RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia finally congratulated Joe Biden on Sunday on his election victory, more than 24 hours after he defeated Donald Trump, who had close personal ties to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The former US vice president pledged during his campaign to reassess relations with the kingdom, demanding more accountability for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Istanbul consulate. of Riyadh and call for an end to US support for the Yemen war.
As various Arab states raced to applaud the Democrat challenger, the kingdom̵7;s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, remained silent on the US vote even as he sent warm words. heat to the President of Tanzania about his re-election.
The state news agency SPA reported that, at 1932 GMT on Sunday, Saudi king Salman and his son, the crown prince, congratulated Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on the victory. in the presidential election.
“King Salman commended the special, historic and close relationship between the two friendly nations and their people that everyone desires to strengthen and develop at all levels,” added SPA.
Crown Prince Mohammed’s relationship with Trump has created a stepping stone against international criticism of Riyadh’s rights record caused by the Khashoggi murder, Riyadh’s role in the war in Yemen and the detention of female activist.
These areas could now become the point of friction between Biden and Saudi Arabia, major oil exporters and arms buyers of the United States.
“The only thing worse than COVID-19 would be BIDEN-20,” wrote Saudi Arabia’s Twitter user, Dr Muna, while many use other Saudi social media platforms of the social media platform. The association simply ignored the results for the first few hours after US networks called for Biden elections.
A Saudi political source has minimized the risk of disintegration between the kingdom and the United States, pointing to Riyadh’s historic relationship with Washington.
But the Saudi Arabian newspaper Okaz offers a sense of uncertainty about how the future will play out for the kingdom. “The area awaits … and prepare … for what happened after Biden’s victory,” it wrote in an article on the front page.
The kingdom may not have to wait long. Neil Quilliam, a partner at the British consulting organization Chatham House, said the Biden administration will likely seek to signal their dissatisfaction with Saudi Arabia’s foreign and domestic policies early on.
“The Saudi leadership is concerned that the Biden administration and hostile Congress will conduct a comprehensive review of relations, including a reassessment of defense relations,” he said. There will be positive moves towards ending the conflict in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia is an ardent supporter of Trump’s “maximum pressure” over tough sanctions on opponents in the Iran region. But Biden has said that he will return to the 2015 nuclear treaty between world powers and Tehran, an agreement negotiated when Biden was vice president in the Barack Obama administration.
Abu Zaid, a cashier at a supermarket in Riyadh, said he hopes Biden will take a different approach. “I’m not satisfied with Biden’s victory, but I hope he learns from Obama’s mistakes and realizes that Iran is a common enemy,” he said.
A Saudi political source said the kingdom was “capable of dealing with any president because the US is a nation of institutions and has a lot of institutional work between Saudi Arabia. Ut and the United States. “
“The relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States is deep, strong and strategic, and not prone to change because of a changing president,” he said.
Crown Prince Mohammed has denied ordering the murder of Khashoggi but in 2019 he admitted some personal responsibility by saying that it happened on his track. Riyadh jailed eight people between seven and 20 years in the case.
Additional reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi in Dubai; Written by Michael Georgy; Edited by Edmund Blair and Philippa Fletcher