Saudi Arabia Looks to Join the BRICS

Moves by the five BRICS countries to establish an alternative to the current unstable and unjust international financial system are attracting a growing number of other countries – including from among the West’s erstwhile staunchest allies. Thus, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa stated on Oct. 18, shortly after his two-day state visit to Saudi Arabia, that Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) had expressed “Saudi Arabia’s desire to be part of BRICS”. South Africa will chair the group’s summit in 2023, at which time, Ramaphosa said, “the matter is going to be under consideration”.

Formal applications for membership submitted by Iran and Argentina will also be considered (cf. SAS 37/22). Saudi membership, however, would be especially significant in light of the BRICS discussion of a new, global reserve currency, since the strength of the U.S. dollar is due in part to its dominant role in the international oil market. In addition, relations between Washington and Riyadh are particularly strained at the moment, as evidenced in the recent Saudi refusal to increase oil production. President Biden responded by threatening serious “consequences for what they’ve done with Russia” (in reference to Moscow’s arguing for a decrease in oil production by the OPEC+ group.)

Initiatives to expand BRICS, including to Saudi Arabia, were welcomed by China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin, when asked about the a potential application from Riyadh. He also recalled that at the Summit in Beijing in June, 13 other countries attended and agreed to foster a “global development partnership” (cf. SAS 26/22).

Turkey, another longstanding Western ally and a member of NATO, strongly criticized the Biden Administration’s attitude toward Saudi Arabia after the decision was made to cut oil production. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu noted on Oct. 21, that Washington’s “bullying against Saudi Arabia is inappropriate”. If the Americans want prices to fall, he said, they should lift the sanctions on Venezuela and Iran.

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