Saudi Arabia Between November 2020 and November 2021
Al-Okaz, Saudi Arabia, November 11
It’s hard to imagine, but the US presidential elections took place exactly a year ago. It was a fierce and divisive campaign in which Saudi Arabia found itself in the eye of the storm. After stepping into office, President Joe Biden and his administration sent harsh messages to the world. Instead of dealing with Riyadh with a measure of responsibility and good-faith, as is expected of allies, they preferred to distance themselves from Saudi Arabia. But the Saudi government didn’t flinch. Instead, Saudi Arabia devoted its energy to making the best of the situation. The Al-Ula Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit, which took place in January 2021, was the first sign that Riyadh was determined to change its geopolitical stance for the better. The Al-Ula Declaration – signed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and the rest of the GCC member states, along with Egypt – paved the way for the reestablishment of political and economic ties with Qatar. Subsequently, Riyadh’s coordination with Kuwait grew deeper, its economic partnership with the UAE expanded, and its relations with Oman reached unprecedented heights. The declaration became a bridge for Saudi Arabia into all parts of the Gulf and positioned Riyadh as a regional leader. Meanwhile, falling oil prices began to recover, reaching their pre-pandemic levels. Those leading the oil industry in Saudi Arabia maintained a resolute and effective stance that forced the market to acquiesce to the wills of the kingdom. Britain, one of Saudi Arabia’s oldest partners, has decided to double down on its commitments to the kingdom and step into the void left behind by the United States. Cairo and Islamabad have also grown their alliance with Riyadh, boosting the economies of all three countries. At first glance, the month of November of last year heralded a startling political winter for Saudi Arabia. But quietly and patiently, Riyadh has managed to spread its warmth in the region and turn this year into a year of achievements. And today, Saudi Arabia may be in its best geopolitical position to date. – Mohammed Al-Saed (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)
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