World
Martin Jay
December 29, 2021
© Photo: REUTERS/Handout

In recent weeks, Arab countries, as well as Iran and Turkey have all been working out how they can move forward and get along with each other, all due to “sleepy Joe” Biden being asleep at the wheel. Where’s all this heading?

In recent weeks, Arab countries, as well as Iran and Turkey have all been working out how they can move forward and get along with each other, all due to “sleepy Joe” Biden being asleep at the wheel. Where’s all this heading?

Barely a year in office and what has Joe Biden done in the Middle East? Could it be an after dinner game, like what Europhiles in Brussels play (‘Name five famous Belgians’)? Name five decisions Biden has made in the Middle East?

U.S. presidents can be bold. And they can be wrong. But the worst type are those who are neither bold nor decisive in anything they do. Joe Biden, under the microscope, appears to be a U.S. president asleep at the wheel on so many domestic issues but when we look at the Middle East, it’s almost as though he’s in a coma. And it’s starting to affect how the region operates and how its countries interact with one another.

During Trump’s early days in office, he made a point of doing nothing on the international circuit until the Saudis were ready to accept him as his first official international trip to mark his presidency. The background to this was a strong relationship between Jared Kuchner and Mohamed Bin Salman – the latter installed as Crown Prince by the Trump administration on the condition that a recognition was made of Israel. But the Saudis wanted more. One of the reasons why it took six whole months before Trump made it to Riyadh and ingratiated himself with the cultural histrionics of sword dancing and looking at best ridiculous, was that a second dirty deal was being carved about how the White House would go through with a particularly mendacious ruse against Qatar – which transpired quickly as a blockade on the tiny energy rich state and statements from Trump condemning them for supporting terrorism. In fact, there was even a plan on the table crafted by a middleman working for Blackwater chief Erik Prince, to draw Trump into a plan which would involve a private army overthrowing the Royal Family in Qatar.

The last part of this didn’t transpire as Trump smelled a rat and got nervous at the last moment and the middleman involved, George Nader, soon found himself caught in a CIA trap which landed him in prison and his blueprint for the Qatar invasion scrapped, as part of the Mueller investigation.

For the Saudis, it was nirvana since the day Trump arrived and danced to their tune, even though Kushner was soon to try and capitalize on the situation to harangue the Qataris to invest in his failed New York City real estate endeavours. For MbS in particular nothing could go wrong and the years of fretting over the Obama years seemed well behind them. Finally a U.S. president who is going to show us some respect and give us a much better deal. Indeed, it was rarely pointed out by journalists in the U.S. that the so called amazing arms deal that Trump claimed to have pulled off, was in fact, as Trump likes to put it himself “fake news”. Not only was the figure grossly inflated but it was also not explained to the press that the terms of payment were on the “never never” which gave the Saudis the flexibility to reduce the speed of the purchases and even pull out.

And then everything changed with the Khashoggi murder for Trump and MbS. The Saudi Crown prince was seriously underwhelmed by the Trump response which was barely supportive by any stretch of the imagination.

At this point, relations between Washington and KSA began to sour and in so many ways, what we are witnessing today are rooted here.

Joe Biden came into office huffing and puffing about the Saudis and the Khashoggi murder and how the Saudis would have to pay a price for what was conveniently dubbed a hideous human rights abuse against almost a U.S. citizen.

But the reality is that Biden hasn’t done anything of the sort. In fact, in many ways he has shown that all the ranting and remonstrating about Khashoggi was actually just fake news being created to hit the Trump administration. What we see now is a weak, ineffective and, at times, moronic U.S. president who can barely even remember his own tepid rhetoric on Saudi Arabia and their horrendous, barbarous attacks on Yemenis, even to this day. Just recently, he found himself on the back legs on a deal he signed off to allow more arms sales to the Saudis, despite Congress resisting the deal.

