Saudi Arabia is now backpedaling, seeking to mend ties with Biden after Democrats fared better-than-expected in the midterms

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US President Joe Biden (l) and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.Bandar Algaloud/Reuters
Saudi Arabia is attempting to mend ties with the US after a recent diplomatic row.
Democrats accused Saudi Arabia of hurting the party at halftime by cutting oil production.
But Biden's stronger-than-expected performance means Riyadh is likely to try to smooth over ties.
After diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and the US appeared to plummet to another low earlier this year, the Arab nation now appears keen to improve ties with the Biden administration.
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And it's the Democratic Party's better-than-expected showing in the midterm elections that has strengthened President Joe Biden's hand, analysts say.
Many had forecast sweeping gains for the Republican Party in the last midterm election, helped by economic challenges related to high inflation and soaring fuel prices.
Ahead of the election, members of the Democratic Party accused Saudi Arabia of backing away from an oil production boost deal and instead cutting it, as part of a ploy to boost inflation and hurt the Democrats' chances at the midterm.
But instead, Biden's party emerged with control of the Senate intact and a smaller-than-expected loss of House seats.
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As a result, the Saudis have taken a series of diplomatic moves in recent weeks, apparently aimed at improving ailing relations with the White House.
In October, the country voted in favor of a UN resolution not to recognize Russia's annexation of several provinces in eastern Ukraine, while increasing its aid to Ukraine by $400 million.
The US is Ukraine's main international backer in its fight against Russian invasion, and the moves appeared designed to show that Saudi Arabia is not on Russia's side in the conflict.
The Wall Street Journal also reported last week that Saudi Arabia could partially reverse the decision to increase oil production that so angered Biden and instead increase it — although the report was denied by Saudi Arabia's energy minister.
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"Saudi Arabia is unlikely to want to improve relations with the [Biden] government as both parties are still at odds, but we can expect tensions to ease over the next two years," said Neil Quilliam, a researcher of the Chatham House think tank in London, told Insider.
The Biden administration has also signaled its desire to restart relations.
In court documents earlier this month, the US Justice Department said Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman should be protected from prosecution in connection with the 2018 murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
It's a move interpreted by some legal analysts as a concession to the Saudis and in stark contrast to Biden's earlier promise to make him an "outcast" for the murder.
The CIA believes Crown Prince Mohammed was behind the murder, which he denies.
Regarding the oil cut, Brian Katulis, a policy analyst at the Middle East Institute in Washington DC, told Insider that the backlash surprised the Saudis and that they underestimated how the decision would be perceived in the US. hyperpolarized domestic political environment, especially in the run-up to the midterms.
He said the Saudis had committed "many missteps" and were "perceived as trying to engage in America's own partisan infighting."
Saudi Arabia is walking a tightrope, Chatham House's Quilliam said.
On the one hand, they see the United States as the best guarantor of their security, given massive arms sales to the kingdom and military support. However, they also view the US as a waning power and are keen to forge closer ties with Russia and China, the US's main geopolitical rivals.
Even so, important shared strategic interests, including containing Iran, mean both nations have more to gain by keeping the alliance alive.
At the same time, Quilliam said Saudi Arabia is also very aware that the Middle East is no longer a key strategic priority for Washington.
"Neither a Republican nor a Democratic party president is going to reverse US policy towards the Gulf, and the Saudis are aware of the fact that their region is no longer a White House priority, no matter who occupies it," he said.
Meanwhile, the Saudi regime's brutality against dissidents is the wild card that could blow up attempts to restore relations to normal at any time, Katulis said.
"It's a siege mentality and it leads to things like the horrific hyperbole in the form of imprisoning dissidents or trying to kidnap or assassinate someone," he said.
Read the original article on Business Insider

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