President Joe Biden on his first presidential trip to the Middle East which sought to reset America’s position in the region, fell woefully short. On issues ranging from energy prices, human rights and Israel’s standing in the region, he returned to Washington empty handed. His focus became stop Tehran, contain Moscow and block Beijing’s economic growth in the region.
“We will not walk away and leave a vacuum to be filled by China, Russia or Iran,” Mr. Biden said July 16, addressing Arab leaders at a Gulf Council Summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
“And we’ll seek to build on this moment with active, principled American leadership,” he said.
While energy issues and Mr. Biden’s emphasis on big power competition with Russia and China was upfront, analysts noted the trip further bolstered regional military and intelligence alliances with Israel against Iran and sought a new alliance in the Arab world similar to NATO.
“A lot of this trip is about arms sales,” said Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. “It’s about making sure that there’s a hegemonic grouping in the Middle East under U.S. global domination … led by Israel and Saudi Arabia,” she added.
The Biden trip occurred at a time of global upset and conflicts raging in Europe and other world regions. For Sam Husseini, senior analyst at the Institute for Public Accuracy, the Biden trip sowed the seeds of future wars similar to the playbook of America’s expansion of NATO in Europe.
“What they’re doing now with Saudi Arabia, and Israel, is planting the seeds for a future war in the Middle East,” said Mr. Husseini. Mr. Biden visited the region July 13-16.
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam has consistently warned successive U.S. presidential administrations concerning the fate and fall of America if she persists in errant foreign policy, warmongering and global meddling.
Minister Farrakhan is on record cautioning the Muslim World about its unholy alliance with America. The Minister condemned the meddling of America sowing division between Muslims in the Middle East.
“The heavy clouds of war are gathering over the Muslim world,” said Minister Farrakhan in early May remarks, addressing the Ramadan Prayer Line, an annual conference call held during the Muslim monthlong fast of Ramadan. He explained conflict in the region is rooted in hostility and divisions between Sunni and Shiite brothers aggravated by outside “poison mischief makers” among them creating mischief that will cause Muslims to shed each other’s blood.
America sells the latest bombers and instruments of warfare to Arab Sunni Muslims with the aim of killing their Shiite Muslim foes based in Iran. Relations between America and Iran has long been antagonist and on the verge of war.
The predominate Sunni Gulf nations led primarily by Saudi Arabia are allies of America and political rivals of Iran for power and influence over the region.
America is the top exporter of arms worldwide, followed by Russia, France, China, and Germany, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The group tracks major arms transfers globally in four-year increments. Saudi Arabia is America’s top customer for global arms transfers and the Middle East accounts for 43 percent of U.S. arms transfers.
Minister Farrakhan said, quoting his teacher the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad: “America is coming out of the Middle East” and when she leaves, there will be “plenty” of bloodshed.
In Israel, Mr. Biden signed a joint declaration with Israel’s interim Prime Minster Yair Lapid, which expressly aimed to block the Islamic Republic of Iran from obtaining nuclear arms. The nonbinding agreement was part of a larger “Jerusalem Declaration.”
“We will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon,” Mr. Biden told journalists July 14 following the signing. America and Israel have engaged a history of saber rattling against Iran, including veiled statements about pre-emptive war. Iran denies pursuing nuclear arms and maintain its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes.
Answering a question July 13, Mr. Biden told local Israeli TV he would use military force on Iran as a “last resort.” Observers say the remarks plays to the ears of the Zionist state, which has been pushing world powers for a “credible military threat” against Iran. White House officials briefing the press said this year the Biden administration provided Israel with $4.8 billion “for its security,” the highest-ever total in a single year. While America increases military aid to Israel, minimal attention was paid to the plight of Palestinians.
In an hours-long visit to the West Bank on July 15, Mr. Biden reiterated his support for a two-state solution and pledged $300 million in aid to the Palestinians. But stated “the ground is not ripe” for returning to direct negotiations, in a joint press conference with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Mixed feelings and controversy defined the trip criticized for not focusing on human rights abuses in Israel and Saudi Arabia, where Mr. Biden attended a Gulf Cooperation Council summit.
In the West Bank, Palestinians voiced outright rejection of the U.S. president coming to the area, reported PressTV.ir, the Iranian news agency. Demonstrators chanted anti-U.S. slogans and denounced America’s blatant bias toward the Israeli occupier regime. Billboards reading “this is Apartheid” were also erected at entrances to the city to express outrage.
