Saudi Arabia, UAE leaders not returning Biden's calls, disappointed with US - report

The two Mideast countries are disappointed with the Iran nuclear deal, as well as the American response to Houthi terrorist attacks in recent weeks.

 US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud deliver remarks to reporters before meeting at the State Department in Washington, US, October 14, 2021 (photo credit: REUTERS/JONATHAN ERNST)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud deliver remarks to reporters before meeting at the State Department in Washington, US, October 14, 2021
(photo credit: REUTERS/JONATHAN ERNST)

The leaders of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been declining calls from US President Joe Biden for several weeks, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing officials in the Middle East and the United States.

The messages of dissatisfaction sent by Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and Emirati Shiekh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan come as the two leaders share concerns over the American response to recent missile and drone strikes from Yemen, claimed by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.

The two nations are also reportedly disappointed with the state of negotiations in the ever-nearing Iran nuclear deal, according to the WSJ.

The deal, which IAEA chief Rafael Grossi called "very complex," does not account for Saudi and Emirati security interests, they claimed.

The US has been pushing to repair its relations with the two nations as it looks to stifle an oil crisis. Biden announced a ban on Russian oil imports on Tuesday as gas prices reach all-time highs globally.

"There was some expectation of a phone call [between Biden and MBS], but it didn’t happen," an American source told WSJ, adding that the call was intended to focus on "turning on the spigot [of Saudi oil]."

In addition, support from the Middle Eastern oil giants is increasingly important to the US in order to create a united front against Russia due to its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

 US PRESIDENT Joe Biden holds a news conference in the East Room of the White House, on Wednesday. (credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS) US PRESIDENT Joe Biden holds a news conference in the East Room of the White House, on Wednesday. (credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)

Saudi Arabia has long been disappointed with its reportedly deteriorating relationship with the US since Biden was sworn in, according to the report. Along with more support in Yemen, the Saudis are reportedly seeking assistance with their own civilian nuclear program, in addition to clarification on the legal position of MBS in the US due to lawsuits filed over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

In an interview with The Atlantic earlier this month, the Saudi crown prince commented on his relationship with Biden, stating he "does not care whether Biden misunderstood things about him."

The president should be "focusing on America's interests," MBS said, adding that he "does not have the right to lecture America and the same goes the other way."

The crown prince also reiterated, however, that Riyadh's objective was to maintain and strengthen its "long, historical" relationship with the US.