Saudi Arabia's Ballistic Missile Program: Rivalry for Influence of US and Chinese Military Powers in the Gulf States

Saudi Arabia's Ballistic Missile Program: Rivalry for Influence of US and Chinese Military Powers in the Gulf States

Saudi Arabia - At the end of last year, it was reported that Saudi Arabia was developing a ballistic missile with the support of China. Not only Saudi Arabia, other Middle Eastern countries such as Iran also launched its ballistic missile tests.

Where Iran's ballistic missile test targets nuclear installations belonging to its eternal enemy, Israel. The Middle East tensions that continue to flare up have made the Gulf States back into the international spotlight.

According to Anadolu Agency, Saudi Arabia and Iran have China's support in developing ballistic missiles. Of course this cannot be ignored by the US, so Washington is trying to stem China's influence.

The international community is also curious about the US attitude towards the Gulf countries, which are currently in warm relations with China. The problem between the US and Iran has arisen, one of which is due to sanctions against Iran which has nuclear weapons. In addition, Iran is now fully accepted as a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

This resulted in a complete unveiling of the asymmetry of power against the Saudis in the rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia in the Gulf. The US reluctance to respond to Iranian threats against the Saudi Arabian regime is cited as one of the reasons Riyadh is cooperating with China.

Then the withdrawal of US air defense systems from south of Saudi Arabia's capital, Riyadh in September, required the Saudis to look for alternatives in defense systems.

It said Saudi Arabia was turning to China, of which Beijing is a strong rival to Washington in the defense and arms industries.

This important change occurred in US policy, which in the past regarded the Middle East as a foreign policy priority to encircle the Soviets, ensure energy security, and support Israel's security.

The erosion of the US as the guarantor of regime security in the Gulf states and the coercion of its allies in the region to defend itself are the most important reasons why Saudi Arabia is seeking a different alternative.

Then the region-wide power vacuum created by the US being stripped of its role as guarantor of security in the region has created significant opportunities for China. Where China has for years been looking for opportunities in the global political arena.

China's strategy shifts to areas of energy security, trade and investment, responding to American military activities in the South China Sea, and forging regional alliances on the Uighur issue.

The Gulf region is vital in terms of energy security for China, whose energy needs are increasing due to its fast-growing economy. Where two thirds of global oil and natural gas reserves are in the Gulf countries. And geographically the Gulf region is quite close to China.

Even the Gulf states currently account for at least 55 percent of China's oil imports. "China, which consumes 15 million barrels of oil per day in 2021, is expected to increase its consumption to 20 million per day.

And it is nearly impossible to meet this increasing demand from other areas outside the Gulf. This alone makes the Gulf region very important for China's foreign policy," Anadolu Agency said. For additional information, it is known that relations between China and the US have been bad for a long time. Especially when the AUKUS Pact was created, which of course made China furious.

Even as reported by Sputnik, China did not hesitate to attack Australia because it joined AUKUS with the US and UK.

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