Joe Biden’s Pandering To Saudi Arabia Proves That US Middle East Power Wanes
Whilst it is clear that the former US President is continuing to get along well with the Saudis, the current President is now doing all that he can to repair what has been broken.
US President Joe Biden’s decision to grant Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince immunity from prosecution for involvement in the murder of Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, reflects Washington’s general ineffectiveness regionally.
The US Biden administration started off strong in their apparent rejection of Riyadh’s criminal behavior. During Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, he vowed repeatedly to isolate Saudi Arabia as a “pariah state” and pledged to prosecute those involved in the butchering of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. According to a US intelligence report, Mohammed Bin Salman, the Saudi Crown Prince, was directly involved in the plotting of the murder of Khashoggi, which took place inside the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, back in 2018.
In fact, Joe Biden’s first speech on the issue of his administration's foreign policy direction in the Arabian Peninsula, evolved around canceling “offensive” arms sales to Saudi Arabia and working to expedite a peaceful conclusion to the conflict in Yemen. This stance on a traditional ally of the US was in sharp contrast to the open-arms approach of Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, whose first foreign visit was to Saudi Arabia.
Recent revelations on the level of foreign spending inside Trump hotel facilities, by Saudi officials, have put even bigger question marks on the nature of the former Republican President’s foreign relation decisions. It was previously thought that between 2017 to 2020, around 3.75 million US dollars were spent by foreign politicians at the Trump hotel, however, documents obtained by the House Oversight Committee showed larger spending than expected within months. Luckily, due to the Democratic Party’s fanatic pursuit of any evidence that the Trump campaign may have colluded with Russia - AKA “Russia-gate” - we now have access to a treasure trove of documents that prove Donald Trump’s proximity to oil rich regimes in the Arabian Peninsula.
It is likely that Saudi de-facto leader, Mohammed Bin Salman, favors a Trump leadership in the United States, breaking from a long standing bipartisan approach to relations. This could well have something to do with Donald Trump’s proximity to Riyadh’s wealth. On November 20 reports emerged of a new business agreement between Donald Trump’s company and Saudi Arabia’s Dar Al-Arkan. The Saudi company will use the Trump brand on its 4 billion dollar project in the fellow Gulf State of Oman.
Whilst it is clear that the former US President is continuing to get along well with the Saudis, the current President is now doing all that he can to repair what has been broken. After backing Ukraine to the hilt, in a clearly un-winnable war for Kiev, the West has taken a massive financial blow. The isolation of Russia from the West has equaled a lack of energy supplies, as well as an increase in costs in the West. Joe Biden decided to visit Saudi Arabia in July, attempting to bargain with Riyadh in order to get them to pull some strings to aid the US, something that the Saudis have done historically without question. Yet, the KSA is now playing hardball with the Americans and signaling to Biden that Washington has to start offering more.
It is in this context that Biden has dropped any critical talk of Saudi Arabia, even pleading with them to delay their decision to cut oil production until after the midterm elections that just took place earlier this month. Although prominent Democrats have clearly voiced their opposition to the Saudis, the leadership are pursuing the course of pandering. Biden has re-considered selling offensive weapons to their Middle East partner, something that they have been arguably doing anyway and Biden has even dropped his stance on the Jamal Khashoggi case, granting the Saudi Crown Prince immunity.
None of this should come as any real surprise. Biden lied about being serious when it comes to ending the war in Yemen, there has been no significant changes on the ground there, in fact, it looked as if things were only going to get worse last year. As for the weapons sales, Joe Biden approved sales to Saudi Arabia, he completely backed down on his claims to make the KSA a pariah, when he visited the Kingdom, whilst groveling for an uptick in oil production. Although Joe Biden sat in on an Arab Summit meeting, vowing to remain in the Middle East, it is clear that his position is not respected there and that he isn’t taken very seriously.
All of this is not to say that Saudi Arabia or other Gulf regimes are heading toward a policy of abandoning the West, quite the opposite. The Gulf dictatorships are constantly signing multi-billion dollar deals with Western countries, opening themselves up to further Western investment and are seeking further military cooperation. What has changed is that whilst the regimes, like Saudi Arabia, continue to do business with the US, they will also look elsewhere and don’t see the West as the be-all-end-all anymore. The world is changing and evolving into a multi-popular world order system, leaving behind the one world order of the United States following the Cold War. The big difference here between the likes of Saudi Arabia and the US, is that Riyadh has accepted the new reality, whilst Washington is stuck in the past.