From outcast to ally. The president of the United States, Joe Biden, will visit the Middle East from July 13 to 16 and on his route he has included a visit to Saudi Arabia, as reported by a senior US government official. “We can expect the president to meet the crown prince,” the source said. In the midst of the energy crisis, Biden has included the main oil exporter on his tour and abandons the purpose of ostracizing the Saudi prince for the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
The trip, Biden’s first to the Middle East as president, will also take him to Israel and the West Bank, but the controversial part is the stopover in the Saudi city of Jeddah and his meeting with the crown prince. In 2019, in a Democratic primary debate, and in reference to Khashoggi’s assassination, Biden was very harsh on the Saudi regime: “We are going, in fact, to make them pay the price, and to make them, in fact, the pariahs what they are,” he said.
Biden has made the promotion of democracy and human rights the axis of much of his foreign policy. On his Asian trip he made stops in South Korea and Japan and opposed the informal alliance of the Quad (United States, Japan, Australia and India) with the authoritarian Chinese regime. The State Department called Michelle Bachelet’s trip to China as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights a “mistake.” At the Summit of the Americas, the United States vetoed Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua for their lack of respect for democracies, even at the price of being boycotted by other Latin American leaders. However, with Saudi Arabia, Washington has decided to turn the page.
Almost two weeks after information began to circulate about a possible Biden trip to Saudi Arabia, the White House has decided to end the speculation, confirm the visit and try to justify it. “The president is not going to change his views on human rights, he has made it clear,” the source said. However, “if he determines that it is in his interest to engage with any particular leader, and if such a relationship can work, then he will do so,” he added.
After being elected president, Biden not only did not apply any sanctions to the Saudi regime or Mohamed bin Salmán, but now he visits the country and plans to meet with the crown prince himself, considered a strong man of the regime. US intelligence pointed out to him as the intellectual author that he approved the murder of the journalist, born in Saudi Arabia, but with US nationality, and that he wrote for the newspaper The Washington Post.
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According to a statement from Karine Jean-Pierre, a White House spokeswoman, Biden will begin his trip to the Middle East in Israel, where he will meet with the country’s leaders “to discuss security, prosperity, and Israel’s growing integration into the region”.
According to the senior government official, the president will also reaffirm his firm commitment to Israel’s security and will highlight the economic and technological support he provides to the so-called Iron Dome, the missile and projectile detection and interception system. “The president will probably visit an area where these defensive systems are used, and he will talk about new innovations between our countries that use laser technologies to defeat missiles and other aerial threats,” said the senior government official.
Biden will also visit the West Bank to speak with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian Authority leaders and “reiterate his strong support for a two-state solution, with equal security, freedom and opportunity for the Palestinian people.”
From Israel, Biden will travel to Jeddah, in western Saudi Arabia, for the Summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council plus Egypt, Iraq and Jordan (known as the GCC+3), which will bring together nine leaders from the region, by invitation. of King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud. “The president appreciates the leadership of King Salmán and his invitation. He looks forward to this important visit to Saudi Arabia, which has been a strategic partner of the United States for nearly eight decades,” the statement, which makes no reference to the crown prince, said.
Biden will discuss support for the UN-mediated truce in Yemen, ways to expand regional economic and security cooperation, as well as measures to “deter threats from Iran, promote human rights, and ensure security.” world food and energy
Energy security is cited as one more of the issues to be discussed, but the United States is concerned about the evolution of energy prices, which has caused inflation to skyrocket, to a maximum of the last 30 years, and has sunk its popularity months before the legislative elections, in which 34 of the 100 senators and the 435 members of the House of Representatives are renewed. An increase in production by Saudi Arabia would help contain prices.