Biden to Arab leaders: US won't 'let go' of Middle East
US President Joe Biden discusses volatile oil prices at a summit with Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia, the final stop on his Middle East tour reportedly designed to bolster US positioning in the region.
On Saturday, US President Joe Biden told Arab leaders that the US would remain fully engaged in the Middle East and would not cede influence to other world powers.
Final stop on Biden's Middle East tour
During a summit in Jeddah, Biden said, “We will not walk away and leave a vacuum to be filled by China, Russia or Iran.”
The US President also warned that Washington will not allow any country to create a threat to freedom of navigation in the Middle East.
"Second, the United States will not allow — will not allow foreign or regional powers to jeopardize the freedom of navigation through the Middle East’s waterways, including the Strait of Hormuz and the Bab al-Mandab," Biden said at a press conference in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Besides the threat, he did express some optimism about being in the Middle East, one of the most sabotaged regions by the US in the world to which he admitted implicitly.
“Today, I am proud to be able to say that the eras of land wars in the region, wars that involved huge numbers of American forces, is not underway,” he said.
“The future will be won by the countries that unleash the full potential of their populations,” he added.
The summit, the final stop on Biden's Middle East tour, brings together the Gulf Cooperation Council's six members, which include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan's leaders were also in attendance.
Biden planned to use it to discuss volatile oil prices and outline Washington's role in the region.
Arab leader’s statements
Qatar's Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, stated at the summit that achieving stability in the Gulf region is critical not only for Qatar but also for the international community.
“We reaffirm our position to spare the Gulf and the Middle East the danger of a nuclear armament while recognizing the right of the countries in the region to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes in accordance with international law,” he added.
“One of the most important sources of instability will linger unless Israel stops its violation of international law reflected in the building of settlements and changing Jerusalem’s character and continuing to impose siege on Gaza,” he said.
“It is inappropriate for Arabs to keep making proposals while Israel’s role is confined to rejecting them and increasing its intransigence,” he concluded.
On his part, King Abdullah II of Jordan said his country hosts more than one million Syrian refugees, adding that the international community must address this issue.
The Jordanian King emphasized the significance of reaching a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian issue based on the "two-state solution".
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi stated that "the time has come to put an end to wars in the region, which allowed external forces to meddle in its affairs."
In his remarks at the summit, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain in Jeddah said foreign interference remains one of the biggest challenges that the region is facing, calling for a peaceful solution to the Palestinian cause.
Biden, MBS meeting
On Friday, Biden met with Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), the de facto ruler who, according to US intelligence agencies, ordered the operation that murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
Biden claimed after a fist bump with Prince Mohammed that he brought up the Khashoggi case and warned against future attacks on dissidents.
It is worth noting that MBS presided over the summit's opening session on Saturday, which King Salman did not attend.
He has denied any involvement in Khashoggi's death, which occurred in the Kingdom's Istanbul Consulate and whose remains have never been found.
Furthermore, Biden told the assembled Arab leaders, on Saturday that "the future will be won by countries that unleash the full potential of their populations... where citizens can question and criticize leaders without fear of retaliation."
Biden, Al-Kadhimi, and the rise of ISIS in Iraq
US President Joe Biden met with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi on Saturday, ahead of Saudi Arabia's Jeddah Summit.
According to a joint statement, Biden and Al-Kadhimi agreed to improve Iraq's security and military institutions, as well as the necessity of battling corruption and helping the Iraqi economy.
Biden also underlined the importance of a "stable and undivided Iraq, including the Kurdistan region," and stated that a "strong Iraq" is required to ensure regional stability.
The US President and Al-Kadhimi agreed to improve security coordination to avoid the rise of ISIS, the US' own creation, in Iraq.
The two leaders stressed the importance of forming a new Iraqi government that meets the expectations of the Iraqi people during the meeting, which also addressed Iraq's political situation, which is currently hampered by political disagreements among parties preventing the parliament from electing a president and forming a government.