Biden’s Middle East Tour
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Political Observation - Biden’s Middle East Tour
President Biden arrived in Jeddah from “Israel on Friday 15 July. A statement by the White House quoted Biden as saying he would be the first US President to fly from "Israel" to Jeddah in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, describing Saudi’s decision to open her airspace to all civilian aircrafts as historic, especially those from and to "Israel".
The visit was preceded by the communiqué of the Saudi Civil Aviation Authority stipulating opening the kingdom’s airspace for all air carriers that meet the requirements of the authority for overflying. Biden described the decision of Saudi to open her airspace by saying “This is the first tangible step in the path of what I hope will eventually be a broader normalization of relations" adding, “Saudi Arabia’s decision can help build momentum toward Israel’s further integration into the region, including with Saudi Arabia.” Meanwhile, "Israeli" prime minister, Yair Lapid, said on Twitter "Today is a historic day. After intense behind the scenes diplomacy with Saudi Arabia and the United States, Saudi airspace will now be open to Israeli airlines."
It is worth mentioning in this context that US presidents’ foreign trips are conventionally linked to national security; and as it is known, the security of "Israel", oil, and shipping routes through which the supply chains in the Middle East pass, are at the heart of the US interests and national security; hence, the aims of the visit and Biden’s statement were not hidden in this regard.
As for the security of "Israel", the visit was preceded by several arrangements centred around its integration into the region in the security and military aspect under the cover of the Iranian threat, and reproducing the "Israeli" role in facing the forthcoming challenges pertinent to China and Russia, a role "Israel" played during the Cold War, i.e., reactivating the "Israeli" geopolitical position as an advanced military base allowing the US to protect her interests in the Middle East, to hedge the consequences of a proxy military confrontation strategy with Russia, and perhaps with China later, with the aim of weakening and blackmailing them, containing their aspirations, tightening the grip over Europe through her interests and energy security which the US is endeavouring to secure its supply from the Middle East and reduce Europe’s dependence on Russia’s energy; this could in turn accelerate the signing of the Iranian nuclear deal, and resetting the Libyan security situation, the omens of which are reflected in forming the board of directors of the National Oil Corporation (NOC) under the chairmanship of Ferhat bin Qadara, and in reopening all the oilfields and seaports, and lifting the sanctions imposed on Venezuela to increase oil production and curb price increases in the US to win the American electorate over in the forthcoming midterm elections.
In this sense, the eagerness of American presidents to visit Saudi is not a tribute to its rulers as much as it is a message to rival countries not to come close to the Gulf, and a message of deterrence and warning to the people of the region not to undermine the interests of the United States regarding the security of the Gulf and "Israel". The visit was also designed to reassure the Europeans regarding their energy concerns, to which bin Salman responded by increasing oil production to shore up America’s efforts in maintaining the alliance against Russia, especially as the rift over European sanctions on Russia is still raging between EU countries; Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday 15 July that the EU “shot itself in the lungs” with ill-considered economic sanctions on Russia, which, unless rolled back, risk destroying the European economy. On the other hand, Putin is attempting through his meeting with Erdogan and Ebrahim Raisi to win Turkey and Iran over through the gateway of their interests in Syria, and to impede America’s efforts to disengage Bashar Assad and attract him through the Arab states and to restructure the National Coalition and the Syrian Negotiations Commission whose new president and some opposition forces hinted at the possibility of jumping on the "peace" bandwagon, especially since the Turkish and Iranian presidents are attempting to achieve personal gains in the midst of the US-Russian conflict such as the Iranian Oil Minister’s flirtation with America recently at the Oil and Gas Exhibition and Conference in Azerbaijan and his saying that Tehran “would triple the amount of its oil in the global markets,” while Erdogan is trying to zero his problems with Arab countries, reinforce his military presence in Syria and weaken the Syrian Democratic Forces at a time when Russia facilitated the understandings of Bashar Assad and the Kurdish forces to stand up to the threat posed by the Turkish regime.
As for the issue of Palestine, the PA leaders and Arab chieftains are still shamelessly selling illusions to the people of the region. All the statements of Biden and Abbas that addressed the issue of Palestine confirmed that the two-state solution was just a theme under the guise of which the regional solution is being imposed, namely integrating "Israel" into the region, and deferring the final formula of the solution, and making it dependent on a change in the "Israeli" rightwing public opinion, and its acceptance of a Palestinian authority drawn on paper to manage the population with Jordan while "Israel" retains the land.
