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The war in Ukraine confirms the emancipation of the Gulf countries from the US.

The war in Ukraine confirms the emancipation of the Gulf countries from the US.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine illustrates the once unthinkable divisions between the United States and its main Gulf allies, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), oil giants increasingly independent on the international stage.

The two member countries of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)who for decades have been on the side of United Statesrefrained from supporting the administration of the president Joe Biden in their efforts to strangle Russiain the diplomatic and energy fields.

“The Emirates should no longer be seen as a puppet of the United States,” Abdulkhaleq Abdullah, a professor of political science in this country, told CNN on March 3. “We must act according to our priorities”, added.

For analysts, this new position of the Gulf countries, which comes after several disputes in recent years -including the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by a Saudi commando in Istanbul in 2018- marks a milestone in relations with Washington. , for a long time “protective” of these states, especially against Iran.

oil against protection

“Of course it is an important phase in the relations between the Gulf and the United States”declares Anne Gadel, a regular contributor to the Montaigne Institute on the countries of this region.

According to her, the Gulf countries “They are aware that they must prepare for a different Middle East, and that the balance of power is changing” Worldwide.

emirateswhich currently holds the presidency of the Security Council of the UNrefused to vote in February on a US draft resolution and Albanian condemning the invasion of Ukraine.

The conflict sent energy prices skyrocketing, but for now the Gulf countries are resisting Western pressure to increase production and lower prices.

The Saudis, for their part, underlined their commitment to the OPEC+ oil alliance, led by Riyadh and Moscow. The Emirates have done the same.

The US president and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto leader, have not spoken since Biden, who had vowed to treat the kingdom as a state, took office. “pariah” after the murder of Khashoggi, imputed to Mohamed bin Salmán by the CIA.

the alliance of United States with Saudi Arabia and with neighboring monarchies, dating back to 1945, rested on an agreement “oil against protection”.

In the region, the Gulf countries that host US troops and bases have long been regarded as Washington’s puppets.

This situation began to change in 2011, when the Arab Spring marginalized the traditional Arab powers such as Egypt and Syriaallowing the Gulf States, considered more stable and prosperous, to play a greater role in the region.


Saudi Arabia and the UAE are currently fighting Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, and have strengthened ties with Russia and China.. The Emirates has also normalized its relations with Israel.

Several frustrations have strained relations with Washington, especially Biden’s opening towards Iran, or the US refusal to describe the Houthis as “terrorists”.

However, the security issue is at the heart of the problem with the absence of a clear reaction from Washington after the attacks on Saudi installations in 2019, and the willingness of the United States to revise its military commitments in the Middle East downwards.

“The Gulf countries are no longer willing to count on the United States as the ultimate guarantor of regional security”estimates Hussein Ibish, of the Institute of Arab States of the Gulf in Washington.

Even though “The United States continues to be a strategic ally of the first plane”these States “they want to diversify their diplomatic options”.

Source: Gestion