- The US is reportedly discussing details of a mutual defense treaty with Saudi Arabia amid a push by the Biden admin. to get the Kingdom to normalize ties with Israel.1
- The pact — which would reportedly mirror security treaties between the US and its allies Japan and South Korea — would see Washington and Riyadh pledge military support to each other should one of them come under attack in the region or on Saudi soil.2
- According to US officials, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman considers the potential defense deal an important component for ongoing talks with Washington over Israel and developing a civilian nuclear program.3
- The potential framework was also on US Pres. Joe Biden's agenda for discussions with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the UN General Assembly, where the latter is likely to address the prospect of a US-Israel defense agreement.4
- While the US on Tuesday confirmed that Israeli-Saudi normalization talks are continuing, Saudi officials said a robust US-Saudi defense deal would help prevent potential attacks by Iran or its armed partners, even after the recent diplomatic rapprochement between the two regional rivals.5
- Meanwhile, Riyadh on Wednesday 'welcomed the positive results' of a five-day round of negotiations between the Iran-backed Houthi rebels and Saudi officials on a potential roadmap to bolster the peace process in Yemen.6
- Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by New York Times. Tying a US-Saudi defense pact to normalizing Saudi relations with Israel is an intelligent move by the Biden admin. While Tel Aviv and Riyadh seek security from Iran, the triangular deal would strengthen Washington's grip over critical regional trade routes in its geopolitical struggle with China. While there are still some disagreements between the two countries, the vast potential strategic benefits of a Saudi-Israeli and security guarantees to Saudi Arabia would make Washington the biggest winner.
- Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Bostonglobe.com. The days when the Biden admin. vowed to make Saudi Arabia an international 'pariah' are long gone. While Washington needs to improve relations with all countries, offering Saudi Arabia a defense pact for purely geostrategic reasons goes too far and could ultimately mean sending US troops to defend the autocratic Kingdom. Offering Riyadh military protection in return for normalizing relations with Israel, billions for the US arms industry, and cheap oil would completely strip Washington of any moral credibility.
- Narrative C, as provided by Defense One. Biden is seeking to put US-Saudi ties back on a solid footing to prevent Riyadh from falling to China and stabilize global energy markets. However, a defense pact is not the right tool to advance the normalization of US-Saudi relations — Washington should instead devote its military resources to threats from China and Russia. Meanwhile, Washington and Riyadh should seek deep US involvement in the Kingdom's defense reform to address Saudi Arabia's national security concerns and deter Iran.