The US is reportedly discussing details of a mutual defense treaty with Saudi Arabia amid a push by the Biden admin. to get the Kingdom to normalize ties with Israel.
The pact — which would reportedly mirror security treaties between the US and its allies Japan and South Korea — would see Washington and Riyadh pledge military support to each other should one of them come under attack in the region or on Saudi soil.
Tying a US-Saudi defense pact to normalizing Saudi relations with Israel is an intelligent move by the Biden admin. While Tel Aviv and Riyadh seek security from Iran, the triangular deal would strengthen Washington's grip over critical regional trade routes in its geopolitical struggle with China. While there are still some disagreements between the two countries, the vast potential strategic benefits of a Saudi-Israeli and security guarantees to Saudi Arabia would make Washington the biggest winner.
The days when the Biden admin. vowed to make Saudi Arabia an international "pariah" are long gone. While Washington needs to improve relations with all countries, offering Saudi Arabia a defense pact for purely geostrategic reasons goes too far and could ultimately mean sending US troops to defend the autocratic Kingdom. Offering Riyadh military protection in return for normalizing relations with Israel, billions for the US arms industry, and cheap oil would completely strip Washington of any moral credibility.
Biden is seeking to put US-Saudi ties back on a solid footing to prevent Riyadh from falling to China and stabilize global energy markets. However, a defense pact is not the right tool to advance the normalization of US-Saudi relations — Washington should instead devote its military resources to threats from China and Russia. Meanwhile, Washington and Riyadh should seek deep US involvement in the Kingdom's defense reform to address Saudi Arabia's national security concerns and deter Iran.
There's a 24% chance that Saudi Arabia will establish diplomatic relations with Israel before Jan. 20, 2025, according to the Metaculus prediction community.