Signaling a dramatic potential expansion of the BRICS alliance amid growing tensions with the US over the Russia-Ukraine crisis, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has stated that Saudi Arabia wants to join the bloc.
As he wrapped up his two-day state visit to the desert kingdom, where he met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other Saudi leaders, Ramaphosa said that Bin Salman did express Saudi Arabia’s desire to be part of BRICS, pointing out that they are not the only country.
Named for member states Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, the bloc is scheduled to meet next year- under the chairship of South Africa – in Johannesburg for its annual summit that will most likely have expansion prospects high on the agenda.
On top of Riyadh’s BRICS inquiry, BRICS partners are expected to put under consideration adding such nations as Turkey, Egypt, and Algeria and other nations that have been making approaches.
Adding Saudi Arabia to the bloc would have potentially far-reaching implications, given that the strength of the US dollar stems partly from its status as the dominant currency in international oil markets.
Riyadh is reportedly already considering selling crude in Chinese yuan while BRICS members could potentially undermine additionally the dominance of the US dollar since they’re reportedly developing a new global reserve currency.
The US-Saudi partnership has been one of the most long-standing and mutually beneficial in the region although the countries aren’t formal allies.
The latest developments come in light of the row that emerged between Riyadh and Washington following OPEC’s decision to cut production quotas by 2 million bpd. The tensions went so high that President Biden accused the US’s longtime ally of siding with Russia in the Ukraine crisis, threatening with unspecified “consequences”.
Certain lawmakers went a step further, calling for cutting off cooperation with Saudi Arabia, including halting arms sales and withdrawing military support.