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Is the US trying to patch things up with Saudi?

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.


US Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled on Tuesday to Saudi Arabia for a three-day trip, marking the second high-level US visit to the kingdom over the past month.

While few have expectations of a large breakthrough in a relationship that's been underpinned by awkward exchanges and tense standoffs for some time, Blinken is likely hoping to bolster waning trust.

Why now? The US’ top diplomat likely hopes that confidence-boosting measures can help give Washington some renewed influence over global oil policy, which the Saudis largely steer. And the timing of this trip couldn’t be more apt, particularly after Riyadh announced Sunday that it will unilaterally slash oil production by 1 million barrels per day starting next month. (You may recall that the kingdom’s decision to cut oil output – in turn raising gas prices – ahead of the 2022 midterm elections deepened the US-Saudi rift.)

Blinken also reportedly aims to push the Saudis to normalize ties with Israel, which has long been on the cards but hasn’t materialized due to a range of sticking points.

To be sure, the US-Saudi relationship is important to both sides. However, deteriorating relations amid a changing geopolitical landscape reinforce that the longstanding model of Saudi oil in exchange for US arms and security guarantees no longer flies.


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