June 8, 2023 | Flash Brief

Blinken, Saudi Crown Prince Meet in Saudi Arabia

June 8, 2023 | Flash Brief

Blinken, Saudi Crown Prince Meet in Saudi Arabia

Latest Developments

Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia on June 7 to discuss a wide range of bilateral issues, including potential Saudi normalization with Israel, the situation in Yemen, the conflict in Sudan, and human rights. In addition to meeting with the crown prince, Blinken participated in a U.S.-Gulf Cooperation Council Ministerial and a Ministerial meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. 

The visit comes as U.S.-Saudi relations are in a state of flux. On June 6, three months after the two countries restored diplomatic relations following a seven-year rift, Iran reopened its embassy in Riyadh. China brokered the Iran-Saudi rapprochement, adding momentum to the warming relations between Riyadh and Beijing.

Expert Analysis

“With Iran advancing toward a nuclear arsenal, and the U.S. perceived as in retreat, the Saudis are testing the ‘if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em’ principle by drawing closer to Iran and China. To prevent such a regional realignment, with its perils for U.S. security, Secretary Blinken needs to offer an updated version of the traditional U.S.-Saudi partnership. At stake is whether the future Middle East is dominated by a U.S.-Saudi-Israel alliance or a China-Saudi-Iran alliance.” — Orde Kittrie, FDD Senior Fellow

Saudi Oil Production Cuts

On June 4, Saudi Arabia announced it would make a deep cut to its oil output, its biggest reduction in years, in an effort to boost prices. The Biden administration has strongly opposed prior such cuts, arguing that they undermine the global economy and boost Russian oil revenues, but this time — perhaps in deference to Blinken’s trip — the administration has thus far had a milder response.

Potential Saudi-Israel Normalization

The Saudis have conditioned normalization with Israel on concessions from the United States to Riyadh, including security guarantees, more weapons sales, and cooperation in building a Saudi civil nuclear program. The Saudis correctly recognize that the United States would only make such concessions to the kingdom in the context of a peace agreement that, on balance, bolsters rather than harms Israeli security.

In a June 5 speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Secretary Blinken emphasized that the “United States has a real national security interest in promoting normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia.” He said he would work toward that outcome on his Saudi trip this week.

Iran to Reopen Embassy in Saudi Arabia as Blinken Visits,” FDD Flash Brief

Saudi Arabia, Iran Agree to Reestablish Diplomatic Ties,” FDD Flash Brief

The United States and Saudi Arabia: A Possible Path Forward,” by Bradley Bowman, Orde Kittrie, and Ryan Brobst


Gulf States Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran Nuclear Israel Nonproliferation