Joe Biden is visiting the Middle East for the first time as President of the United States. He is expected to land in Saudi Arabia by this evening and meet with the country’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Mr. Biden will meet both the prince and his father, King Salman. Biden’s visit to Saudi is controversial among many human rights activists and leaders around the world.
Biden’s Middle East visit will further expand to include meeting Egyptian, Iraqi, and Jordanian leaders as well. His vision of greater West Asian integration is his main goal. Before he visits Saudi Arabia, he will be meeting Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem on Friday morning. It will be the highest-level meeting between the US and the Palestinians since the Palestinians severed ties over the Trump administration’s decision to shut down the PLO’s Washington office, which is the main representative body of the Palestinians, in 2018.
He had promised to declare Saudi Arabia a “pariah” following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents in 2018, two years prior. Despite the prince’s denials, US intelligence believed that he had given his approval. As a presidential candidate, his main manifesto was to punish Saudi Arabia for its grim human rights record. Biden even went on to contrast himself with former American President Trump for his soft embracement of Saudi Arabia.
The USA praised Saudi Arabia’s decision late on Thursday that it would permit commercial flights from Israel to use its airspace.
The action opens up the kingdom’s airspace to all airlines that satisfy its overflight requirements and creates space for more flights to and from Israel. This “paves the way for a more connected, stable, and secure Middle East region,” according to US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. As the first US president to travel directly from Tel Aviv to Riyadh after decades of boycotting Israel in support of the Palestinians, Mr. Biden’s flight is considered a minor but crucial indicator of Riyadh’s growing acceptance of Israel.
What is his purpose for visiting?
The leaders will talk about the availability of energy, human rights, and security collaboration. The greatest oil producer in the world, Saudi Arabia, is attempting to mend fences after a surge in oil costs brought on by Russia’s conflict in Ukraine.
The significance of any interaction with MBS has been dismissed by Mr. Biden, who has instead focused on the fact that he will be attending an Arab regional conference in Jeddah where the crown prince will be present.
A significant portion of the strategy involves establishing deeper Arab-Israeli security ties while also normalizing Israel’s relations with Saudi Arabia. To counter the threat of missiles coming from Iran and its allies, it is planned to coordinate air defense systems. The Iranian nuclear program is moving forward quickly; US efforts to restore the Iran nuclear accord have failed, and regional missile assaults by Iran’s Houthi supporters in Yemen have increased. As he began his visit, Mr. Biden emphasized the significance of Israel “fully integrating.” The White House remained silent on the issue when asked about whether Mr. Biden would raise the issue of the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. On being questioned about his visit to Saudi, he justified his choice. Mr. Biden told reporters earlier this week in Jerusalem that anyone who doesn’t understand it in Saudi Arabia or elsewhere “hasn’t been around me for a while.”
The purpose of the visit was described as a “military alliance against Iran” by the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft’s left-leaning Paul Pillar. According to him, “the whole arrangement is built on hostility toward Iran, certainly from the Israeli point of view, but also the Gulf Arab point of view.”
Over the past year, there has been warming, and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine forced the US president to officially join it. The primary factor was an increase in fuel prices. To help lower prices, the US pleaded with the Saudis to increase oil production. At first, Riyadh rejected those requests. However, Opec Plus, the group of oil producers in which Saudi Arabia has the de facto leadership, agreed to a slight increase in output just days before the president’s trip was revealed.
According to Ben Cahill, an expert on energy security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the focus is more on long-term management of the energy markets in these unsettling times (CSIS).
How Saudi will benefit from this visit is still a question crossing everyone’s mind. In these anxious times, the emphasis is increasingly on long-term management of the energy markets, according to Ben Cahill, a specialist on energy security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). In addition, the Saudis also want clarity on Biden’s intention.
Why is his visit controversial?
In the United States, the news about Biden’s meeting with the Saudi prince has so far proved to be problematic and controversial around the country. Some members of the US president’s own Democratic Party are furious about the gathering and want him to use it as an opportunity to criticize Saudi Arabia for its human rights record.
Senior House Democrat Adam Schiff stated last week that if he had been in Joe Biden’s place, he would not have traveled to the nation or met Prince Mohammed.
The heads of six House committees also urged the president to keep restricting offensive support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen in a joint letter. While Saudi Arabians have moderated their position on the Yemen war and agreed to UN-brokered negotiations with the Houthi rebels,
The activist says US values and strategic interests have typically been traded off in America’s decades-long relations with Saudi Arabia. However, as he bends to the political realities that have shaped the partnership, President Biden runs the risk of losing credibility with his values-based approach to foreign policy.