Biden and his top advisers say that he wants to restore stability to a region that underwent significant changes during the tenure of his predecessor, who boasted of historic, flashy new deals with America’s oldest allies there – specifically between Israel and four predominantly Arab countries that had previously refused to recognise the Jewish state – while also imposing an unprecedented, unflinching “maximum pressure” campaign on the gravest adversary in the region, Iran. Biden and his top advisers say that they want.
But the questions that now face Biden include whether or not he can orchestrate breakthroughs over contested territory in and around Israel, whether or not he can maintain American pressure on Saudi Arabia’s questionable human rights record while securing help from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who U.S. intelligence believes was complicit in the grisly killing of U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi, and whether or not he can work to contain the growing threat from Tehran. Whether or not these questions are realistic remains
Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, told reporters on Tuesday that “we are trying to do multiple things all at once” in reference to the apparent reversal made by Vice President Joe Biden regarding the condemnation of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.
However, many of the region’s major players are increasingly cooperating with one another in accordance with the so-called Abraham Accords, which the Trump administration helped to broker.
ALSO READ: Rise in Inflation Rate in US – Latest News Update
Since the founding of Israel, virtually every Arab state has steadfastly refused to acknowledge the Jewish state’s presence in the world. But the deal is breaking that embargo, and as a result, it is opening up new avenues for cooperation and heralding a dramatic reordering of the Middle East,” Michael Singh, a former Middle East adviser to George W. Bush’s National Security Council, wrote in Foreign Affairs. “The deal is smashing that embargo and, in doing so, opening up new avenues for cooperation and heralding a dramatic reordering of the Middle East.”
And with regard to the question of whether or not his trip will have an effect on global gas prices – which the White House claims have skyrocketed as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine – a number of analysts are pessimistic about any impending changes while noting that Biden appears to have longer-term intentions.
In a call with reporters on Friday, Jonathan Panikoff, director of the Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative at the Atlantic Council, said that “the trip is not going to result in a massive decrease in gas prices,” despite the fact that prices are already beginning to go down. “The trip is not going to result in a massive decrease in gas prices,” he added.
Panikoff notes that as of the month of June, Saudi Arabia’s production capacity was already very close to reaching its maximum of 10.5 million barrels per day. This represents an increase of 60,000 barrels from the previous month. It keeps some margins in order to increase production even further, although it is likely that this will not have much of an effect on the markets in either Europe or the United States.
According to him, the most important potential breakthrough is the one-of-a-kind role that Riyadh could play in larger international problems that are affecting other parts of the United States.
Panikoff believes that the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Russia will be the most significant challenge in the future. What you’re going to hear them say is something along the lines of, “We want to open a new channel and really be the critical conduit to the Russians, because we’re one of the few that can play that role.”
ALSO READ: Reproductive Right Task Force is launched – Latest News Update
According to Panikoff, Saudi Arabia could play a role in the recovery of global oil markets as well as – critically – the global food crisis that has resulted from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and will accelerate going into the coming winter. Panikoff points to burgeoning crises that are already present in influential countries such as Egypt and other Saudi neighbors as evidence.
The lethal danger posed by Iran is perhaps the topic that has brought the Vice President and his hosts together the most this week. Tehran has a notable history of using summits like the ones Biden will hold to advance its own goals for the region, most notably undermining Israel, and the White House has so far failed to renegotiate the nuclear deal from which the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew (while still seeking to exploit some of the deal’s mechanisms). In addition, the White House has attempted to exploit some of the deal’s mechanisms.
“Iran is the ultimate arbiter of Gulf (and thus global) energy security,” wrote Michael Eisenstadt, director of the Military & Security Studies Program at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, in an analysis note that was published this week. “Providing Tehran with a much-needed win after its numerous recent setbacks in countering Israel’s humiliating and damaging covert campaign,” he added. “Iran is the ultimate arbiter of global energy security.”
According to what he wrote, “Iran will likely view the GCC+3 summit as both a provocation on its doorstep and a tempting opportunity to scuttle a possible U.S.-Gulf reset.” This statement was made in reference to the upcoming summit. “An attack during the summit could hold several benefits for Tehran, including humiliating U.S. officials and their Saudi hosts; demonstrating that Washington is incapable of protecting its friends even while the president is visiting; and ultimately undermining efforts to create a new regional security architecture.”
Iran is known to have orchestrated a missile strike on Riyadh using its proxy militia group the Houthis in Yemen during Trump’s tour through the region in May 2017, which was his first trip outside the country. This attack took place mere hours before Trump’s arrival. This incident was the initial impetus for Trump to propose assassinating influential Iranian Quds Force leader General Qassem Soleimani. Three years later, the United States carried out Trump’s proposed action.
“Washington should quietly remind Tehran that its last attempt to disrupt a U.S.-GCC summit set in motion a series of events that ultimately did not end well for the Islamic Republic, and had long-term consequences from which it still has not recovered,” offers Eisenstadt. “Washington should quietly remind Tehran that its last attempt to disrupt a U.S.-GCC summit set in motion a series of events that ultimately did not well for the Islamic Republic.”
Despite the fact that there is a significant opportunity to focus on potential investments in the region over a longer period of time, a number of other analysts believe that Vice President Biden’s meetings will, in fact, centre on concerns regarding national security and the Iranian threat.
“I think that’s too bad, and here’s why: it plays into a very established comfort zone of the United States’ engagement in the Middle East,” said Young, the founding director of the Program on Economics and Energy at the Middle East Institute, during a roundtable discussion on Monday. Young was speaking about the upcoming security summit. The security control room is located in our wheelhouse. What we are lacking is an understanding of what the region is capable of doing with its own economic resources and interests, which could have a much greater impact and power for both our global security and our own economic requirements.
She referred to the upcoming meetings as “a counter-Iran war council, heavily influenced by Israeli policy.” She said that these meetings will speed up arms races in the region, which could have potentially disastrous consequences, including for the domestic audience in the United States.
She continues by saying that “the risk there is that if we increasingly mount toward a confrontation stance with Iran,” our current energy problems will seem insignificant in comparison to “what could come.”