White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan will visit Saudi Arabia this weekend for talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), as the White House seeks to improve ties with Riyadh, Reuters reported on 5 May.
Speaking at the pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), Sullivan said he would be traveling to Saudi Arabia on Saturday for talks with Saudi leaders. Sources speaking with Reuters said Sullivan would meet with Crown Prince MbS.
Sullivan said the Biden administration seeks a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear program and criticized the Trump administration’s 2018 decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by President Obama in 2015. The deal placed restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
“Yes, we will take the necessary action to ensure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon,” Sullivan said in his WINEP speech. Iranian leaders say they have no intention to develop nuclear weapons and that the country’s nuclear program is for peaceful civilian purposes.
Oil production cuts by Saudi-led OPEC+ last October and differences between the US and Saudi Arabia over the 2018 assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi –carried out by agents close to MbS — hurt relations between the two historical allies.
White House officials have also viewed Saudi Arabia’s recent decision to resume ties with Iran and Syria negatively.
Representatives from India and the UAE will also join Sullivan’s trip to discuss “new areas of cooperation between New Delhi and the Gulf as well as the United States and the rest of the region.” Sullivan said the US was working hard to normalize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
“Ultimately getting to full normalization is a declared national security interest of the United States. We have been clear about that,” he said. “Now as a sign of my seriousness about how much we’re focused on this, and how seriously we are taking this, I am not going to say anything further lest I upset the efforts we are undertaking on this issue,” he added.
In March, the New York Times reported that Saudi Arabia is seeking security guarantees from the US, including assistance in developing a civilian nuclear program and permission to purchase additional US weapons in exchange for normalizing relations with Israel.
Sullivan has stirred controversy while working closely with Saudi officials in the past. In 2011, the Obama administration and CIA partnered with Saudi intelligence to launch a covert war to topple the Syrian government.
US and Saudi planners partnered with Al-Qaeda affiliated groups in Iraq and Lebanon to infiltrate Syria and launch attacks on Syrian security forces under the cover of anti-government protests. Sullivan, then an advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is one of many Obama administration officials who oversaw the war on Syria war and now occupies a senior Biden administration post.
Jake Sullivan noted in an email to Clinton in February 2012 that “AQ [Al Qaeda] is on our side in Syria.”
More recently, Sullivan has taken a lead role in planning Ukraine’s US-backed war with Russia. He gained notoriety for helping plan the operation to destroy the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which was set to transport natural gas from Russia to Germany, according to reporting by journalist Seymour Hersh.