Reviews | Biden’s Choices – The Washington Post

After a year and a half of avoiding US strategic choices in the Middle East, President Biden reveals his cards.

His trip to the Middle East will answer three important questions: What will America’s security obligations to the Gulf region look like? What will be the role of the Biden administration in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict? And how will Biden deal with the traditional dilemma posed by the United States’ association with allies who regularly violate its values?

Read this piece in English: Middle East policy is too important to be guided by short-term issues

There are no easy answers to any of these questions; All of America’s choices in the Middle East are repulsive. This is why all previous US presidents have refrained from specifying their position on these choices until circumstances have compelled them to do so. President Biden is no exception. But given the process of reforming power relations in the world, Biden’s choices could affect America’s prestige and role far beyond the immediate challenges he seeks to address. Therefore, he must be careful not to create more problems with his choices than those he is trying to solve.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine demonstrated the error of the idea that the Middle East is no longer of strategic importance to the United States. This conflict has shown that the stability of global energy markets, and the status of the United States and its leadership of its allies are all related to the Middle East. The latest crisis has left the Biden administration unprepared for what appears to be Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The United States’ haste to ensure the cooperation of these two powerful allies exposes them to being led behind them in conflicts they must avoid. Biden in particular must avoid making his acceptance of the broad Saudi UAE definition of Golf Security the price of their cooperation on energy or Israel. If the United States gives its allies excessive security guarantees, it will then be forced to engage in conflict with Iran or to renounce its security promises – with the attendant, irreparable losses in credibility.

At the same time, the “Abraham agreements” and the accompanying normalization between Israel, the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco have failed to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and bring about broader peace in the region. The frequent clashes between Israelis and Palestinians have also confirmed that the United States cannot ignore this conflict. So far, the Biden administration has chosen to focus on a modest goal: maintaining the status quo between Israel and Palestine while taking limited steps, such as reopening the US Consulate in East Jerusalem and preventing both sides take provocative actions. But the last 20 months show that the political cost of achieving this modest goal is high. In other words, this strategy is not sustainable.

Finally, Biden will have to choose between difficult alternatives regarding Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and, to a lesser extent, Egyptian dictator Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. How Biden bin Salman handles is not just a moral issue, but a strategic challenge. The problem is not just Bin Salman’s order to assassinate Washington Post columnist and American resident Jamal Khashoggi, according to the CIA. The problem is that Bin Salman is a careless and unreliable player with unlimited ambitions. The way bin Salman handled the marginal challenge that Khashoggi represented reveals a unique blend of brutality, recklessness and an endless thirst for power. It was also demonstrated by his behavior on other occasions, such as the kidnapping and forced resignation of the Lebanese prime minister during his visit to the Saudi capital, the detention of dozens of senior Saudi businessmen and their compulsion to submit to his will, and play with Vladimir Putin as he invaded Ukraine and set fire to global energy markets. These examples illustrate the kind of leadership that awaits Saudi Arabia – and the United States – when bin Salman becomes king. Saudi Arabia is far more important than being left in the hands of such a party. If Biden chooses to appease bin Salman now, the crown prince will create even greater problems for the United States in the future.

The same goes for the Egyptian president. Here, too, Sisi’s brutality is not the real challenge for the United States, but rather its building of a regime based on Putin and inspiring other Arab leaders, his promotion of anti-American rhetoric and his approach to China and northern Russia. Korea. At the same time, the United States is funding him to do things he would do anyway, such as fight terrorism or mediate between Hamas and Israel. The strengthening of Sisi does not serve any American strategic goal in the region, on the contrary, it harms most of it.

It is true that the United States cannot choose its allies in the Middle East or change their values ​​and plans. Biden is right when he states – in his article published in the Washington Post this week – that his main goal in going to the Middle East is to keep the United States strong and safe. But he can do it in two very different ways: one that focuses on immediate goals without caring about what happens in the long run, and the other that uses American power and involvement to achieve immediate goals while seriously insisting on positive ones. transformations over the longer term. . Praying must follow this path.

With regard to Gulf security, the president must respond to the legitimate concerns of his Arab allies, but also push them towards broader security arrangements that include Iran, thus stabilizing the region and providing US leadership in it. He must take the simple steps he intends to take towards the Israelis and the Palestinians, but also engage them in a serious dialogue on the unsustainable consequences of continuing the status quo between them. And he must deal with Saudi Arabia and Egypt in a way that limits the powers of their rulers and no longer empowers them. Such choices will strengthen the United States’ position now without creating major obstacles in the future.

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