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It’s the bankers who most want Biden and MbS to make nice

Saudi Arabia want better relations with the US, Biden wants cheaper oil - but Wall Street can smell the money

Donald Trump had a vastly different relationship with the Saudis when he visited in 2017 as president White House
Donald Trump had a vastly different relationship with the Saudis when he visited in 2017 as president

When Joe Biden entered the White House as the 46th President of the United States he had a lot of issues on his plate domestically.

So it is no surprise that the best way to describe his administration’s policies in the Middle East is that it “has room to improve”.

The decision to distance itself from key Middle East allies early in the administration was naïve and short-sighted, so Biden, nearly a year and half into his presidency, has been left to make a belated trip to the region to try to repair the damage.

And it’s not like he has much time to spare, as fuel costs continue to rise as a result of the Ukraine war and the sanctions imposed on Russia, and this will be a big factor when US voters go to the polls for the mid-term elections in November.

Crude costs were up nearly a third in the first quarter of this year, crossing the $100-a-barrel mark, and he had reportedly reached out to his allies in the Gulf to increase production and help rein in prices at the pumps.

I am not surprised the Saudis rebuffed the US request to boost oil output, given the Biden administration’s harsh words about Saudi Arabia on the campaign trail and early in his presidency. 

The Saudis, Emiratis and other major oil producers are in pole position related to oil production, due to the effects of Russian sanctions. It would make sense that they would use that leverage to improve relations with the US.

Some media have suggested the Saudi regime’s strategy is to stay the course, as they pin their hopes on Donald Trump’s return to the Oval Office in two years.

If that is their strategy – and I have major doubts about that assertion – then I don’t think it would be sound.

I think it’s likely we will have a Republican president in 2024, but the GOP candidate with the least chance to win that election would be Donald Trump.

Regardless of who becomes the 47th resident of the White House, those who exert the real power – the bankers in Wall Street – currently view the Middle East as an area filled with opportunity. 

The region has favourable demographics, benefits from higher oil prices, enjoys a burgeoning tech scene and, in particular, is becoming a fintech hub.

I notice more and more of my industry colleagues spending time and growing their teams in the region. Let’s see how Biden fairs when he visits them next week.

Anthony Scaramucci is the founder and managing partner of SkyBridge Capital and a former White House communications director under President Donald Trump