(Photo credit: Reuters)
On 24 March, Israeli public broadcaster KAN announced that US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will not visit Saudi Arabia or the UAE during his five day tour of West Asia and North Africa.
According to KAN, the decision to skip Saudi Arabia and the UAE was made at the last minute.
Nonetheless, the report says that there are plans for Blinken to meet with the Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and his Israeli counterpart, Yair Lapid, in Tel Aviv.
During his trip to the region, Blinken will visit Israel, Palestine, Algeria, and Morocco between 26 March and 30 March.
The decision to bypass Riyadh and Abu Dhabi is another sign of the frosty relations between the Biden administration and the two Gulf nations, which for years have been the closest allies of the US.
On 9 March, reports surfaced claiming that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) and his Emirati counterpart Mohammad bin Zayed (MbZ) declined phone calls from president Biden, as he searched for ways to halt the sharp rise in oil prices.
Relations between Riyadh and Washington have been tense since the start of the Biden presidency.
In the run up to the 2020 US presidential elections, Biden was critical of the leadership of Saudi Arabia. He vowed to hold MbS to account for the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He also promised to end US support for the Saudi-led coalition invasion of Yemen.
Despite the fact that Biden has done very little to honor these campaign promises, the Saudi leadership remained lukewarm towards his administration.
On 3 March, MbS announced that the kingdom was considering reducing its investments in the US.
The UAE has also begun to move away from Washington’s sphere of influence, choosing instead to cement their energy cooperation with the Kremlin.