in light of the evolving international situation, according to Li Shaoxian, director of the China Institute for Arab Studies at Ningxia University, who spoke to the Global Times on Wednesday.
The Middle East has a clearly elevated position in the world: Europe depends on it for energy, Russia takes notice to it, and China has strong links with it with the Belt and Road Initiative, but "the Saudis do not feel equality and mutual respect in a US-led framework," Li claimed.
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