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55 percent of US citizens oppose Biden's 'megadeal' with Saudi Arabia: Poll

US President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at a summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on 16 July 2022. (A photo by AFP)

Fifty-five percent of US citizens say they oppose a defense pact with Saudi Arabia that would commit the US to send forces to defend the kingdom in the event of an attack. 

In a poll conducted between 29-31 August by Harris Poll and the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, 55 percent of Republicans and Democrats said they were against such an agreement.

The survey also shows that “nearly 3 in 5 Americans [58 percent] feel this is a bad deal for the US, and there is no justification for committing US soldiers to defend Saudi Arabia.”

The results show no significant difference in responses when accounting for the political affiliation of those surveyed.

“The American people have consistently opposed deepening America’s military presence in the Middle East. They certainly have opposed new wars, and in this specific case, the war would be started not by the US itself, but as a result of a pact with Saudi Arabia,” an official at Quincy Institute was quoted as saying.

He further said that a defense agreement with Saudi Arabia “would be the furthest the US has ever committed itself to defending regional states, and it won’t end there”, he added, saying that other US allies in the region like the UAE and Qatar would likely seek similar assurances from Washington.

The poll comes amid reports that US and Saudi officials are discussing the details of a mutual defense pact as part of Washington’s push for the Saudi kingdom to normalize ties with Israel.

Deal with Saudi Arabia, a tough sell for the Biden administration

The US already has around 3,000 troops stationed throughout Saudi Arabia, which is home to the world’s largest crude oil reserves.

A treaty with stronger mutual defense commitments would need support from two-thirds of the US Senate. This would be a tough sell for the Biden administration, with some US lawmakers already voicing wariness of deeper entanglements with Riyadh.

Human rights groups have already cautioned the US about entering into a security agreement with Riyadh as part of potential normalization with Israel.

US, not a reliable partner for Saudis

The Biden administration’s pursuit of a normalization agreement between Saudi Arabia and the Israeli regime is mostly ignoring the Palestinians' stated aim of an independent state.

Saudi Arabia has said it is seeking concessions for the Palestinians.

US officials have sought for months to broker what would be an agreement between the two apparent adversaries – though behind-the-scenes allies – but the Saudis have remained resistant so far.

Saudi Arabia seems to be reluctant toward normalization with Israel and is taking a cautious approach to any public steps that could be seen as a normalization act.

US efforts have been complicated as the Israeli regime has played down any prospect of giving significant ground to the Palestinians as part of a normalization deal with Saudi Arabia.

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