Donald Trump does not sympathize with Iran, but does not owe anything to the Salafi monarchy, openly criticizes the Islamic policy of its predecessor. Kingdom quarreled with Egypt, as the main sponsor of Cairo, it was replaced by the United Arab Emirates. In the Cooperation Council of the Arab States of the Persian Gulf, the positions of Riyadh are weakening - the Gulf monarchies do not accept Saudi domination. An alternative is to build relationships with new partners, including such unexpected ones as Israel and Algeria, and an attempt to form their own nuclear-missile potential, independent of the United States. Consider the position of the KSA, based on the materials of experts from the IBS S. S. Balmasov, A. A. Zheleznova and Yu. B. Shcheglovina.
With many unknowns
H. Clinton was the favorite of Riyadh and other Arab states in the US presidential elections. The US media wrote about financing her campaign through Saudi government and commercial structures, donating to the Clinton Family Foundation and direct lobbying for the interests of the kingdom. KSA public opinion was also on the side of the Democratic candidate. About 68 percent of Saudi respondents in the polls were for it. D. Trump's victory caused a shock in Riyadh. He was extremely negatively exposed in the Saudi media space - the victory of an “ardent Islamophobe” seemed to be a fundamental change in the US Middle East policy in the light of his statement that Saudi Arabia would not last long without America.
As for the royal family, Prince Turki al-Faisal urged Americans not to vote for him. Trump and Prince Al-Walid bin Talal's mutual trolling on Twitter caused a great response in Saudi media and social networks. In December, 2015 from all of the Saudi books chain Jarir was removed from Trump's books, including the Arabic translation of Think Like a Champion. However, one of the first world leaders to congratulate Trump on his victory was King Salman. He sent a telegram and spoke by telephone with the elected president of the United States. Trump expressed his gratitude and appreciation to the king and stressed his interest in developing bilateral relations between the two friendly countries. The congratulatory telegrams were also sent to him by the crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef and the heir to the crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The Saudi blogosphere responded to panic news about Trump's election as president of the United States. But then, like Western politicians, Saudi politicians who criticized the Republican changed their minds. Among them was Prince Al-Walid bin Talal, who congratulated him via Twitter. In an interview with the American television channel CNBC, the prince said that the Arab world would like to receive assurances that the new president would continue to treat him as an ally. The Saudi press and political analysts were later not as radical as at first. According to diplomatic sources, in a number of Gulf capitals we are sure that Trump’s policy will be different from the public statements he made on the eve of his election. Arab media say that one can hardly expect a drastic change in the US Middle East strategy.
One of the problems they see is Trump's innocence in the intricacies of Middle Eastern politics. He will have to get rid of Obama’s “heavy legacy”, who is accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, the chaos of the Arab Spring, the sufferings of the Syrian people and much more. Trump's victory from this point of view is seen as a possible departure from the failed policies of the Democrats, and the failed H. Clinton presidency would be Obama’s third term or Clinton’s third term, in which she played a key role (in the first case as the Secretary of State) . KSA fears that the new administration will focus on domestic issues, leaving Riyadh without political help and support, but increasing the payment for military protection.
Saudis are concerned that Trump can change the US position on a number of issues. This applies to Yemen and Syria. Especially if he comes to an agreement with Moscow, which is unacceptable for Riyadh. KSA is worried about who will lead the US foreign policy. The only thing that encourages Riyadh is that Trump’s negative attitude towards the nuclear deal with Iran concluded under Obama, to which he intends to amend. For KSA, Trump's Middle East policy is an equation with many unknowns.
Significantly characterizes the change in the system of Saudi-Egyptian relations история Cairo receiving the first tranche of the total IMF loan in 12 billion dollars. KSA tried to block it, which would lead to the suspension of Egypt's negotiations with the EU on a loan of 800 million euros, the World Bank and the African Development Bank. The main role in the confrontation was played by the UAE with a plan for additional funding from Egypt. November 13 Egypt received 2,75 billion dollars, which stopped the devaluation of the national currency. On the document, which approved the issuance of credit ARE, there was no signature of the representative of the KSA.
Abu Dhabi went to an open deliberate conflict with Riyadh. Disagreements between the UAE and KSA began shortly after the start of the operation of the Arab coalition in Yemen. The tasks solved by KSA, did not coincide with the interests of the UAE. The Emirates does not care about the gain of pro-Iranian Zaidites in the north of Yemen. They need to exclude the coming to power of the local "Muslim Brotherhood" - the "Islah" party (KSA began to flirt with them) and establish their control over the South Yemeni seaports. The UAE was not satisfied with the ambitions of Mohammed bin Salman as the “commander in chief” of the Arabian coalition in Yemen. From here began the process of decentralization of the coalition command launched by Abu Dhabi, which meant its end as a military formation.
