(ConservativeHub.com) – The US and Saudi Arabia have a complicated relationship. Recently, the Biden administration has sent an increasing number of Patriot antimissile interceptors to the region. An anonymous senior administration official said this decision is not official but aligns with President Biden’s promise to support friendly nations. But are we really friends with the Saudis?
A Complex Relationship
The US goes back and forth on offering support and leaving the Saudis to fend for themselves. This arrangement has been especially true during the Biden administration when tensions have grown significantly.
On March 20, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan condemned attacks by Houthi forces in Yemen. Still, this came after a move last September when the US removed the Patriot defense system from the Prince Sultan Air Base. At that time, the threat from the Houthi rebels was still intense. Saudi officials said the defense was necessary because of the ongoing attacks.
Since taking office, Biden has presided over a strained relationship with Saudi leaders. Refusing to deal with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, he took the Houthi rebel group off the designated terrorist list. His administration released a report saying King Salman authorized the killing of Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in 2018. Yet, the crown prince insists he was not part of the plot.
In February, the administration seemed interested in Saudi relations again, sending the National Security Council’s Middle East coordinator, Brett McGurk. He met with officials to discuss various topics, including the Yemen situation and energy issues.
The move to provide Saudi Arabia with the Patriot antimissile interceptors is a complete turnaround from the administration’s actions in September. It indicates Biden may be leaning towards fostering a more amicable relationship with Saudi Arabia.
Of course, the decision comes after urgent requests from the Saudis for assistance. Providing the supplies helps ensure the country can protect itself from missile attacks and other aggressions by the Houthi rebels.
Officials have been asking the US for help since last year, specifically requesting the interceptors. They said the supply on hand was low and extra provisions were necessary. However, this isn’t a new situation. There has been a longstanding request for help, and the lack of a response from the US always led Saudi officials to say the US wasn’t providing proper support.
There is no apparent trigger for the change within the Biden administration. The White House seemed to want to walk away last fall but holds a different attitude this year. Could the administration be looking at trading weapons for oil in the context of the current crisis in Ukraine?
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