US-Saudi relations strengthen amid push for Israel normalization


Recent US official visits to Saudi Arabia underscore a deepening bond between the two countries as discussions continue regarding a potential agreement that could lead to Saudi recognition of Israel, according to analysts.

Within a year of US President Joe Biden’s warning of “consequences” for Riyadh during an oil supply dispute, high-ranking officials are now frequenting Saudi Arabia to engage with its leadership.

Over the weekend, Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, arrived in Jeddah for a Ukraine summit, marking his third visit to Saudi Arabia in a few months.

While bilateral discussions, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s June tour, have covered topics ranging from terrorism to Yemen, the prospect of Saudi-Israeli normalization remains a central issue, fostering more positive exchanges even though it’s still seen as a challenging goal.

“Ali Shihabi, a Saudi analyst close to the government, stated, “US-Saudi ties have unquestionably warmed in recent months.” He emphasized the extensive and friendly nature of the ongoing dialogue, with normalization being a driving force”.

Despite hurdles, such as Riyadh’s negotiations for security guarantees and assistance with a civilian nuclear program, the cooperation between the US and Saudi Arabia is reportedly at its best moment since President Biden took office.

The long-standing challenges in the relationship, including human rights concerns and Saudi doubts about the US as a reliable security partner, gained prominence after the 2019 attacks on Saudi oil facilities, partly attributed to Iran. Saudi officials were disappointed by the perceived lackluster response from the Trump administration.

However, growing collaboration with Moscow and Beijing indicates Saudi Arabia’s diversification of its international partnerships.

Even as the Saudis turned to China for help with a breakthrough in relations with Iran, the US military presence in the region remains crucial.

While tensions over oil production emerged last October, both sides continued to pursue cooperation and discussions about normalization terms to solidify their relationship.

“The recent series of visits and “serious discussions aimed at taking security ties to new levels” indicate “a much improved atmosphere between top decision makers,” according to analysts”.

“This strengthening of US-Saudi ties has garnered attention from other players, including Palestinian officials who hope for Saudi support in advocating for an independent Palestinian state”.

“Riyadh now places the responsibility on Israel to demonstrate its readiness for peace, shifting the focus away from Saudi Arabia in the pursuit of resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict”.

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