Saudi Commerce Minister Majid bin Abdullah al-Qasabi will visit Washington, DC today.
Al-Qasabi’s visit, which will focus on brokering deals in the transportation, logistics, and energy sectors, is a significant step in the ongoing ‘reset’ in US-Saudi relations. Relations have been strained between the two since Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. The incident swung public and congressional opinion in the US against the Kingdom.
However, following the massive increase in oil prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions on Russian oil, securing Saudi cooperation in stabilizing global oil markets has become a strategic imperative for the US. Thus, the Biden administration has sought to normalize relations with the kingdom.
It appears an agreement has been reached between the two countries. Last week, the Saudis spearheaded an OPEC agreement to increase oil production, which will bring down skyrocketing gas prices. While normalizing relations without addressing Saudi human rights violations will harm the Biden administration domestically, gains made by stabilizing gas prices will outweigh these losses. Moreover, the administration can hold out the ceasefire negotiated in April in Yemen as evidence that the US was able to extract some concessions.
Download the Daily Brief app to stay ahead of geopolitics with daily, short, forward-looking analysis of geopolitical events before they hit the headlines.
Connor is a Content Editor and Analyst on the Daily Brief team and a member of the Communications team. His primary research focus is Latin America