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Attack on Saudi oil storage facility – test of Biden’s patience?

The recent attack on the Saudi oil plant owned by Saudi Armaco in Jeddah received a strong response from the United States (US). There has been a continuous conflict between Yemen and Saudi Arabia since the power tussle failed in the former country after the Arab Spring. Saudi Arabia had intervened to avoid the rise of the militant group Houthi in Yemen but that resulted in an animosity between the two countries. Since there have been several instances of friction and violence.

The attack on the oil storage yard resulted in a sudden rise in the oil prices to as high as USD 70 per barrel. The incident received a serious condemnation from the American embassy who extended its full support to Saudi Arabia and released an official statement announcing its full support and commitment towards the defence of the Kingdom. 

The US and Saudi Arabia have had a close relationship for several decades. This attack on the oil facility has several implications on international politics and especially for the American role in the dynamics. It indicates the ignorance towards international law on part of the Houthis. It is definitely a direct attack on a crucial source of energy and hence displays the callous attitude of the people involved. It is also a sign of an oblivious towards the mechanism of international checks and balances.

In such a scenario, a strong response from the US demonstrates a clear disapproval of resort to violent means to settle disputes. US has continued to support Saudi Arabia by sending troops as well as equipments in the past. American administration has been known to promote peace talks between Saudi Arabia and Yemen along with the United Nations. 

Yemen is an economically weak and politically unstable country. Thus, actions like these endanger a strong response from Saudi Arabia and its supporters. Though there have been incidents of violence initiated by Yemen in the past, US President Joe Biden is expected to react strongly to such occurrences. President Biden promoted democracy and peaceful existence on various occasions in different contexts and has resolved to work towards attaining the same. It is now to be seen whether Yemen rolls back from its aggressive policies or will President Biden proceed with stricter measures on the lines of Myanmar. Response from several other countries is awaited in this case.