Riyadh avenged the UAE by supporting the Djibouti government when they broke off relations with Abu Dhabi. The Saudis replaced the Emirati on the site of the main financial investor Djibouti and took over the arrangement of the future KSA military base, which was claimed by the United Arab Emirates. Abu Dhabi responded when he saved Cairo, and gave him time to relax and regroup. Instead of protest speeches due to the devaluation of the pound in Egypt, pro-government demonstrations paid by the UAE were held. The next tranche of the loan from the IMF is expected in May 2017. "The punishment of Egypt" did not take place largely due to the dislike of the leadership of the Emirates to Prince M. Bin Salman - as the blackmail of Lebanon failed, which KSA refused financial assistance.
Thus, at BSV, a new center of power has emerged: a bond of the United Arab Emirates - Egypt. Its influence will spread in Africa, the Maghreb and in the south of the Arabian Peninsula. Competitors for this tandem will be Riyadh and Doha. But in its “Saudoskepticism” the UAE in the GCC is not alone. Kuwait, as a result of the November 16 negotiations, agreed to sell Cairo two million tons of crude oil a month from January 1 of 2017 of the year and is ready to increase the volume if necessary. Egypt has signed memorandums of intent to conclude agreements on the sale of oil with Iraq and Azerbaijan. At the same time, the volumes of prospective supplies fixed in these documents do not exceed the Saudi ones. This leads to the conclusion that the agreements are to a large extent demonstrative, as is the visit of the Minister of Oil of Egypt to Iran. They signal to the KSA that the hegemony of Riyadh to make decisions in the Arab League has come to an end.
At the same time, in Cairo, they began to prepare for the opening of a lobbying campaign in the United States, taking into account the coming to power of the new president. The United States has long been the main sponsor of Egypt: every third dollar in Egypt’s economy was out of direct financial aid from the Americans. As President Obama's cadence, these relations were mostly frozen: financial support was curtailed to a minimum, and military-technical cooperation stopped. After the military coup in Egypt, the CIA and the Pentagon rotated the residency staff in Cairo, sending people who had confidential contacts with the Egyptian military, who began to occupy various positions in the executive office, but these contacts were not required by the White House.
In the GCC overdue split. Stability support in Egypt is one of the organization’s priorities. Over the past five years, Cairo’s assistance from countries that are part of the GCC has reached about 30 billions of dollars. And recently, the UAE was the main donor, supporting the overthrow of the Brothers and doubling the economic support of Cairo immediately after the coup. Abu Dhabi won this round of struggle for influence in Egypt from Riyadh, not only in Egypt, but also in the GCC and the Arab League. Now KSA is in the GCC in the minority. His position is supported only by Bahrain. Oman is in conflict with Riyadh over Yemen. Qatar will not be an ally of Saudi Arabia under any circumstances. So the policy of Riyadh, aimed at strengthening hegemony in the GCC, failed.
Pavlograd chemical plant received from Riyadh about 40 million dollars for revision in the interests of the KSA complex "Thunder-2", which includes ballistic and cruise missiles. As conceived by the Ukrainian gunsmiths, the Thunder-2 is a mobile launcher with two ground-to-ground missiles firing at 280 kilometers (with the possibility of increasing to 500 kilometers). The complex will use the KR, developed on the basis of the Kite project, to destroy ground targets. According to the assurances of the Ukrainians, "Thunder-2" will be able to overcome air defense of any complexity, including the Russian C-300 and C-400. At the same time, KSA needs access to technologies for the production of operational-tactical missiles with a radius from 1500 to 2000 kilometers to create means of delivering nuclear weapons weapons up to the goal.
After the agreement on the Iranian nuclear program, Riyadh set about creating its own security system, which guarantees parity in offensive weapons with Tehran. The KSA concluded that the United States would cool off toward a military alliance with the kingdom both because of the intensification of shale oil production, and because of the weakening of the role of the Saudis as a strategic supplier of hydrocarbons to the American market, and with regard to the Saudi role in ensuring stability in the Middle East.
The Arab Spring showed that in the event of turmoil in Saudi Arabia, because of Iran’s exports of the “Shiite revolution,” Washington will take a wait-and-see attitude. The only thing that could force the US to take the security threats to KSA seriously is that it has nuclear weapons and means of delivery. Moreover, the US is blocking Saudi attempts to buy rocket technology. The embargo was weakened only by the sale of some types of UAVs.
Hence the interest of Riyadh to the Ukrainian and Belarusian arms markets. In Minsk KSA is working on the issue of manufacturing mobile chassis for missile systems. Rockets promised to do in Ukraine. According to experts, the Ukrainian manufacturers now can not make a rocket in the "iron", to test and run in the series. We are dealing with a scam of Square Gunsmiths (whence the mention of the ability of the new complex to overcome C-300, which Iran possesses) or sale under the guise of design work of the old Soviet documentation. KSA provides for the creation of factories for the production of missiles only at home, that is, the Ukrainian military-industrial complex sells such technologies with countries that are on the list of states that the US has banned the import of such weapons.
