Biden reveals the ME economic railway to counter BRI
The ambitious rail and shipping connection will require several years for implementation, but US President Joe Biden emphasized, "This is a big deal."
During the G20 Summit held in New Delhi, US President Joe Biden and other G20 leaders unveiled a significant international infrastructure endeavor aimed at connecting India, the Middle East, and Europe through an integrated network of railways, shipping routes, high-speed data cables, and energy pipelines.
The importance of this initiative lies in its role as a key component of the White House's international efforts to counter the expanding influence of Beijing and establish an alternative to China's Belt and Road Initiative, particularly in the Middle East region.
Biden disclosed that Saudi Arabia, "Israel," the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan will participate in this endeavor, which was initially reported by Axios. This initiative is being pursued in exchange for the normalization of relations with the Israeli entity and to counter Chinese and Russian proposals to take on this project.
Biden's Economic Corridor
Biden has lately intensified his global diplomatic activities as the upcoming 2024 presidential elections are closing in. His efforts come at a time when the latest polling data indicate a decline in voter support for his administration, a trend that is set to impact the Democratic Party's overall standing, according to Axios.
After Chinese leader Xi Jinping visited Saudi Arabia in December to meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and later brokered a diplomatic breakthrough between Saudi Arabia and Iran, political flourishment was in its bloom state, and so were business deals between China and the Middle East.
Multi-billion dollar deals were signed between the two countries during the visits, followed by Hong Kong’s stock exchange forecasting in June 2023 that the Middle East’s largest sovereign-wealth funds' investments in China could amount to between $1 trillion and $2 trillion by 2030.
These events, among others, made Washington increasingly anxious about the deepening ties between its traditional allies and China. This was crowned with the inclusion of both Iran and Saudi Arabia, including four other nations, in the influential BRICS alliance, which was seen as a substantial blow to America's global influence as the sole unrivaled superpower.
Could it take off?
Deteriorating relations between the United States and countries in West Asia have prompted Washington to take unprecedented steps to maintain a strong presence in the region, especially as the Biden administration escalated America's rivalry with China and placed it on a very dangerous trajectory, Axios said.
Meanwhile, tensions between the United States and Saudi Arabia have also reached a historic peak in recent years, primarily stemming from a range of issues. These include Washington's reduced support for the Saudi-led military aggression on Yemen and the nuclear deal with Iran, which was perceived as a betrayal by Washington's key ally in the region.
One of the most significant shifts in US policy involves the revival of long-stalled negotiations with Saudi Arabia regarding the latter's aspirations to develop its nuclear program.
Moreover, bilateral relations between parties participating in the massive project could pose a risk to its take-off.
The rivalry between the UAE and Saudi Arabia in recent years over influence in the region, which has repeatedly surfaced on numerous issues, most noticeably regarding the war on Yemen, remains a core threat to the project's establishment.
In the meantime, the unprecedented decline in relations between the Israeli entity and the United States is also a core element to be considered when assessing the possibility of the railway's success.
Meanwhile, despite Washington's efforts, India did not follow in the West's footsteps regarding its relations with Russia, including adopting sanctions and severing mutual trade. This has resulted in growing pressure on Biden to punish New Delhi for not joining the anti-Russia campaign.