Biden Losing the Balance of Power as Key Middle Eastern Ally Shifts Toward Iran: Report

Also See:  Blinken has ‘very productive meeting’ with Saudi crown price amid Gaza war crisis regional tour

and Saudi officials meet Abbas in Ramallah

Biden Losing the Balance of Power as Key Middle Eastern Ally Shifts Toward Iran: Report

It wasn’t too long ago that, after the success of former President Donald Trump’s Abraham Accords, we were talking about the previously unheard-of thought of normalizing Saudi-Israeli relations — something which would be a coup for both American and, quite frankly, Joe Biden.Leave it to weakness in the Middle East — particularly in regards to Hamas in the wake of last Saturday’s attack and the ongoing war between the terror group and the Jewish state — to put an end to that.

According to a report from Reuters, not only is Saudi Arabia looking to pause the normalization of relations with Israel, but they’re also looking to engage with Iran, a longtime geopolitical adversary of the Saudis.As Reuters reported Thursday, “Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman took his first phone call from Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi as Riyadh tries to prevent a broader surge in violence across the region.”Furthermore, the wire service reported that a source told them that when and if talks between the Saudis and Israelis resume, the priority would be on concessions for the Palestinian Authority.An official statement by the government said bin Salman had told Raisi that “the kingdom is exerting maximum effort to engage with all international and regional parties to halt the ongoing escalation.”A source described the call between the Saudis and Iranians had been “good and promising.”Another source said the 45-minute conversation was done with “the blessing of [Iranian] Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.”The news, in any other cycle, would be considered disheartening but hardly surprising.

Two facts underscore why the move was so concerning, however.First, Saudi-Israeli normalization would have continued the momentum of the Abraham Accords — the series of groundbreaking deals that normalized relations between Israel and several Arab states — and isolated the belligerent government in Tehran, creating a bloc of nations that included Israel which prioritized security and safety. A decade ago, such a deal between the Jewish state and other regional powers would have been considered unheard of.

“Normalization was already considered taboo (in the Arab world) … this war only amplifies that,” said Aziz Alghashian, a Saudi analyst quoted by Reuters.

Instead, yet again, the Biden administration seems to have been embarrassed by the Saudis. Biden had promised to treat the nation as a pariah on the campaign trail for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi but was instead willing to go to Saudi Arabia, greet MBS with a fist bump and basically beg for increased oil production he didn’t get.

Now, while U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan is busy insisting the talks about normalizing relations were “not on hold,” Reuters reported that Riyadh was balking at Washington’s insistence it condemn the mass murder of Israelis by a terrorist group.

“The first source familiar with Saudi thinking said Washington had pressed Riyadh this week to condemn the Hamas attack but said Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan pushed back. A U.S. source familiar with the issue confirmed this,” the wire service reported.

Instead, the Saudi government simply said after the call that it stood in “opposition to any form of civilian targeting and the loss of innocent lives” and emphasized the Saudis’ “unwavering stance in standing up for the Palestinian cause.”

The second problem is the priorities of the two states — and why Saudi Arabia turning to Iran indicates deeper issues.

“The Saudis are still convinced the region, and Saudi Arabia itself, needs to shift toward regional cooperation and economic development. Iran seems to think the priority is to take the fight to the Israelis first,” said Alex Vatanka, director of the Iran Program at the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C.

Vatanka’s analysis, Reuters reported, showed how the visions for the region “diverged,” as if there might be some difficulty in reconciling them. That’s a profoundly charitable reading.

By the time the call was made, after all, numerous reports indicated the Iranians both trained the forces that pulled off last weekend’s attack but gave the blessing for it to go ahead. One can safely assume that someone in the top branches of the Riyadh power structure had that intelligence, as well, or at least spoke English well enough and had a copy of The Wall Street Journal in which the steps that Iran took in aiding with the attack were laid out in detail.

Who, then, did the Saudi government call when it wanted to encourage stability? The side that’s supporting the terrorists, that’s who. That’s who they believe hold the cards to any sort of Middle Eastern security. Not Washington, but Tehran — typically one of Saudi Arabia’s foremost geopolitical adversaries.

The House of Saud isn’t blind. It sees a weak U.S. leader from a party no longer willing to stand up for our traditional allies in Israel.

The repercussions of that will be far broader than a simple phone call and a pause in talks about normalizing relations with Tel Aviv.

October 16, 2023 | 1 Comment »

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  1. When Biden’s policies work against US interests, I don’t count that as a mistake on his part. I believe he hates the US, and everything we stand for.