Maher Mezher, a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), said Biden’s visit aims to strengthen the U.S. grip on the region, warning against false promises by Washington.
Separately, Bassem Na’aim, a member of the Hamas resistance movement, said at a seminar in Gaza City that Biden came to the region laden with “failure” and has no solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He called for a strategic dialogue at the level of Arab and Islamic parties, countries and entities.
Others expressed disappointment Mr. Biden’s policies are like his predecessor Donald Trump, which worsened life for Palestinians.
“We were hopeful as Palestinians and many others around the world that Biden … would reverse Trump’s destructive policies,” said Mazin Qumsiyeh, professor and researcher at Bethlehem University in a skype interview with The Final Call.
Mr. Trump’s decisions included an illegal recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocating the American embassy there from Tel Aviv and the closing of the U.S. Consulate in East Jerusalem. The consulate served as a de facto embassy for Palestinians.
Mr. Qumsiyeh said there was hope Mr. Biden would fulfill other promises like returning to the nuclear joint agreement with Iran.
“Here we are a year and a half, two years later, and there’s hardly any move. On the contrary, sanctions on Iran are increasing,” said Mr. Qumsiyeh.
In a collective letter, U.S.-based organizations also denounced Mr. Biden’s trip.
“These trips serve to normalize relations with a military occupation that recently murdered Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and the government of Saudi Arabia that ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” the letter read in part.
Ms. Abu Akleh was wearing a clearly visible press vest while reporting on an Israeli army raid in the occupied West Bank when she was fatally shot allegedly by Israeli Defense Forces in mid-May. Requests for Mr. Biden to meet with the slain journalist’s family while in Palestine went denied. To add insult to injury, only a telephone offer from U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was given to the family to travel to Washington.
In Saudi Arabia’s case, critics argue that embracing the Kingdom and meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman waxes against Mr. Biden’s campaign promises to designate Saudi Arabia a “pariah” state over the 2018 murder of Mr. Khashoggi. The Washington Post journalist was brutally mutilated and disappeared inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Mr. Biden accused the crown prince of personally ordering the death.
Observers say a U-turn on Saudi Arabia spotlights U.S. hypocrisy. Other observers agreed its duplicitous, but not surprising, reasoning that Washington and Riyadh had a strategic relationship since the earlier part of the last century.
“Saudi Arabia is a key U.S. outpost in the region,” said Mouin Rabbani, co-editor of Jadaliyya, an electronic news magazine of the Arab Studies Institute.
A Saudi journalist murdered inside a Saudi embassy is not a total game changer for Washington. “These kinds of things tend not to get in the way of U.S. foreign policy,” said Mr. Rabbani.
So long as America didn’t really need anything from Saudi Arabia, it could maintain the stance of not shaking hands with Prince bin Salman. But the minute America needed something tangible from Riyadh, Washington quickly changed its tune.
“I suppose to a lot of people this would be characterized as hypocrisy,” said Mr. Rabbani. “To me, it seems part and parcel of the way US foreign policy, and particularly US foreign policy in the Middle East has been conducted for decades,” he reasoned.
David Yaghoubian, history professor at California State, San Bernadino said, not responding to the critical rights issues that emerged over the last few years during the visit “legitimates and rewards” the Saudi Crown Prince for his policies, as well as apartheid Israel for theirs.
“This trip to Israel and then to Jeddah to speak before the GCC+3 meeting, does not advance any of those goals for the United States in terms of promoting human rights,” Mr. Yaghoubian told The Final Call.
While Mr. Biden jetted to the Middle East, he is hamstrung by a dismally low job approval rating, 40-year high inflation, skyrocketing food and fuel prices, and a flood of domestic bloodshed and mass killings. In Saudi Arabia was the GCC+3 Summit consisting of the Gulf Cooperation Council nations plus Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan.
Observers called the Saudi visit a “hat in hand” beg on Gulf countries to boost oil production in a bid to mitigate U.S. gas prices at the pump. With desperate problems at home the trip showed on the world stage, there is no permanent friends or enemies, only permanent interests.
“Our worries, people in developing countries, is basically that the U.S. has only one card left and it’s partly the military card,” said Mr. Qumsiyeh.
“That’s why they’ve dumped $7 billion on armaments for the Ukraine … propped the Saudi regime genocidal attack on Yemen … the war on Syria … they’re using this last card,” he said.