This is what is corroborated by Mahmoud Abbas's statement that the two-state solution may not be obtainable in the future. It is also corroborated by Biden's remarks that the two-state solution “can seem so far away”; this is because what is happening on the ground such as the continued occupation, the increase in Jewish settlements, the marginalisation of the issue in favour of a regional solution, and the restructuring taking place on the Jordanian side to absorb refugees through the outputs of the Royal Committee to Modernise the Political System, including coining the term “comprehensive national identity” does not fit into the two-state solution; in other words, it does not occasion a viable and geographically connected Palestinian state, as much as it paves the way for dissolving the issue in a joint Jordanian-Palestinian formula.
By this token, the aims of Biden’s visit to the region are summed up in tackling the repercussions of his international strategy pertinent to Russia and China, the most important of which is securing oil resources to cover the shortage of Russian energy; the Netherlands has started raising the production of coal power, Austria reopened a coal-fired power station and France has equipped a coal power plant in anticipation of the shortage. And in the context of the energy crisis, the BBC quoted Congressperson Brad Sherman as saying that “Saudi Arabia increasing its supply of oil to the market would save lives,” adding that "the price of oil means people die in poor countries. It raises the price of food and fertiliser, and it means people die by the hundreds of thousands, not just from starvation but also from the disease the malnourished tend to acquire." The visit also aims to resume what Donald Trump started regarding the regional solution and the Arab-“Israeli” alliance under the pretext of the Iranian threat. Biden said, “our intelligence and military experts warned that the region was dangerously pressurized…. We have to counter Russia’s aggression, put ourselves in the best possible position to outcompete China, and work for greater stability in a consequential region of the world.”
This visit, during which he met with the countries of the alliance and joint defence to be established with the participation of Jordan, Egypt, Iraq and the Gulf states, was preceded by a meeting of representatives of the commanders of the "Israeli", Egyptian, Jordanian, Saudi and Qatari armed forces in Sharm el-Sheikh, to discuss the strategy to combating the common threats to national security under US sponsorship, and by the statement of "Israeli" defence minister Benny Gantz pertinent to the preparations for establishing the Middle East Air Defense Alliance (MEAD), under the auspices of Washington.
Other aims of the visit include supporting Iraqi prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in downsizing Iran’s surrogates in Iraq, encouraging king Abdullah to continue restructuring the regime in line with the endeavour to liquidate the file of the refugees, and exhorting bin Salman to take steps towards normalisation and alliance with "Israel". Perhaps Biden's announcement today of his intention to withdraw the US peacekeeping forces from the islands of Tiran and Sanafir would help opening a direct negotiation channel between Saudi Arabia and "Israel". Furthermore, the aim of the visit is to exhort bin Salman to continue uprooting Islam from the lands of al Haramayn, control his comportment, orchestrate his relations with the countries of the region and overseas, and assign to him the task of overseeing the “Syrian opposition”, settling the Yemeni file, in parallel with the progress in the Iranian nuclear file, and bringing Iran back to her functional square. In this context, Biden said prior to his visit in an article carrying warning messages to the rulers of the region, “we reversed the blank-check policy we inherited”, and that during his visit (to Saudi), his aim “will be to strengthen a strategic partnership going forward that’s based on mutual interests and responsibilities, while also holding true to fundamental American values.” He also showed remarkable support for "Israeli" prime minister Lapid since he deemed him more pragmatic and secular, portraying him as a dove of peace, in addition to the I2U2 initiative that expresses the Greater Middle East, and luring Jewish businessmen with the expected economic prospects as part of attempts to encourage "Israeli" public opinion to show the necessary flexibility regarding the "peace process”.
There is no doubt all of this would redirect the American policy in the region, regulate it according to America’s international priorities in the midst of the tussle with Russia and China, tighten the grip on Europe and serve the Biden administration in tackling inflation and the anticipated economic downturn, in light of the approaching date of the midterm elections.
As for the people of the region, they will not be able to change the policy of the United States or influence it except by threatening the American interests, since America and the West will not change their colonialist policy unless the price and the cost are too high for them. This will only be achieved by uprooting the functional regimes and the collaborating rulers who have sold the region to its enemies in exchange for their continuance in power.
17 Thil Hijjah 1443h hizbuttahrir.org
16 July 2022