So given Yemen, Syria, and its recent domestic purges, Saudi Arabia is in turmoil. It's in a far weaker position than it was a short while ago.
This leaves the US in a far weaker regional position, too, at precisely the time when China and Russia are increasing their own presence (which we’ll get to next).
But first we have to discuss what might happen if a civil war were to engulf Saudi Arabia. The price of oil would undoubtedly spike. In turn, that would cripple the weaker countries, companies and households around the world that simply cannot afford a higher oil price. And there's a lot of them.
Financial markets would destabilize as long-suppressed volatility would explode higher, creating horrific losses across the board. That very few investors are mentally or financially prepared for such carnage is a massive understatement.
So... if you were Saudi Arabia, in need of helpful allies after being bogged down in an unwinnable war in Yemen, just defeated in a proxy war in Syria, and your longtime 'ally', the US, is busy pumping as much of its own oil as it can, what would you do?
Given its situation, is it really any surprise that King Salman and his son have decided to pivot to China? In need of a new partner that would align better with their current and future interests, China is the obvious first choice.
So in March 2017, only a very short while after Obama's failed visit, a large and well-prepared KSA entourage accompanied King Salman to Beijing and inked tens of billions in new business deals:China, Saudi Arabia eye $65 billion in deals as king visits
BEIJING (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s King Salman oversaw the signing of deals worth as much as $65 billion on the first day of a visit to Beijing on Thursday, as the world’s largest oil exporter looks to cement ties with the world’s second-largest economy.
The deals included a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between giant state oil firm Saudi Aramco and China North Industries Group Corp (Norinco), to look into building refining and chemical plants in China.
Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) and Sinopec, which already jointly run a chemical complex in Tinajin, also agreed to develop petrochemical projects in both China and Saudi Arabia.
Salman told Xi he hoped China could play an even greater role in Middle East affairs, the ministry added.
Deputy Chinese Foreign Minister Zhang Ming said the memorandums of understanding and letters of intent were potentially worth about $65 billion, involving everything from energy to space.