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Analysis

With Democrats Surviving Midterms, Would Biden Seek Revenge on Bin Salman?

Tuesday 15 November 2022
With Democrats Surviving Midterms, Would Biden Seek Revenge on Bin Salman?

Alwaght- As the initial results give the Democrats a narrow survival in the House and a defeat in the Senate, they, and especially Biden, look satisfied with the outcome. While the Democrats expected a ‘red wave’ amid the drop in President Joe Biden's popularity rates, the skyrocketing fuel prices, and Trump’s full-power presence in the Congress midterms, this did not happen and the Republicans find difficulty challenging the White House policies in the two years left to the presidential elections. 

Now, in a situation where Biden, having spent a difficult and strenuous week, is thinking about continuing the two-year journey until the end of his presidential term, the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who had specially counted on a heavy defeat of the Democrats should worry about losing his gamble in which he confronted the Biden's White House. 

It was just last month that Saudi Arabia and the UAE decided to cut oil production by two million barrels a day in apparent concert with Russian interests in OPEC+. This decision was panned by the White House officials and it strained the bilateral relations between Riyadh and Washington. The decision, which was considered a painful blow to Biden and the Democratic Party in the mid-term elections of the Congress, happened only a few weeks after Biden's critical trip to Saudi Arabia and a meeting with bin Salman to demand an increase in oil output. The decision was obviously a defiance of the US by the Saudi king-in-waiting. 

First revenge signal: Democratic focus on Twitter deal 
After the election results were announced, bin Salman's reasons of concerns over the past two years showed themselves sooner than expected. The comments by Biden and some Democratic figures about the need to probe the possible Saudi efforts to get a toehold in Twitter through helping Elon Musk finalize the social networking site’s purchase deal marked the initial sparks of possible White House revenge on the Saudi crown prince. 

Last month, the billionaire Musk concluded the $44 billion deal to buy Twitter, ending a legal case with the company. The deal was financed by Musk and a number of investors. 

According to the US Financial Supervisory Authority's filing on the deal, the Saudi Prince Al Waleed bin Talal and the Kingdom Holding Company (KHC) are the second largest investors in the new private company. 

According to the probe result, Prince bin Talal transferred directly about 35 million shares that he previously had in the social network to Twitter and through KHC, making himself the second largest shareholder of the social network. 

Biden, had who said he plans no meeting with bin Salman in the upcoming G20 summit in Indonesia, on Wednesday night said: “I think that Elon Musk’s cooperation and/or technical relationships with other countries is worthy of being looked at.” 

Later in October, Senator Chris Murphy in a Twitter messaged had said: “We should be concerned that the Saudis, who have a clear interest in repressing the political speech and impacting the US politics, are now the second largest owner of a major social media platform.” 

Murphy asked the Senate Foreign Investment Committee to launch an investigation into the national security implications of Saudi Arabia's takeover of Twitter. 

Also, Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, who chairs the Finance Committee of the Senate, expressed his concerns about the Saudi investment on Twitter. He called for prevention of the Saudi regime's access to Twitter account information, direct messages, and other data that could be used to identify political dissidents or suppress criticism of the royal family. 

Many are concerned that the Saudi rulers, who are known for their suppressive policies, would use the platform as a propaganda tool. Saudi Arabia has the second largest number of Twitter users, but the tweets that are critical of the absolutely-ruled kingdom are suppressed. That by buying a major stake of Twitter the Saudi authorities would gain broader access to the data of the Saudi citizens and dissidents has turned into a serious concern. Recently, a former Twitter employee was convicted of spying for Saudi Arabia. Riyadh has taken several actions against Twitter users. For example, it recently sentenced American citizen Saad Ibrahim al-Madi to 16 years in prison for posting tweets critical of the Saudi government. A 34-year-old woman named Salma al-Shahab was also jailed for having a activities on Twitter and following and re-tweeting posts by dissidents and critics of the government. 

Bin Salman's worry about Trump loss 
 The midterm elections were unfavorable to bin Salman’s gamble from another aspect and it is Trump losing his ground among the Republicans. Before the election, he was the undisputed leader of the Republican Party, and the leaders of this party had no opposition to him running for the 2024 presidential election. But the midterms have become Trump's practical benchmark, and doubts have grown about whether he can truly retake the White House as he claims. 

Trump is now labeled a loser as he set a disappointing record in 2018 midterms, 2020 presidential elections, and 2022 midterms. Meanwhile, his hard-line stands both cracked the ranks of the Republicans and helped Democrats cover their weak points. 

With Trump position for next presidential election damaged, bin Salman’s worries would increase as he put all of his eggs in the single basket of Trump win in 2024. The Saudi prince now represses the opponents freely and as long as his father King Salman is alive, he sees no harm to his position. Still, the dream for ascension of the desert throne is like stepping on quicksand that risks sucking him down with the absence of a supporter in the White House. 

Tags :

Bin Salman Biden Revenge Midterms Oil Twitter Trump

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