Gulf countries fear a new Obama

Donald Trump and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Ben Salman, in June 2019, in Osaka, Japan.

The Saudi crown was in no rush to applaud Joe Biden. The Riyadh press release fell on the evening of Sunday, November 8, more than twenty-four hours after the AP news agency announced the Democrat’s victory in the US presidential election.

Before saluting the success of Joe Biden, soon at the helm of the world’s leading power, King Salman and his son, the ubiquitous Crown Prince Mohammed Ben Salman, have found time to congratulate John Magufuli, the president of Tanzania, and Norodom Sihamoni, the king of Cambodia. The first for his re-election, and the second, on the occasion of his country’s independence day. Of all of Washington’s allied Arab leaders, the Saudis have been the slowest to acknowledge the defeat of Donald Trump.

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And for good reason: with the tempestuous Republican, who persists in denying his failure, the tandem at the head of the kingdom loses its protector number one. In addition to torpedoing the Iran nuclear deal, a legacy of the Obama administration doomed to moaning by Riyadh and his allies, Mr. Trump offered the Salmans father and son four years of blank checks. The crown prince, nicknamed “MBS”, owes him to have resisted the politico-media hurricane caused by the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi. The President of the United States did not take up the analysis of the CIA, the central intelligence agency, blaming him for the liquidation of this journalist and dissident, in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, in October 2018.

“I saved him”

Another priceless favor: the American head of state vetoed a congressional resolution calling for an end to Washington’s support for the war waged in Yemen by Saudi Arabia and its allies. “I saved him”Mr. Trump said in reference to “MBS” with his customary aplomb. In Riyadh’s eyes, Trump’s passivity after Tehran’s bombardment of Aramco’s oil facilities in the eastern part of the kingdom was offset by the elimination of General Ghassem Soleimani, the mastermind of Iranian expansion in the Middle East. Orient, by an American drone, in January.

The bitterness of the Saudi crown in the face of Donald Trump’s scheduled withdrawal is tinged with a form of concealed distrust of his killer. A month before the ballot, on the second anniversary of Jamal Khashoggi’s assassination, Joe Biden’s campaign team issued an ominous press release for “MBS”. The text promised that in the event of victory, the United States would reassess its relationship with the kingdom, end American support for the war in Yemen and make the defense of democratic values ​​and human rights a priority.

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