Saudi Arabia’s recent inclusion in the BRICS group of nations signals a significant shift in its geopolitical aspirations. This move reflects the kingdom’s intent to establish a more prominent presence on the global stage and diversify its alliances, challenging its long-standing partnership with the United States.
BRICS Cooperation Prospects:
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, expressed optimism about enhanced collaboration with BRICS nations following the invitation extended to Saudi Arabia, alongside the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Egypt, and Argentina. The prince emphasized the potential for cultivating fresh economic opportunities and elevating bilateral relations.
Divergence from U.S. Influence:
Amid growing concerns over the U.S.’s commitment to regional security, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have taken independent paths. Notable instances include the Saudi-Russian oil market partnership, strengthened ties with China, and decisions to curtail oil production despite U.S. requests. This gradual departure from U.S. influence underscores Saudi Arabia’s pursuit of a more autonomous foreign policy.
China’s Role in the Equation:
China’s role in this evolving scenario cannot be overstated. The nation, a major consumer of Saudi oil, has championed the expansion of the BRICS group to counterbalance Western influence. This aligns with Saudi Arabia’s increasing openness to forging stronger ties with China.
A notable development showcasing this shifting landscape was Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Saudi Arabia. This followed U.S. President Joe Biden’s unsuccessful attempt to persuade the kingdom to increase oil production and alleviate soaring U.S. gasoline prices.
A noteworthy concern for the U.S. is the possibility of Saudi Arabia pricing oil in non-dollar currencies. China’s push for oil to be priced in renminbi has prompted discussions within the framework of the Abraham Accords, a series of agreements that normalized relations between Israel and Gulf states.
Saudi Arabia appears to be in a unique position, delicately balancing its engagement with both Beijing and Washington. The kingdom seems poised to align with the side offering the most substantial advantages, exemplified by its engagement with both the Abraham Accords and the BRICS group.
Global Impact and Future Outlook:
The leadership’s focus on the BRICS group underscores its recognition of the bloc’s significance, particularly China and India’s roles in the global order. This, however, doesn’t limit Saudi Arabia’s aspirations to BRICS alone; the kingdom views the G20 and other international forums as instrumental in advancing its geopolitical influence.
Saudi Arabia’s acceptance into the BRICS group resonates with its broader ambitions of becoming a formidable player on the global stage. The kingdom’s strategic manoeuvring, bridging traditional alliances with new partnerships, presents a dynamic landscape that has far-reaching implications for the global balance of power.