Biden defends in Saudi Arabia the influence of the US in the Middle East against China and Russia | International
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The president of the United States, Joe Biden, affirmed this Saturday during a summit of the Persian Gulf countries, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq held in Jeddah, and framed in his first and controversial trip to the Middle East, that his country “will not leave and will leave a void” in the region, and outlined the main lines of the policy that his Administration will follow in the area. The US president stressed that with this he wants to make it clear that Washington will continue to be “an active and committed partner” in the region, and that he has no intention of giving up the space it now occupies to China, Russia and Iran.
Under the watchful eye of the leaders of nine states in the area, Biden explained that his new framework for action is based on five major principles, which revolve mainly around security and integration issues. Thus, the president promised to strengthen his ties with the countries present and to ensure that they can defend themselves against external threats, as well as not allowing regional powers to endanger the freedom of navigation in their waters, in a double veiled allusion to Iran. , the great rival of some of the attendees.
Biden also advanced that the United States will work to reduce tensions and de-escalate conflicts in the area, including through its commitment to prevent Tehran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, that it will support political and economic ties with its partners for greater regional integration, and that it will promote human rights. “The United States is committed to building a positive future in the region in collaboration with all of you. America is not going anywhere,” she asserted.
Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia has drawn strong criticism because during the 2020 campaign that brought him to the White House, he promised to turn the desert kingdom into an international pariah for the responsibility that US intelligence services attributed to the leader. de facto of the country, Mohamed bin Salmán, in the murder of the critical Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the consulate in Istanbul in 2018. On Friday night, shortly after landing in Jeddah and after meeting with the Saudi authorities, Biden assured that he had addressed the Khashoggi’s case with Bin Salmán, who was “frank and direct in discussing it” and who made his opinion of the facts “very clear”.
The Saudi news network Al Arabiya, citing an unidentified source, reported this Saturday that Prince Bin Salman responded to Biden that they have taken measures to prevent another similar crime. But he took the opportunity to reproach him for the fact that the United States has also made mistakes, such as the invasion of Iraq, and reminded him of his lukewarm position with the death of veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, killed in May by Israeli fire while covering an army incursion. of Israel in the city of Jenin (West Bank).
Aware of the sensitivity of the matter, Biden tried to play down his meeting with the Saudi authorities in the weeks leading up to his trip, insisting that the main purpose of the visit was actually to attend the summit of the Gulf countries with Egypt, Jordan and Iraq to meet their leaders in person and discuss common interests.
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However, the cold initial greeting between Biden and Bin Salmán in Jeddah soon gave way to a more relaxed atmosphere and both have been photographed together and smiling at different times during the visit. Before traveling to Saudi Arabia, Biden also visited Israel and briefly the occupied Palestinian territories to meet with their respective leaders.
In fact, despite trying to downplay the bilateral part of his visit, Biden made the biggest announcements of the trip after meeting with Saudi authorities on Friday, and the US leader again highlighted some of them on Saturday at the summit with nine countries in the region. The most anticipated of these was the announcement of the withdrawal at the end of the year of the peacekeeping forces deployed on the strategic island of Tiran, at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba, in the Red Sea, under the Treaty of 1979 peace between Egypt and Israel. In 2018, the Egyptian Supreme Court approved, despite strong public opposition, an agreement to transfer sovereignty over the islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia. But since his status was regulated by the peace treaty, completion of the transfer required Israel’s approval. Friday’s announcement thus represents a new sign of harmony between the Israeli and Saudi authorities, despite not yet maintaining diplomatic relations.
On Friday morning, Saudi Arabia also announced the decision to open its airspace to planes coming from and going to Israel, which until now had to circle the country, in another sign of the growing regional integration of the Jewish state, which has already normalized relations with the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Bahrain, Egypt and Jordan. The US and Saudi delegations also reviewed progress in creating a more integrated regional air defense architecture, and one that should include Israel.
Another of the key issues of Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia has been energy. Here, the American leader affirmed on Friday night that he is doing everything possible to increase the supply of oil, whose price has skyrocketed since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and was optimistic with an announcement in this direction “in the coming weeks. ”, an allusion that points to the meeting that OPEC + will hold on August 3. On this matter, Prince Bin Salmán assured, however, this Saturday that adopting ambitious policies on the reduction of emissions will lead in the coming years to unprecedented inflation and an increase in energy prices.
The American leader also tried to curb the influence of Iran, Russia and China in the Middle East with his visit to the desert kingdom. And as part of this objective, he announced that he is going to collaborate with Saudi Arabia to develop 5G and 6G networks to compete with China’s Huawei and that he will work to extend the ceasefire in force in Yemen since April and to promote a peace agreement. in the country.
Biden also held bilateral meetings on Saturday with the leaders of Iraq, Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, which were marked, according to White House statements, by security, economic and related to greater regional integration issues. —including Israel—, at the expense of other issues such as respect for human rights and the future of Palestine.
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