Doubts remain about the relationship between the two leaders of the Arab world and the US giant

Saudi Arabia and the Emirates distancing themselves from the United States

AFP/ MANDEL NGAN - Joe Biden, President of the United States

Various voices point to a notable distancing between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates with the United States due to divergences arising from the position of Joe Biden's government in diplomatic matters regarding the Middle East.  

In this regard, The Wall Street Journal reported that President Joe Biden failed to reach Saudi Arabia's Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan by telephone, as reported by Al-Arab.  

According to The Wall Street Journal, as reported by Al-Arab, the purpose of the call was to discuss international support for Ukraine in the wake of Russia's invasion and to address the huge rise in gas prices. This call from the White House reportedly went unanswered by the Saudi and Emirati leaders.   

The US objective with these contacts was to receive support for its position against Russia and the sanctions against the country led by Vladimir Putin, which would mean that the Emirates and Saudi Arabia would not comply with the latest agreements within the framework of the OPEC+ alliance, an organisation that brings together the main oil-exporting countries along with other nations such as Russia. However, according to Al-Arab, Mohammed bin Zayed and Prince Mohammed bin Salman confirmed from the outset that the OPEC+ agreement is not affected despite the pressure.

PHOTO/ Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS - Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Mohammed bin Salman has reportedly been critical of President Joe Biden's administration over alleged US interference in the kingdom's internal affairs, implying that Saudi investment in the US would be reduced as a result. Saudi Arabia does not now admit that the US is trying to set the pace if it does not get involved in certain relevant Middle Eastern affairs. The Crown Prince gave an interview to The Atlantic in which he said that he "does not care" if Joe Biden misinterprets what he has said, leaving a certain feeling of unease, as it seems that the US president has had no contact with him despite the fact that he has been in the White House for more than a year, according to reports in Al Arab, until this latest attempt at a telephone conversation. According to analysts, the lack of US interest in the region does not bind the Saudi kingdom on certain US-related issues.  

The United Arab Emirates also showed signs of deviating somewhat from the US path by abstaining from voting on the US-sponsored bill at the United Nations condemning the Russian attack on Ukraine. In the second instance, however, the Gulf state did vote in favour of the resolution condemning the Russian offensive. The Emirati ambassador to the United States, Yousef al-Otaiba, reportedly pointed out that the UAE has not changed its position as a US ally, but that the US has lost interest in the Middle East region to focus more on Asia, due to the US interest in countering the great strength of China, its great economic and geopolitical rival at present. An example of this political shift is the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, which allowed the Taliban to come to power and increased political instability in the region. 

 PHOTO/BANDAR ALGALOUD - Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan

Yemen and the Islamic Republic of Iran are points of discord in reference to the diplomatic ties between the two Arab countries and the US, as various analysts have pointed out, according to the Al Arab media.  

Joe Biden's government has stopped selling arms to the Arab coalition fighting in Yemen against the Houthi rebels, a Shiite militia supported by Iran, a major regional enemy of the Saudi kingdom, which is the main symbol of the Sunni branch of Islam. A coalition led by Saudi Arabia, of which the Emirate is an important part, is fighting on the ground against the Houthi group, which is fighting to undermine the legally established Yemeni government.  

It is also worth noting how Saudi Arabia and the UAE are badly affected because they have suffered several drone and missile attacks by the Houthis, who are supported by Iran, against airport facilities and oil installations. A difficult situation that requires greater support from the US, which has waned, according to analysts, as noted by Al-Arab.  

PHOTO/HANI MOHAMMED - Houthi rebels raise their weapons during a rally in Sana'a, Yemen.

Iran is also a sticking point because the US could return to the nuclear pact with the Ayatollahs' regime, along with the European countries involved, given the latest negotiations between the different parties. This has not gone down well with Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, which consider the Iranian state to be a major threat, especially if it continues to develop its nuclear programme.  

The aim of the Iran nuclear agreement signed in 2015 was to limit the Persian atomic programme in order to prevent it from leading to weapons development in exchange for certain economic advantages. But Donald Trump's administration pulled out of the agreement on the grounds of Iranian non-compliance and imposed political and economic sanctions. In response, the Iranian government reacted by violating some points of the agreement, especially those related to uranium enrichment. This has been causing international concern.  

Now, under the Biden administration, there are new rapprochements with the Islamic Republic and this is causing concern among regional rivals such as the Saudi kingdom and the United Arab Emirates. Also another US ally, Israel, continues to warn of Iran's danger if it continues its atomic development. 

Americas Coordinator: José Antonio Sierra