Given the confusion and the dead-dead slow negotiations between the U.S. and Iran, the Saudis are now lost and confused. They can’t take Biden seriously and are almost certainly betting on him not being around for a second term. Bearing in mind that they couldn’t take Trump seriously to help them in their hour of need, amidst talk to possible plots to overthrow MbS, it is hardly surprising that they think of Biden as a fool, who is not worth the time of day.

And so, the recent news that the Kingdom has turned to China to help it develop ballistic missiles really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone given the backdrop of the regime’s worries both domestically and regionally. There have been plenty of warning signs since Khashoggi that the Saudis were shopping around and warming to both China and the Russians as the deal that they had struck with the Americans was very expensive and brought little advantages politically. With China as a partner now, there is leverage towards Iran which, in itself, actually works as a lightning rod to defuse tensions rather than exacerbate them. In fact, relations in the region are generally improving between old rivalries on a grand scale due to Biden’s dithering, as we have just seen a new page turned with Turkey which now is beefing up relations with its old foes in the region like the UAE and Egypt. The fact that Abu Dhabi orchestrated the attempted coup d’etat against Erdogan in 2016 and earlier in 2013 masterminded the successful overthrow of Muslim Brotherhood icon Morsi in Egypt shows security concerns, COVID, domestic woes, Iran’s growth are enough to smash heads together and work out how enemies can seek a workable peace with one another.

Who knows where this all heading, but a peace deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran is not as far fetched as it sounds. Who needs the Americans?

Biden’s Dithering in the Middle East Is Forcing Old Enemies to Mend Broken Bridges

In recent weeks, Arab countries, as well as Iran and Turkey have all been working out how they can move forward and get along with each other, all due to “sleepy Joe” Biden being asleep at the wheel. Where’s all this heading?

In recent weeks, Arab countries, as well as Iran and Turkey have all been working out how they can move forward and get along with each other, all due to “sleepy Joe” Biden being asleep at the wheel. Where’s all this heading?

Barely a year in office and what has Joe Biden done in the Middle East? Could it be an after dinner game, like what Europhiles in Brussels play (‘Name five famous Belgians’)? Name five decisions Biden has made in the Middle East?

U.S. presidents can be bold. And they can be wrong. But the worst type are those who are neither bold nor decisive in anything they do. Joe Biden, under the microscope, appears to be a U.S. president asleep at the wheel on so many domestic issues but when we look at the Middle East, it’s almost as though he’s in a coma. And it’s starting to affect how the region operates and how its countries interact with one another.

During Trump’s early days in office, he made a point of doing nothing on the international circuit until the Saudis were ready to accept him as his first official international trip to mark his presidency. The background to this was a strong relationship between Jared Kuchner and Mohamed Bin Salman – the latter installed as Crown Prince by the Trump administration on the condition that a recognition was made of Israel. But the Saudis wanted more. One of the reasons why it took six whole months before Trump made it to Riyadh and ingratiated himself with the cultural histrionics of sword dancing and looking at best ridiculous, was that a second dirty deal was being carved about how the White House would go through with a particularly mendacious ruse against Qatar – which transpired quickly as a blockade on the tiny energy rich state and statements from Trump condemning them for supporting terrorism. In fact, there was even a plan on the table crafted by a middleman working for Blackwater chief Erik Prince, to draw Trump into a plan which would involve a private army overthrowing the Royal Family in Qatar.

The last part of this didn’t transpire as Trump smelled a rat and got nervous at the last moment and the middleman involved, George Nader, soon found himself caught in a CIA trap which landed him in prison and his blueprint for the Qatar invasion scrapped, as part of the Mueller investigation.

For the Saudis, it was nirvana since the day Trump arrived and danced to their tune, even though Kushner was soon to try and capitalize on the situation to harangue the Qataris to invest in his failed New York City real estate endeavours. For MbS in particular nothing could go wrong and the years of fretting over the Obama years seemed well behind them. Finally a U.S. president who is going to show us some respect and give us a much better deal. Indeed, it was rarely pointed out by journalists in the U.S. that the so called amazing arms deal that Trump claimed to have pulled off, was in fact, as Trump likes to put it himself “fake news”. Not only was the figure grossly inflated but it was also not explained to the press that the terms of payment were on the “never never” which gave the Saudis the flexibility to reduce the speed of the purchases and even pull out.

