Biden should not broker Saudi-Israeli normalization: Report
Reports revealed that the Biden administration intends to seek a normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia by the end of the year.
Axios reports that President Biden will try to reach an agreement with Saudi Arabia and "Israel" before the election campaign "consumes" his agenda. While the likelihood of a normalization agreement between these nations is no longer as remote as it once was, it remains a long shot, and there is no compelling reason for the US to make it the centerpiece of its regional diplomatic efforts.
According to Daniel Larison of Responsible Statecraft the president may believe that a deal like this could be a feather in his crown as he pursues re-election. However, making the extra promises to Saudi Arabia, cruicial to make it happen, would be a terrible mistake.
Larison says Biden previously made the mistake of attempting to gain favor with Mohammed bin Salman last year, only to be turned down before the midterm elections. According to him, he would be foolish to make a major pre-election push for a deal with the Saudis at the US' expense when there is every reason to believe that the crown prince would abandon him once more. Mohammed bin Salman would probably prefer to wait until after the election to exact even more concessions. Even if the Saudis accepted Biden's offer this year, it would be a lousy bargain for the US.
The US should never provide Saudi Arabia with a security guarantee and should instead reduce and, preferably, eliminate its military backing for the monarchy. The US does not need another security commitment in a region where it has already lost thousands of lives and billions of dollars in pointless conflicts. A security guarantee would probably encourage the Saudi authorities to engage in more irresponsible and aggressive actions. When US clients believe they are protected by Washington, they take risks they would not take on their own. The events of the previous decade demonstrate that unconditional support for the Saudis has made Saudi Arabia more assertive and menacing to its neighbors.
We also know how the Saudis utilize the weaponry supplied by the United States. In Yemen, the Saudi military has used US-made weaponry to murder thousands of people and perpetrate several war crimes. The United States should not arm them to commit war on their neighbors. Even if the ongoing truce in Yemen holds and eventually leads to a resolution of the conflict, the United States should never again put itself in the position of backing such a war. An even tighter security alliance with Saudi Arabia leads the US down the wrong path.
Larison explains that normalization with Arab states was supposed to be the reward for Israeli compromise with the Palestinians, but the normalization agreements supported by the Trump administration were designed to ignore the Palestinians and give the Israeli government a carte blanche in the occupied territories. Contrary to what the previous administration said, the accords had little to do with peace and everything to do with approving Israeli apartheid.
An agreement with the Saudis would be another slap in the face for the Palestinians, further entrenching the repressive system that they are forced to endure. It would not only be a lousy deal for the United States, but it would also be morally repugnant.
Making a push for a Saudi normalization agreement now is also politically insensitive. Most members of Biden's party do not want to see him cozying up to both Mohammed bin Salman and a far-right Israeli coalition government led by Benjamin Netanyahu. There is a sizable Democratic bloc that wants to cut off present US funding for Saudi Arabia, so it is difficult to envision them rolling over and accepting a big increase in US support as part of a normalization agreement.
There is now far more widespread and loud support for Palestine in the Democratic Party than there was previously. According to a Gallup study conducted earlier this year, 49 percent of Democrats empathize with Palestinians. On this topic, Biden is absolutely out of step with a huge portion of his party. Making a huge display of selling out the Palestinians again for the sake of an extremist-infested administration would almost certainly draw a backlash.
Progressives are already unsatisfied with Biden's foreign policy on a variety of subjects, and anything like this would be a needless smack in the face to millions of Democratic voters and activists, whom Biden cannot afford to alienate on the eve of a presidential election. Some leftists may fairly question why they should vote for Biden when they already agree with Trump's foreign policy.
It's simple to see why the Israeli government would want the US to mediate further normalization accords on their behalf, but none of this serves US interests. The United States should not be in the business of bribing one customer for the benefit of another. If "Israel" wants regular ties with Saudi Arabia and the rest of the region, it should be the one to offer the Saudis what they want. If their government is unable or unwilling to do so, it is not Washington's job to address, according to the report.