Sajjad Mohseni, in an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, referred to the repercussions of the US election results in Saudi Arabia and noted: Like many Arab states in the region, Saudi politicians were closely following the results of the US presidential elections. Concerns about Trump ousting power as the most important supporter of Saudi domestic and foreign policy and the return of Democrats to power and the bitter memory of Riyadh-Washington relations under Obama have put a lot of pressure on Bin Salman.
He referred to Saudi Arabia’s efforts to improve its relations with Qatar and added: The Saudi government, understanding the atmosphere in the midst of the elections, organized its relations with Qatar; but for Bin Salman, what seemed more important than foreign policy was Biden administration’s approach to Saudi domestic policy.
Saying that the outcome of the US elections will naturally affect Saudi Arabia, the expert on Saudi affairs described the scope of this impact as limited and continued: The history of relations between the two countries has witnessed such changes and disagreements before, but it has not led to changes in the manner of the two countries towards each other.
Possibility of moderation of Biden’s approach to Saudi Arabia
Mohseni added: Although Biden has shown that Saudi Arabia, like in the Trump presidency, will not be the first priority of foreign visits and Biden has repeatedly expressed his concern over the Yemen war and the Saudi interior atmosphere, especially the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, it should be said that part of the Biden’s idealistic approach towards Saudi Arabia will be moderated in the realistic approach to regional atmosphere.
He explained: Perhaps changes will occur in the tactics of dealing with Saudi Arabia; but it is unlikely that Biden will completely ignore Trump’s achievements, especially the 110 billion dollar deal. Biden is interested in leaving a great symbol of himself, like Trump, who started the domino of accepting the Abraham Accords Peace Agreement, which is to end the war in Yemen. Biden is now open to impose pressure on Bin Salman, both in foreign and domestic policy, and somehow the initiative will be in the hands of the Biden administration, although Saudi Arabia is not comparable to Saudi Arabia at the time of Obama in terms of pressure leverage.
Weakening Bin Salman with Biden’s approach
Referring to the remarks of the White House spokesman that Biden will pursue relations with Saudi Arabia only through the channel of communication with the King of that country and will not have any connection with the Crown Prince, the analyst of Saudi affairs regarding Bin Salman’s position said: Bin Salman will be weakened with such an approach. Biden has sought to put pressure on Bin Salman to propose and activate internal alternatives to power, led by Muhammad bin Nayef.
Mohseni continued: The maneuver over the assassination of Khashoggi and the re-creation of this threat, after a short period of fading of this news, sends a signal to Mohammad Bin Salman that the internal atmosphere of that country will be monitored more than before. However, it should be borne in mind that before such pressures are considered as Biden’s humanitarian tendencies are, are the most important tools of the United States for putting pressure on Bin Salman’s government. On the other hand, the Saudi government by releasing some political prisoners, including Loujain al-Hathloul, has sent a message to Washington that it has the ability to adapt to the new conditions.
Saudi Arabia, the US evaluating each other
Regarding the short-term future of US-Saudi relations in the Biden administration, he said: It seems that the two governments are now in the ‘evaluation phase’ of each other until they reach the ‘equilibrium point’, and such tensions cannot be considered as the beginning of a big confrontation, as such that tensions would be reduced as soon as “relative mutual benefits” are achieved.
Bin Salman, the guarantor of Saudi-American strategic pact
Mohseni stressed: Biden also understands very well that if he can restrain Bin Salman and get him back on the track of the traditional Saudi politics, he can turn a threat into a suitable opportunity. The young prince can guarantee, at least for a long time, the Saudi-American strategic pact, in which he is relatively superior to his rival in succession.
Biden’s efforts to resolve Yemen crisis
He added: If Salman cooperates in resolving the Yemen crisis, in such a way that Biden portrays himself as the “savior of several nations”, Biden will also reduce his pressure in domestic field. All such equations are in case that the probable death of King Salman would not coincide with the evaluation period of the two countries of each other; because if such a situation arises, the result will largely be to the benefit of Biden, because Bin Salman will desperately need a strong foreign supporter to gain power.