And then everything changed with the Khashoggi murder for Trump and MbS. The Saudi Crown prince was seriously underwhelmed by the Trump response which was barely supportive by any stretch of the imagination.

At this point, relations between Washington and KSA began to sour and in so many ways, what we are witnessing today are rooted here.

Joe Biden came into office huffing and puffing about the Saudis and the Khashoggi murder and how the Saudis would have to pay a price for what was conveniently dubbed a hideous human rights abuse against almost a U.S. citizen.

But the reality is that Biden hasn’t done anything of the sort. In fact, in many ways he has shown that all the ranting and remonstrating about Khashoggi was actually just fake news being created to hit the Trump administration. What we see now is a weak, ineffective and, at times, moronic U.S. president who can barely even remember his own tepid rhetoric on Saudi Arabia and their horrendous, barbarous attacks on Yemenis, even to this day. Just recently, he found himself on the back legs on a deal he signed off to allow more arms sales to the Saudis, despite Congress resisting the deal.

Given the confusion and the dead-dead slow negotiations between the U.S. and Iran, the Saudis are now lost and confused. They can’t take Biden seriously and are almost certainly betting on him not being around for a second term. Bearing in mind that they couldn’t take Trump seriously to help them in their hour of need, amidst talk to possible plots to overthrow MbS, it is hardly surprising that they think of Biden as a fool, who is not worth the time of day.

And so, the recent news that the Kingdom has turned to China to help it develop ballistic missiles really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone given the backdrop of the regime’s worries both domestically and regionally. There have been plenty of warning signs since Khashoggi that the Saudis were shopping around and warming to both China and the Russians as the deal that they had struck with the Americans was very expensive and brought little advantages politically. With China as a partner now, there is leverage towards Iran which, in itself, actually works as a lightning rod to defuse tensions rather than exacerbate them. In fact, relations in the region are generally improving between old rivalries on a grand scale due to Biden’s dithering, as we have just seen a new page turned with Turkey which now is beefing up relations with its old foes in the region like the UAE and Egypt. The fact that Abu Dhabi orchestrated the attempted coup d’etat against Erdogan in 2016 and earlier in 2013 masterminded the successful overthrow of Muslim Brotherhood icon Morsi in Egypt shows security concerns, COVID, domestic woes, Iran’s growth are enough to smash heads together and work out how enemies can seek a workable peace with one another.

Who knows where this all heading, but a peace deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran is not as far fetched as it sounds. Who needs the Americans?

In recent weeks, Arab countries, as well as Iran and Turkey have all been working out how they can move forward and get along with each other, all due to “sleepy Joe” Biden being asleep at the wheel. Where’s all this heading?

In recent weeks, Arab countries, as well as Iran and Turkey have all been working out how they can move forward and get along with each other, all due to “sleepy Joe” Biden being asleep at the wheel. Where’s all this heading?

Barely a year in office and what has Joe Biden done in the Middle East? Could it be an after dinner game, like what Europhiles in Brussels play (‘Name five famous Belgians’)? Name five decisions Biden has made in the Middle East?

U.S. presidents can be bold. And they can be wrong. But the worst type are those who are neither bold nor decisive in anything they do. Joe Biden, under the microscope, appears to be a U.S. president asleep at the wheel on so many domestic issues but when we look at the Middle East, it’s almost as though he’s in a coma. And it’s starting to affect how the region operates and how its countries interact with one another.

