U.S.-Saudi relations have been strained in the recent weeks, one of the main reasons being the decision of the OPEC+ countries, including Saudi Arabia and Russia, to decrease their oil production by two million barrels a day. This decision angered the Biden administration, which has actually asked Saudi Arabia to increase, rather than decrease, oil production in light of the worsening global energy crisis. On October 12, 2022 President Joe Biden stated that the Saudi policy would affect the relations between the two countries. Some American officials called to cut the military aid to Saudi Arabia and to withdraw U.S. forces from it, and accused the kingdom of siding with Russia in the Ukraine war.
Saudi Arabia, for its part, rejected the criticism and stated that the decision had been motivated by purely economic and professional considerations. The Saudi press published dozens of articles that rejected the American accusations and stressed that the kingdom does not use oil in political struggles and that it has the right to take independent decisions based on its own considerations and interests. Many of the articles directed harsh criticism at the Biden administration and accused it of undermining the relations between the two countries.
One of the prominent articles was by Khalid Bin Hamad Al-Malik, editor of the Al-Jazirah daily and chair of the board of directors of the Saudi Journalists Association. He blamed the U.S. for the crisis in the relations, saying that it has adopted positions and policies that disregard the security of Saudi Arabia and the region, such as handing Iraq over to the Iran-backed militias, holding nuclear negotiations with Iran and turning a blind eye to the threat posed by the Houthis and Hizbullah to the Saudi kingdom. If the U.S. accuses Saudi Arabia of siding with Russia, he said, Saudi Arabia is equally justified in saying that the U.S. is siding with the Houthis, Iran and Hizbullah.
Khalid Al-Malik (image: twitter.com/1khalid_almalik)
The following are translated excerpts from his article:
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"The [Saudi] kingdom's relations with the U.S. are based on [mutual] interests and on [each country's right] to adopt independent positions according to its outlook. As far as the kingdom is concerned, they are [also] based on the principle that differences in opinion do not detract from the friendship between the countries. This [is true] even if Washington is offended by certain Saudi positions that do not correspond to [its own positions]. It is natural for international relations to know occasional ups and downs.
"Washington should reassess its positions and policies whenever events, or its relations with other [countries], demand this, for American arrogance and aggressive dictates will not help to overcome the differences. On the contrary, they may lead to coolness in the relations, which, we believe, would not benefit the U.S. or its allies. There is no choice but to reassess Saudi-U.S. relations in order to restrain Washington's repeated violations of its [own] basic principles and its creation of unjustified disagreements… like those that arose [recently], when the U.S. quarreled with the kingdom after the OPEC+ [countries] agreed to reduce oil production by two million barrels a day.
"The kingdom always responds to controversial American positions in a calm, restrained, wise and prudent manner – even though it is repeatedly angered by many American positions that harm it despite the historic friendship and strategic alliance that has existed between the countries for over 80 years… We have many [examples] of this, such as the Biden administration's [decision] to revoke the terrorist designation of the Houthis. Judging by this decision, the U.S. apparently supports the Houthis' aggression towards the kingdom and does not oppose their continued control over parts of Yemen…
"Furthermore, what has the U.S. done about the Houthis' refusal to renew the ceasefire? [Nothing], although the failure to renew it harms the [Saudi] kingdom, Yemen and the [other] countries of the region, and although there is an international agreement that underscores the importance of this ceasefire… The U.S. did not exert any pressure to resolve this crisis, although it is the superpower capable of doing so.
"Do you want further [examples]? Consider the position of Biden's America towards the Iranian nuclear reactor, and the White House's eagerness to reach an agreement with Iran despite the harm this will do to the kingdom and the region. [This would have already happened] had it not been for the position of Israel, which curbed America's eagerness to renew the agreement and stopped the recklessness of the White House…
"Is the [feeble] position adopted by the U.S., the kingdom's historic and strategic ally, towards the missile and drone attack on the Aramco [oil] facilities [in Saudi Arabia] – a crime in which Iran has been implicated – not bewildering? [Especially considering that] aggression which paralyzes these facilities reduces the production of oil, and so do the missiles and drones launched by the Houthis against civilians, airports and markets in some cities of the [Saudi] kingdom.
"And then there is Hizbullah, the strongest terror organization in the region, which is funded by Iran. America is doing nothing to address the threat posed by this organization to the kingdom and the regional countries. This organization and its forces are present in Syria, Yemen and in every country where Iran wants to destabilize the regime and undermine security. And we have not yet mentioned Iraq and America's role in handing it over to the militias loyal to Iran, at the expense of the Iraqis' wellbeing and at the cost of isolating them from their Arab surroundings. This too harms the [Saudi] kingdom, which borders on Iraq, not to mention the other countries of the region, into which Iran seeks to expand. After all, it is [Iran] that is occupying islands that belong to the UAE and which declares it has four capital cities – Baghdad, Beirut, Sanaa and Damascus – in addition to its own [capital], Tehran.
"[So] who created the rift between the two countries and acts to harm the other side – Washington or Riyadh? Who creates disagreements for inconceivable reasons and excuses, Riyadh or Washington? If Washington claims, without justification, that Saudi Arabia is siding with Russia in its war in Ukraine, is not Riyadh justified in saying that Washington is siding with the Houthis, Hizbullah and Iran against its interests and the interests of the region?
"These are [some] examples and proofs, and there are many more. It would benefit both countries to remain friends, maintain their alliance and honor one another's positions, so as to meet their mutual interests."
 See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 10258 - Leading Saudi Journalists Reject Biden Administration's Criticism Of OPEC's Oil Production Cut: This Criticism Is Excessive, Reflects Misguided Policy Towards Saudi Arabia – October 12, 2022.
 Al-Jazirah (Saudi Arabia), October 17, 2022.