Algeria on the price tag
The visit of the Prime Minister of the ANDR, Abdelmalek Sellal, to Riyadh 16 – 17 in November highlighted the change in the attitude of the Algerian leadership towards Saudi Arabia. Selalal confirmed the existence of an official government decree to facilitate Saudi businessmen’s access to ANDR to establish a true partnership between the business circles of the two countries, primarily in the development of the energy sector. Algerian Minister of Industry and Mines A. Busherab listed incentive measures for investors from KSA. Significantly, Algeria’s interest in receiving Saudi money is a statement from Sellall in support of Saudi Arabia “in its fight against terrorism”.
This is an attempt to revise the previous negativity in the context of the financial and economic crisis in ANDR. The Algerian leadership hopes to attract Saudi investments to modernize the oil industry, despite the fact that relations between the two countries have been tense until recently. During the Cold War, the Algerian leadership came up with slogans in support of Arab socialism, hostile to the monarchy of Saudi Arabia. ANDR leaders tried to compete with KSA for influence in the Arab world. Enmity went even further in the 90s, when Riyadh semi-officially, through private foundations, supported Salafi radicals in Algeria fighting against the ruling secular regime. This assistance did not stop after the defeat of underground jihadists by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in 2001. Support in the zero years by the Saudi secret services in many respects predetermined the survivability of the Islamic radicals of Algeria, preventing their final elimination. In recent years, the tensions in Algerian-Saudi relations have reached a climax: the leadership of the DPR sharply opposed the Saudi idea of creating a "Sunni" army to fight the armed forces of the "Shiite Iran" in Yemen and refused to provide military transport to Riyadh Aviation for the transfer to the Yemeni territory of the forces of the allied KSA countries.
In many ways, the position of Algeria was determined by the fact that, in spite of Riyadh, he began to establish relations with Tehran, torpedoing the idea of the Saudi leadership to head the Sunni world against the Iranian Shiite threat. In response, Riyadh accused the ADR of indulging in terrorism and made threats. After that, attempts were made to revitalize radical Islamic groups in Algeria, including Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AKIM), traditionally supported by KSA special services. Warming the al-Assad regime, which Algeria rendered to him in LAS and other international organizations, also did not contribute to warming, including on the basis of fears that after Syria he would be the target of Islamic radicals.
In the first half of 2016, the situation began to change. The parties began to explore the possibility of improving relations. In Riyadh, it is understood that if there are many “fronts” at the KSA borders, it is dangerous to respond to the diplomatic actions of Algeria, inciting a new civil war there. Much more effective may be the option of "buying Algeria", which is experiencing difficulties due to the crisis provoked by the fall in hydrocarbon prices. An example of this was demonstrated by Qatar, with whom the KSA continues to compete for influence in the Arab-Muslim world.
In this regard, discussions began on a visit to Algeria by the Saudi monarch, who, as expected, could take place on May 2016. However, under the changed circumstances, due in large part to the deterioration of the socio-economic situation in the ADR, Algerian leaders had to go with a bow to KSA. What is significant: over the past two years, despite the optimistic assurances of the authorities about success in overcoming the crisis, the real situation is alarming. Over the 2014 – 2016 years, the country has lost more than 40 percent of gold reserves and, despite claims to solve the problem of the stagnant energy industry, continues to experience problems with the replenishment of the treasury.
Attempts by Algeria to obtain a loan on favorable terms, including from China, have failed. After the failure in Libya, China is not ready to spend billions of dollars on risky projects from Beijing’s point of view. Despite assurances by Algerian officials about the country's political stability, Chinese analysts are less optimistic about the medium-term outlook for the situation in North Africa as a whole. As for the IMF, whose loan was recently received by Egypt, ANDR is not going to go the same way, considering the conditions for providing money to be bonded.
With the emerging bilateral “warming”, questions arise: how will this affect the support of the Algerian jihadist groups by the Saudi special services and about the ANRD line on the Yemeni and Syrian tracks. If the Islamic Radicals in Algeria stop financing Riyadh, the KSA is likely to lose control over them (as well as influence on the situation in the country). At the same time, the development of relations between Algeria and KSA may have a negative effect on Russia. Given the investment opportunities of the Saudis, the real arrival of Riyadh in Algeria will lead to a significant increase in oil production there, which will affect the market situation of hydrocarbons and affect the political relations of the ANDR and Russia.
However, a scenario of this kind will also threaten KSA, which depends on oil prices no less. In any case, recent events demonstrate the attempts of Algeria to pursue a pragmatic policy that proceeds not from the sympathies and antipathies of the leadership, but from the country's strategic interests.