27.07.2022 Author: Viktor Mikhin

Biden’s Disastrous Visit to the Middle East

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Some time ago, it seemed that there was no more important topic in the United States and the world media controlled by it than the visit of President Joe Biden to the Middle East that had been anticipated and then took place. Well-paid commentators, “pundits and experts” who could hardly find Saudi Arabia on a geographical map and twisted the name of the Saudi prince, enthusiastically painted the victories and historical success of an infirm old man who hardly fulfills the duties of the president of the country at the behest of others.

And now this “historic visit” has taken place. So what are its results? What good and useful things did Biden do for the United States and the American people in the Arabian Desert?

Well, nothing particular. To paraphrase a well-known saying, the American mountain gave birth to an Arabian mouse. And nothing more, and the analysis and facts of further US-Saudi relations speak volumes about this.

So, Joe Biden’s first visit to the Middle East is over. Starting on July 13, the US President toured Israel and the Palestinian territories, where he met with senior officials, then traveled to Saudi Arabia to meet with the leaders of Saudi Arabia and the other five member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), as well as Egypt, Iraq and Jordan.

Experienced diplomats in Washington, Cairo and the capitals of the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf say that Biden’s four-day visit to the Middle East did not bring any surprises. Biden acted as expected and even below his old-age capabilities. Quite naturally, he confirmed his country’s “firm support” for Israel. In this regard, the so-called Jerusalem Declaration was signed with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, which guaranteed that Washington would ensure Israel’s military security in the face of any attempts by Iran to obtain nuclear weapons. At the same time, Biden replaced with himself the entire composition of the UN Security Council and even the entire international organization, personally determining who can and cannot own nuclear weapons. However, not a word was said about the fact that the arsenal of Israel has long included powerful nuclear weapons and modern means of their delivery. The fact that every day, many Israeli officials threaten Iran several times with a launch of a nuclear strike on its territory, was not mentioned either. Nor were many other things. Together with the brave Yankees, maneuvers for launching such a strike on Iranian territory and the Iranian people are repeatedly practiced. In short, everything is ready to wipe the state of Iran from the face of the Earth. But not a word was said about this in the open negotiations: after all, Biden is a “messenger of peace” and came with “good feelings” to the centuries-torn land of the Middle East.

At the same time, Biden demagogically, which he is able to do in a skillful manner, made several conciliatory steps towards the Palestinians, visiting Bethlehem, where he met with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.  In words, he supported the two-state solution, although without any commitment to involve the United States in resuming the long-stalled Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. He also did not mention the reopening of the American consulate in East Jerusalem or the Palestinian consulate in Washington, which were closed by his predecessor Donald Trump. And this is not surprising. Just now, American “experts,” having examined the bullet that killed the famous Palestinian journalist, the star of the Al Jazeera TV channel Shireen Abu Akleh, came to an amazing and paradoxical conclusion. It turns out that although the bullet was indeed fired by an Israeli soldier, the killing was “unintentional,” and therefore Tel Aviv “bears no responsibility.”

The degree of demagoguery and simple mockery is astounding. It turns out that the United States – the only country that dropped atomic bombs on the civilian Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, flooded the entire territory of Vietnam with chemical weapons called defoliants, destroyed the state structure of Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Libya and reduced the peoples of these countries to a ancient-level standard of living – allegedly committed all these atrocities “unintentionally.” They, again, “allegedly” fought their enemies there, and therefore are exempt from any responsibility and remain “honorary” members of the world community. It won’t be long before such a neo-Nazi and misanthropic ideology replaces the American constitution in Washington. At least, everything is heading in this direction.

In Saudi Arabia, everything was going according to the scenario that, as per Saudi Foreign Ministry officials, had been carefully coordinated long before the American president’s plane arrived in Jeddah from Tel Aviv. Biden’s interaction with the powerful Crown Prince, tomorrow’s King of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud (MBS) was strictly limited. After careful discussions between protocol groups on both sides, it was decided that the Prince would accompany the President on a visit through the corridor of the Al-Salam Palace after a welcoming exchange of fist bumps rather than a handshake. The exchange of fist bumps was performed on the advice of medical teams to avoid the risk of infection with COVID-19. However, then, upon returning to Washington, information passed that the infirm old man was ill with either COVID-19, or another type of flu, or skin cancer, or dementia, and most likely all these terrible diseases at once.

Obviously, if Biden had wanted to have “serious negotiations and make deals,” he should have to, first of all, talk with Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud. After all, it is him who is the effective ruler of Saudi Arabia, and there is no secret about it, all diplomats and all those who want to achieve any serious results in Riyadh know about it. That is why the protocol groups, judging by the reports of Saudi diplomats, developed a casuistry formula that included negotiations with the participation of delegations from both sides, “which allowed the Saudis to announce that Biden was going to hold bilateral talks with MBS, and the White House to say that there was no bilateral meeting.” At their bilateral meeting, Biden and the Crown Prince of the oil-rich kingdom put a lot of effort into simply adjusting to each other. Biden sidelined the case of Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and, according to a source from Riyadh, promised to “reconsider the decision to ban the sale of offensive armaments to Saudi Arabia.” For his part, MBS also verbally “green-lit” some increase in oil production beyond the levels agreed before the visit, and promised to work with the United States, the United Nations and other international and regional players to achieve a long-term truce in Yemen.

According to diplomatic sources who spoke before and after the visit, the mutual compromises reached during Biden’s trip show that realism is now the mode of action when it comes to US-Saudi relations. At the same time, this visit showed that Washington no longer controls the Arab rulers of the Persian Gulf countries, nor the level of oil production in them, nor is it a “trendsetter” in local politics. Today there is an understanding that, although both parties still need each other, new forms of interaction are needed, more freedoms and rights in these relations for Arab rulers.

With the emergence of new young and ambitious leaders in the Persian Gulf, especially in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as with the rise of other world powers, the dynamics of regional and international relations have changed. Biden’s invitation to the recently inaugurated UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed, perhaps one of the most influential political leaders in the region, to visit the White House for negotiations before the end of the year is intended not only to bring to a close the phase of tension between the two countries. At the same time, this step is intended to hold consultations on how to make things work in such a way that it meets the interests of both sides, and Washington hopes to scoop up the greatest benefit, as before. The UAE is currently a key player on many fronts, not only because of its temporary seat on the UN Security Council, but also because of its active diplomacy. While in Israel, Biden, Lapid, Mohammed bin Zayed and Narendra Modi attended the first virtual meeting of I2U2, a group created for quadrilateral cooperation in technology, food security and investment.

According to Al-Ahram sources, Biden’s visit to the region should also be viewed through a prism that takes into account the US foreign policy strategy, increasingly focused on ousting China and Russia from Washington’s traditional zones of influence after retreating from there under Donald Trump.  Egyptian sources of the newspaper say that it is not in Washington’s interests to weaken attention to deterring China and Russia by paying too much attention to human rights. They argue that, although democracy and human rights demagogically remain an integral part of US diplomacy, they are an important and effective tool that different administrations use in different ways. By having decided to reaffirm its positions in the Middle East, especially on the eve of a possible new nuclear deal with Iran, the Joe Biden administration made a conscious decision to reduce its “speech volume” when it comes to communicating disagreements with its Arab allies.

But, be that as it may, it is quite clear that Biden’s pompous visit to the Middle East failed miserably. None of the tasks were completed, not even by half. All this suggests that the “American star” has firmly set. And the stars of those countries that actively advocate for a new international order have shone brightly in the political sky, so that all states, not just former colonial powers, define a new life and actively act in the interests of their peoples.

Viktor Mikhin, corresponding member of RANS, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.


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