The de facto leaders of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have reportedly been avoiding the calls of US President Joe Biden.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the White House was unsuccessful in attempts to arrange calls between Biden and the leaders while the US was attempting to build international support for Ukraine and stop the massive surge in oil prices.
Officials from the US and the Middle East told the outlet that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan both declined White House attempts to arrange the calls for Biden, due to Saudi and Emirati criticism of American policy in the Gulf region.
US and Saudi officials told the outlet that their relationship with Washington has deteriorated during the Biden administration. Saudi’s are requesting support for their intervention in Yemen’s civil war, help with their civilian nuclear program in response to moves by Iran and immunity for Prince Mohammed from the US legal system, who faces multiple lawsuits, including over the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The Emiratis expressed similar concerns following a restrained US response to missile strikes from Iran-backed Houthi militants in Yemen against the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
According to officials, both the Saudi and the Emirati governments are also concerned about the attempt to revive the Iran nuclear deal, because it fails to address their security concerns.
The White House has been attempting to mend fences with the two countries in order to address the spiking oil prices which have now risen over $130 a barrel for the first time in 14 years. The two Middle Eastern countries are the only two oil producers that have the ability to pump millions of more barrels of more oil, which could potentially calm the market.
However, both the Saudis and Emiratis have refused requests to pump more oil, and instead are adhering to a production plan approved between them, a group of other producers led by Russia and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
While declining to speak to Biden, both Prince Mohammed and Sheikh Mohammed took phone calls from Russian President Vladimir Putin last week and spoke with Ukraine’s president, after the US had requested that Prince Mohammed mediate in the conflict, a Saudi official told the Journal.
Former President Donald Trump enjoyed a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia and the UAE after a regional dispute with Qatar, and pulling the US out of the Iran nuclear deal.
Biden said during a presidential debate in 2019 that there is "…very little social redeeming value in the present government in Saudi Arabia," and during the 2020 presidential election, promised to treat Saudi Arabia as a "pariah."