Joe Biden is suffering from a contradictory foreign policy disorder. On one hand, the US administration wants to follow a continued foreign policy approach vis a vis the Middle East, and at the same time, Biden also wants to punish Saudi Arabia and Israel. The Biden administration wants to re-enter the conflict in Syria and restart the bombings, for that it wants the support of Tel Aviv and Riyad, but also wants to unseat the tallest leaders in the region, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
This is the very conflict of interest situation that is directing the confused foreign policymakers of the USA in the Middle East. The US wants to advance a wide-ranging agenda in its relationship with Saudi Arabia that includes brokering a peace deal between the Gulf power and Israel, but will only be able to do so if Riyadh improves its human rights record, officials said Monday. The US administration is seemingly retracting on its early offensive on its allies. However, given the overt nature of those attacks, the Biden administration is not able to find a plausible reason that can balance its aggressive stance on its allies and its intention of working with the same allies to confront the challenges the US is facing in the region.
The most plausible reasons have already been elaborated by TFI in our previous articles. Be it, Joe Biden’s dangerous attempt to bring back Obama era situation in the Middle East, or the personal grudges that Joe Biden holds against the Israeli Prime Minister. However, Monday’s press brief was the polar opposite of what kind of language was coming out of Washington only last week.
“We seek to accomplish a great deal with the Saudis: to end the war in Yemen and ease Yemen’s humanitarian crisis, to use our leadership to forge ties across the region’s most bitter divide[s],” said State Department spokesperson Ned Price at the opening of his daily press briefing. “Whether that’s finding the way back from the brink of war with Iran, and to a meaningful regional dialogue, or forging a historic peace with Israel”, added Price.
Before this, days after declassifying the US intelligence report claiming that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved an operation to ‘capture or kill’ Jamal Khashoggi and then promising big action, the Biden administration backtracked on its intentions of punishing MBS. Biden earlier mentioned that a big decision would be taken on Monday and came up with the idea of sanctions on the people who have committed the crime. However, Washington clarified that they will not take any action against MBS, citing the precedent of not sanctioning the leader of a country that is a strategic partner.
Biden is too confused. The world knows that he is a weak President and Joe Biden is aware of the same. That is why, while he was not brave enough to tackle China and Iran, he tried to show his strength by targeting America’s Middle Eastern allies. Joe Biden has come to realise that they are creating a front against him. He has understood that they are forming an independent policy which is visible with the talks for military alliances among themselves without looping in the USA.
According to a report last month, Israel was planning to lobby the Biden administration not to pressurise regional allies like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates on matters related to human rights, fearing that doing so could imperil the Jewish state’s improved ties with the Arab countries and strengthen Iran.
All these developments have made Joe Biden take a step back and try to ease tensions with its allies in the region. However, he has still stuck to his demands for the Saudis to make some changes and improve their human rights records, just to show the world that the USA is not bowing down in front of its Middle Eastern allies. Biden wants to go ahead with Abraham Accord, but also wants to punish Saudi and Israel and bomb Syria too. These conflicting intentions are a direct result of a conflicting personality Joe Biden has become. He is trying to make the most impractical thing work, and he would have to retract on his earlier follies soon and follow along the foreign policy direction that Donald Trump had initiated.