Biden’s Saudi Disaster

Biden’s Saudi Disaster


There has rarely been so substantial, and detrimental, a turnaround in foreign policy equal to that in U.S.-Saudi relations over the past several years.

During Trump’s tenure, Washington and Riyadh were  close to an unprecedented degree.  It was part of a larger success in the Middle East, headlined by his Administration’s peace deals with Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. The Saudi’s were a major asset in countering Iran’s malign influence in the region.

That happy turn of events swiftly deteriorated under Joe Biden.

The disastrous result has been the alienation of a key Middle Eastern ally. The Saudi’s have moved substantially closer to China. The two nations agreed to 35 deals valued at $29.6 billion. Even more worrisome, Riyadh and Beijing inked a “comprehensive strategic partnership agreement.”

Many members of the Senate  have decried the current White Houses’ missteps in the region, noting that:

“President Biden entered office with a Middle East united against the Iranian threat and on the heels of the Abraham Accords, an unprecedented boon to Middle East peace. Under these agreements, struck in 2020, four Arab states – the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan – agreed to recognize the State of Israel and opened the door to further cooperation. The Biden administration quickly undid that progress. From the start, he put politics ahead of policy in his zeal to restart the failed Iran nuclear deal, simply to make good on a campaign promise. In courting Tehran, the administration removed the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen from the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations and ended U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s and the UAE’s war against the group. The administration delayed an arms deal with Saudi Arabia and the UAE and withdrew air defense systems, caving to progressive demands to end the war while our allies faced Houthi attacks against civilian infrastructure. Buoyed by the administration’s actions, the Houthis launched renewed offensives in Yemen and increasingly threatened our partners. When Iran-supported militia groups targeted Americans in Iraq and Syria with rockets and drones last summer, the administration barely reacted. In a dogged effort to keep the nuclear deal alive, the Biden administration has not conducted a strike against Iranian proxies since October 2021, and regional deterrence is sorely lacking. The Israelis, to whom Iran poses an existential threat, have deeply and publicly disagreed with the administration’s approach. President Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan last August confirmed fears that he was willing to abandon our allies…”

The inexplicable tilt towards Iran by the Biden Administration (similar to that by the Obama White House) is a major factor. The Saudis depended on the U.S. as a bulwark against Tehran’s expansionist threat. Despite Iran’s ongoing nuclear program (now believed to be mere months away from the ability to construct atomic weapons,) its support for violence throughout the region, its provision of weapons to Putin for use in the invasion of Ukraine and its purchase of Russian advanced fighter aircraft, the current White House continues its softness on the nation.

New Republic review called Biden’s 2022 Middle Eastern trip “Nothing short of a disaster.”

Author Joel Pollack notes that “President Trump signed the Abraham Accords, creating a network of peace deals between Israel and many Arab and Muslim states. Biden has punished many of the key players: raising tariffs on the United Arab Emirates (UAE); withholding arms sales to the UAE and Saudi Arabia; de-listing the anti-Saudi, pro-Iran Houthi militia as a terror group; publishing an intelligence report naming the Saudi Crown Prince as a key player in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi; and appointing the same pro-Iran diplomats who crafted the disastrous Iran nuclear deal. All Biden had to do was continue where Trump had left off, rewarding Arab and Muslim countries that made peace, and maintaining pressure on Iran. But Biden’s foreign policy team, apparently blinded by the conviction that everything Trump did must necessarily be wrong, continues to repeat the mistakes of the Obama administration, which appeased Iran and allowed it to cause regional chaos.”

Frank Vernuccio serves as editor-in-chief of the New York Analysis of Policy and Government

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