Biden And the Middle East

An observer view from Washington D.C.

Abdulaziz Al-Anjeri, Founder and CEO of Reconnaissance Research, an independent think-tank based in Kuwait kindly agreed to share with The Columnist different views and opinions on the US policy in the Middle East region under the Biden administration. Below is the summary of the interview.

Being in Washington DC made it possible for Al-Anjeri to engage in many candid face-to-face discussions. He spoke with Middle East experts, many of whom have expressed their displeasure with President Biden's policy in the region. Some even went as far as calling it a complete failure. When asked, if the Biden administration had a clear vision and policy for the Middle East, the answer he got was: “If it exists, it is at best an unclear policy”. Or, as a retired diplomat put it: "I assumed that a veteran congressman who was a member of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations would know a thing or two about the Middle East!" referring to the fact that President Biden spent 12 years as a member in that committee.

It is apparent that the US President faces major challenges in dealing with the Middle East and wants to minimize his losses, as there doesn’t seem to be any hope for gains. During several meetings that brought Al-Anjeri together with a number of experts in Washington D.C., he summarized their impressions as follows:

First: Biden visited Saudi Arabia and met with the most influential leaders in the region, but it seems to no avail. Oil prices are still high, and the White House has announced that it is reevaluating the US-Saudi relationship due to the recent OPEC+ decision to reduce oil production. It resulted in further deterioration in relations with Riyadh and consequently may affect the relationship with other United States allies in the region who find great importance in aligning their foreign relations policy with that of Saudi Arabia, as they see it being one of the most important players in the Middle East region.

Second: The Iranian file has been stalling, and Washington has not taken any radical steps, especially on the nuclear file, which seems to be in negotiations for years, while at the same time, Iran's influence in the region is expanding. Dr John Duke Anthony, Founding President of the National Council on US-Arab Relations, says: “From an Iranian’s perspective, Iran is on a roll and a run, they don’t have to win, they can just disrupt. And they can disrupt for $100 with a drone add-on. They can do this by embarrassing the American aerospace and defence industry that sells billions to the region and yet cannot effectively defend against a several hundred dollar weapon".

Many agree that there is no way to enforce a strategy for dealing with Iran, as they see Iran's influence extending from Tehran to Beirut without any obstacles.

Third: Israel-Palestinian conflict. The policy followed by successive American administrations in blind support for Israel at the expense of legitimate Palestinian rights, first and foremost human rights, which Biden continued to follow, contributed to sowing more instability in the region and widening the gap between policymakers in the White House and people in the Arab world."

Indeed, much of the suffering that the Palestinians are currently experiencing are caused in one way or another by this one-eyed American policy.

Or as described by HRH Prince Turki Al-Faisal a few days ago at the Arab-US Policymakers Conference in Washington DC: "Our world is in a state of uncertainty and therefore in a state of strategic vacuum and strategic confusion. Such international strategic confusion is caused by the conduct, policies, and hypocrisy of great powers at the helm of the supposedly Rule-Based International Order."

Fourth: The humiliating and chaotic withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan, in addition to the collapse of the Ashraf Ghani regime, made the Afghan people fall victim to the unilateral rule of the Taliban movement. There is no doubt that the Afghan people will reap the bitter fruits of this US policy, in which they will blame America alone for decades to come.

Several questions remain to which Al-Anjari has not found answers. For instance, what will change if Biden leaves the White House after two years? Or what will the Middle East look like in 2024?

Al-Anjeri concluded: “It is apparent that the US feels its allies in the Middle East today are getting closer to Russia and China than to Washington, but are they really looking for reasons? The reasons for Arab rapprochement towards Russia and China -factors that attract - and the escalating causes of Arab distancing, so to speak, from the United States - factors that repel.

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