Middle East Meltdown

The one constant that unites the U.S. and its allies is war, thus the improved relationship as of late between Washington and Riyadh. 

The Saudis dismissed Washington last year by disregarding President Biden’s appeal not to cut oil production due to Russian sanctions and reportedly pushed OPEC+ to cut even more of its output than anticipated, surprising even Russia. 

In December, the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the U.S. soured even more when Biden announced that Saudi Arabia will face “consequences” over its decision. 

But with a warm start to winter and economies slowing down, oil prices did not pop as anticipated, and the tension eased.

Biden administration officials told The Wall Street Journal last week that the White House has no intention of following up on the threat and looks forward to moving ahead with its military relationship amid the growing threat of a conflict with Iran. 

The paper noted that relationships between the two countries improved in November when the U.S. and Saudi Arabia shared intelligence that Iran was planning an attack on the Kingdom. Washington sent warplanes and bombers in the direction of Iran to intimidate the country, which turned out to be a watershed in Washington’s relationship with Riyadh.

Colin Kahl, the Pentagon’s undersecretary of defense for policy, told the paper that the U.S. believes the “combination of that rapid intelligence sharing and repositioning [of military assets] is what backed the Iranians off.”

Officials told the paper that both Saudi Arabia and the U.S. are pressing ahead with “new military and intelligence projects and sensitive efforts to contain Iran amid stalled efforts to revive the international nuclear deal with Tehran.”

They said the thaw in the relationship comes as the U.S. looks to “reshape” its military presence in the Middle East “by stitching together a security umbrella stretching from Israel through the Persian Gulf.”

TRENDPOST: The Trends Journal has reported extensively on how the U.S. identifies Iran as one of the greatest threats to regional security and has been preparing accordingly. (See “IRAN, RUSSIA MOVE CLOSER AND COULD BECOME ‘FULL-FLEDGED DEFENSE PARTNER’,” 13 Dec 2022, “ISRAEL AND U.S. RAMP UP MILITARY DRILLS WITH EYES ON IRAN,” 6 Dec 2022, and “GANTZ: ISRAEL CAN STRIKE IRAN’S NUCLEAR FACILITIES, BUT WARNS OF FALLOUT,” 15 Nov 2022.)

Just last month, the U.S. joined Israel in aerial military drills to simulate an “operational scenario and long-distance flight,” which could easily be translated into an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The U.S. and Iran’s relationship is near its nadir and Tehran has just issued a new threat to seek revenge for the U.S. assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani three years ago in Iraq. An Iranian official threatened former president Donald Trump and his former secretary of state Mike Pompeo.

A State Department spokesperson told Newsweek that Iran continues its plan to seek revenge for Soleimani’s death, but the U.S. will continue to “protect and defend its citizens.”

The Biden administration has flooded Ukraine with well over $100 billion in support since the 24 February invasion and knows that Americans are not interested in paying more at the pump to keep the war going. So the White House knew that it had to get Saudi Arabia on board to reject the idea of an oil output cut. 

Slowing global demand has helped Biden save face and most Americans are now paying less at the pump than months ago. Oil prices were up on Monday as China announced reopenings amid its COVID-19 outbreak. 

NOTICE TO READER: The Trends Journal’s TOP TRENDS OF 2023 issue identified the Middle East Meltdown as a key factor to watch in the new year.

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