Joe Biden will be seen as the last US president to sell fear to the Middle East. Peace is breaking out in the region, leaving him and the Israelis as lone voices on the Iran strike plan.
Saudi Arabia was in the news recently when its young crown prince fist-bumped Joe Biden and met with the US president, despite the latter threatening to make the former a ‘pariah’ when he first came to office over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The meeting was cordial but represented a turning point in America’s role in the region, if not the world when the Saudi Prince defended himself from Biden’s opprobrium by mentioning that the US was also guilty of human rights abuses in Iraq.
The conclusion of the meeting was very small. The Saudi prince agreed in principle to increase oil production by a million barrels a day as a token to Biden but in reality, what we witnessed was a moment in history, a tipping point where America really lost its hegemony in the region and became a client state of the Saudis.
The arrival in Saudi Arabia of Biden took 18 months, largely due to Biden wanting to unravel Trump’s Abraham Accords plus also his own foolish comments, which in the end he couldn’t distance himself from, due to a gas pump crisis in the US which will almost certainly result in the democrats being hammered in the midterm elections in November of this year.
Biden is not a great diplomat nor statesman of any real calibre. Previously he was more or less forced to deliver promises that he has intentions of keeping with Israel – to hit Iran if Tehran builds nuclear weapons – while in Saudi Arabia, his duplicitous character is revealed when he takes a different tact on Iran.
The Saudis no longer believe in the US solution to ‘defending’ themselves against the Iran ‘threat’, which is to stock up on expensive US weapons – ones which, in the event, didn’t protect them from Houthi missile attacks, one of which even hit an oil refinery in march of this year. MBS is looking to build peace with Iran and to look for a diplomatic solution which could eventually one-day open trading routes between Tehran and Riyadh which would benefit Iran enormously.
Moreover, due to the West’s policy towards Ukraine, the trading bloc BRICS is not only doing better than ever in terms of narrowing down internal differences and new members wanting to join it but it may even become an alternative to the Western model that some countries are preparing to turn their backs on. It is little reported that Saudi Arabia and Iran have both applied to become members of BRICS. If this were to happen, then they would automatically become trading partners which would immediately ease tensions between them as, part of joining the trade bloc, would involve lifting their own trade barriers to one another from day one.
Indeed, the real event of Biden’s trip was not his own meetings in Israel or Saudi Arabia. It was a minor detail in the wings, which, for regional analysts, was big news. CNN’s Nic Robertson spoke with Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud and what he told the reporter was astonishing. Briefly, he said quite candidly that the Saudis are looking for a diplomatic solution to remove the Iranian threat and were hoping that the Iranians “would reply in kind”.
The Saudi foreign minister even hinted that he didn’t agree with Biden’s promises to strike Iran if it were to acquire nuclear weapons signalling that this previous mindset of ‘how to hit Iran’ has been dismissed by the Saudis who have woken up to an old ruse by America which costs them dearly in the long run and only stokes tensions. The Saudis have moved on, and Biden’s narrative is seen for what it is: empty words from a script written by the Israelis.
The interview was a real bombshell when the foreign minister was lulled into a trap by the CNN hack who wanted to get Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud to comment on a military strategy against Iran. But he didn’t fall for it. In fact, he turned the point around and talked about offering Iran “incentives” to come to the negotiating table, which, in a nutshell, would mean allowing Iran to sell its wares to the entire GCC region.
Iran has an impressive broad base of goods to offer GCC countries as their manufacturing base is impressive. On energy also, they are advanced and perhaps working hand in hand with KSA on nuclear energy for the entire region could be beneficial to all. It’s a win-win for both Iran and its erstwhile enemies whilst also sending a very clear message to warmongers who have milked the system for decades – the US and UK – that the game is up.
Similarly, the minister refused to talk about China as an adversary, which just nails the point home that the days of US leadership and even token hegemony are over for the Americans in the region.
Biden’s visit will be seen as a watershed moment where he visited the region as a diplomat with empty gestures, one of whom came back home with nothing under his arm. Historians may mark the day when Obama threatened Syria with the red line statement and then retracted its threat as America’s retreat from the Middle East. But in reality, it’s the fist bump moment of Biden which signals that the old relationship between America and KSA where the former provides security in exchange for oil are well over.
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