US losing friends with its them-or-us stance

Photo taken on Oct 25, 2022 shows the panel session of the 6th edition of Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference in the King Abdul Aziz International Conference Center, in Riyadh, capital of Saudi Arabia. (FII Institute handout via Xinhua)

The 2022 session of the Future Investment Initiative, commonly known as "Davos in the Desert", was held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, last week, bringing together prominent policymakers, CEOs, investors, entrepreneurs and emerging business leaders to discuss the future of international investment and the global economy.

No US government official attended the event. But that was because none were invited.

When asked about the non-participation of anyone from the US administration ahead of the event, FII group CEO Richard Attias said they made the decision so that the event did not turn into a "political platform".

The "Davos in the Desert" has further exposed the divergences between the United States and Saudi Arabia. Tensions have been apparent between the two for quite some time, and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has exacerbated them.

While Washington has insisted on sanctioning Russia for its "special military operation" in Ukraine, Riyadh has maintained good relations with Moscow, which has irked the Joe Biden administration.

It was further displeased with "OPEC+" members deciding at their ministerial-level conference at the beginning of October to cut their crude oil production by 2 million barrels daily compared with that of August, despite US President Joe Biden urging them to increase production during his visit to Saudi Arabia in July.

And Saudi Arabia knows where the opportunities are. Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud expressed his country's desire to join BRICS earlier this month, which is regarded as it adjusting its previous "oil for security" strategy that aligned it with the US.

The Future Investment Initiative also exposed the divergences between the US business community and the Biden administration. Even without the participation of any official representatives, as many as 400 US executives attended the event upon invitation. Among them were JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman, Bridgewater founder Ray Dalio and Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, who shared a stage on Monday. Despite the global recession, the International Monetary Fund has estimated Saudi Arabia's economic growth will be 7.6 percent for 2022, which is an attractive cake for US investors.

US politicians should be reminded that in this way they are turning many friends into adversaries. Saudi Arabia has signaled that it is no longer tied to Washington's apron strings. Its turning to BRICS signifies recognition of a global community that is forming outside of the established Western one that is dictated by the US and under the self-serving manipulation of the financial and commercial controls that it applies to secure its advantages.