Saudi Arabia is determined to secure a military pact that would require the United States to defend the kingdom in exchange for opening ties with Israel, and will not scrap the deal even if Israel does not offer major concessions to the Palestinians, in their bid for citizenship, three regional sources said.
This is what the international news agency Reuters exclusively reports on the matter.
A NATO-style ironclad pact that would have guaranteed the kingdom pre-requested protection failed when the issue was first discussed between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and US President Joe Biden during a visit to the latter in Saudi Arabia in July 2022.
Instead, a US source said it could draw on treaties Washington has with Asian states or, if that doesn't win approval from the US Congress, could be similar to a US deal with Bahrain, home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet.
Such an agreement would not need the support of Congress.
Washington could also "sweeten" any deal by designating Saudi Arabia a major non-NATO ally, a status already granted to Israel, the US source said.
But all the sources said Saudi Arabia would not settle for less than mandatory US defense guarantees if faced with attacks, such as the September 14, 2019 missile attacks on its oil sites. that shook world markets.
Riyadh and Washington blamed Iran, the kingdom's regional rival, although Tehran denied any role.
The deals, which give the world's biggest oil exporter US protection in exchange for normalization with Israel, would reshape the Middle East by uniting two old enemies and linking Riyadh to Washington after China's attacks in the region.
For Biden, it would also be a diplomatic victory to celebrate ahead of the 2024 US elections.