The World Today for November 07, 2022


A Difficult Friendship


Saudi Arabia recently told American officials that Iran was planning an attack on the desert kingdom.

The intelligence came at a peculiar time, as the Associated Press explained. American officials are peeved at Saudi Arabia for reneging on an alleged deal to increase oil production as energy prices have skyrocketed due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Those prices are threatening to leave Europeans in the cold this winter and ruin Democrats’ chances in the upcoming midterm elections in the US. They also help Russia earn money for its fight in Ukraine.

But the potential attack also comes as American President Joe Biden has been critical of Iran for helping Russia’s military in Ukraine while also voicing support for Iranian protesters who have been demonstrating against the Islamic Republic’s harsh policies, especially against women, Politico reported.

Biden was already reviewing policies toward Saudi Arabia. That move followed Saudi Arabia and other oil-producing countries cutting production after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had supposedly promised Biden that the kingdom would pump more, according to the New York Times.

Biden reportedly asked bin Salman to delay the production cuts until after the midterm elections, CNBC added. The president’s ask came after he reversed his campaign pledge to “marginalize” the prince over the death of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and activist who disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials determined that he had been murdered on the orders of the Saudi government, the BBC noted.

The American president has vowed that Saudi Arabia will suffer consequences for its actions, but it’s not clear what he can do, a Reuters analysis concluded. Some analysts believe the administration is quietly trying to repair the relationship, the Washington Post reported.

That said, the US isn’t dependent on Saudi oil, which makes up only about six percent of its imports. However, the relationship between the two allies is an integral part of US defenses in the region, with strong security, defense and intelligence ties. Saudi Arabia also buys US weapons, something lawmakers often call into question.

Democrats in Congress, meanwhile, are calling for an investigation into Saudi investors’ role in Elon Musk’s recent purchase of Twitter. They also launched a probe into deals that former Trump aide and son-in-law Jared Kushner and ex-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have made with Saudis.

Now, as Iran appears to be threatening the kingdom, American officials were quick to say they would respond if Iran attacked, Al Jazeera reported. The US already scrambled jets as a show of force. Iran is also planning on sending more than 1,000 additional weapons, including drones and ballistic missiles, to help Russia’s war in Ukraine, CNN wrote. That move alone was enough for US officials to warn that they wouldn’t revive the nuclear deal that President Barack Obama had struck with Iran and that President Donald Trump had rescinded.

Meanwhile, Iranian security forces have killed at least 300 protesters and arrested more than 14,000 people in connection with the recent unrest in the country. Mass public trials and death sentences haven’t dissuaded the protesters, the UK’s Channel 4 reported.

So many motivations. So much intrigue. So much danger.

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