During Trump’s early days in office, he made a point of doing nothing on the international circuit until the Saudis were ready to accept him as his first official international trip to mark his presidency. The background to this was a strong relationship between Jared Kuchner and Mohamed Bin Salman – the latter installed as Crown Prince by the Trump administration on the condition that a recognition was made of Israel. But the Saudis wanted more. One of the reasons why it took six whole months before Trump made it to Riyadh and ingratiated himself with the cultural histrionics of sword dancing and looking at best ridiculous, was that a second dirty deal was being carved about how the White House would go through with a particularly mendacious ruse against Qatar – which transpired quickly as a blockade on the tiny energy rich state and statements from Trump condemning them for supporting terrorism. In fact, there was even a plan on the table crafted by a middleman working for Blackwater chief Erik Prince, to draw Trump into a plan which would involve a private army overthrowing the Royal Family in Qatar.

The last part of this didn’t transpire as Trump smelled a rat and got nervous at the last moment and the middleman involved, George Nader, soon found himself caught in a CIA trap which landed him in prison and his blueprint for the Qatar invasion scrapped, as part of the Mueller investigation.

For the Saudis, it was nirvana since the day Trump arrived and danced to their tune, even though Kushner was soon to try and capitalize on the situation to harangue the Qataris to invest in his failed New York City real estate endeavours. For MbS in particular nothing could go wrong and the years of fretting over the Obama years seemed well behind them. Finally a U.S. president who is going to show us some respect and give us a much better deal. Indeed, it was rarely pointed out by journalists in the U.S. that the so called amazing arms deal that Trump claimed to have pulled off, was in fact, as Trump likes to put it himself “fake news”. Not only was the figure grossly inflated but it was also not explained to the press that the terms of payment were on the “never never” which gave the Saudis the flexibility to reduce the speed of the purchases and even pull out.

And then everything changed with the Khashoggi murder for Trump and MbS. The Saudi Crown prince was seriously underwhelmed by the Trump response which was barely supportive by any stretch of the imagination.

At this point, relations between Washington and KSA began to sour and in so many ways, what we are witnessing today are rooted here.

Joe Biden came into office huffing and puffing about the Saudis and the Khashoggi murder and how the Saudis would have to pay a price for what was conveniently dubbed a hideous human rights abuse against almost a U.S. citizen.

But the reality is that Biden hasn’t done anything of the sort. In fact, in many ways he has shown that all the ranting and remonstrating about Khashoggi was actually just fake news being created to hit the Trump administration. What we see now is a weak, ineffective and, at times, moronic U.S. president who can barely even remember his own tepid rhetoric on Saudi Arabia and their horrendous, barbarous attacks on Yemenis, even to this day. Just recently, he found himself on the back legs on a deal he signed off to allow more arms sales to the Saudis, despite Congress resisting the deal.

Given the confusion and the dead-dead slow negotiations between the U.S. and Iran, the Saudis are now lost and confused. They can’t take Biden seriously and are almost certainly betting on him not being around for a second term. Bearing in mind that they couldn’t take Trump seriously to help them in their hour of need, amidst talk to possible plots to overthrow MbS, it is hardly surprising that they think of Biden as a fool, who is not worth the time of day.

And so, the recent news that the Kingdom has turned to China to help it develop ballistic missiles really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone given the backdrop of the regime’s worries both domestically and regionally. There have been plenty of warning signs since Khashoggi that the Saudis were shopping around and warming to both China and the Russians as the deal that they had struck with the Americans was very expensive and brought little advantages politically. With China as a partner now, there is leverage towards Iran which, in itself, actually works as a lightning rod to defuse tensions rather than exacerbate them. In fact, relations in the region are generally improving between old rivalries on a grand scale due to Biden’s dithering, as we have just seen a new page turned with Turkey which now is beefing up relations with its old foes in the region like the UAE and Egypt. The fact that Abu Dhabi orchestrated the attempted coup d’etat against Erdogan in 2016 and earlier in 2013 masterminded the successful overthrow of Muslim Brotherhood icon Morsi in Egypt shows security concerns, COVID, domestic woes, Iran’s growth are enough to smash heads together and work out how enemies can seek a workable peace with one another.

Who knows where this all heading, but a peace deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran is not as far fetched as it sounds. Who needs the Americans?

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

See also

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.