Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng – February 2019. (Photo credit: SPA)
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) did not attend the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in order to listen to a phone call between his father King Salman and US President Biden, according to a CNN Arabic report.
MbS was scheduled to attend the opening ceremony of the 2022 Olympics. His name was on the official list of attendees, in spite of many other world leaders boycotting the event.
The reason for his absence was said to be due to a scheduling conflict, as reported by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, but the CNN report suggests otherwise, citing two sources.
The sources say the phone call took place on 9 February, but MbS was only a listener and did not speak.
A US official confirmed the existence of this call to CNN, stating the discussion was about the stability of oil prices.
This report comes a few days after the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published a story that MbS ignored a phone call from President Biden in the midst of the US gasoline price increase crisis, seeking Saudi Arabia’s contribution to oil price reduction through an increase in output.
The leader of the UAE, Mohammad bin Zayed, also ignored Biden’s phone call at that time.
Saudi Arabia has not been pleased with the lack of support the US has shown towards the Gulf kingdom’s war on Yemen and the ongoing legal proceedings in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
On 3 March, MbS suggested the Gulf kingdom may reduce its investments in the US.
“We have the possibility of boosting our interests, and the possibility of reducing them,” MbS declared in reference to relations with the US.
The UAE, on the other hand, are seeking to improve their relations with Russia, given the massive amounts of investments they have made in the Russian economy over the years.
The UAE has gone back and forth lately, giving conflicting statements as to whether or not it will increase oil output to calm the global price hike after western sanctions cut Russia off from access to the global economic network, following the special military operation in Ukraine.
Russia has been paying back the UAE for their loyalty during this period of economic uncertainty, including voting to condemn the Yemeni resistance movement Ansarallah at the UN Security Council.
Both Gulf kingdoms seem to be torn between western and eastern powers. The CNN and WSJ reports suggest a potential tug-of-war between the US on one side and Russia and China on the other side, when it comes to exerting influence over the oil-rich kingdoms.