The winds are shifting.
As a candidate for president in 2019, Joe Biden called Saudi Arabia a “pariah.”
What’s more, Biden vowed to “reassess” the 75-year alliance between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, signaling a significant cooling of relations.
Upon becoming the American president in January 2020, Biden refused even to speak with the kingdom’s future monarch, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), saying he would only interact with King Salman.
In February 2021, Biden issued a report labeling MBS directly responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder without offering any proof, which I warned at the time could lead to a “train wreck” in U.S.-Saudi relations. (MBS has vigorously and consistently rejected accusations that he ordered the murder or even knew about it in advance, arguing that he and his team have worked to prosecute, convict and imprison those who were involved.)
Then Biden suspended arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
Then he withdrew a Patriot anti-missile battery from the kingdom amid near-constant missile and drone attacks from Iranian-backed terrorists in Yemen.
And he even dragged his feet on appointing a new ambassador to Riyadh.
The situation reached a low point in March when Riyadh refused to take Biden’s calls when the president pleaded with the Saudis to increase their daily oil production to drive down soaring gas prices in the States, as ALL ARAB NEWS reported on March 9.
BIDEN’S BIG SHIFT
Since then, Biden has suddenly and dramatically changed course.
- A new report by Israeli journalist Barak Ravid indicates that “the Biden administration has been quietly mediating among Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt on negotiations that, if successful, could be a first step on the road to the normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel.”
- Several days ago, we cited media reports that Biden may actually travel to Riyadh this year, possibly as early as next month. We previously noted rumors of a possible Biden trip to Saudi Arabia back on May 4.
- Last week, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin welcomed Saudi Vice Defense Minister Khalid bin Salman, the son of the king and younger brother of the crown prince, to Washington, to the Pentagon to discuss improving security ties.
- Last month, Biden finally nominated a new U.S. ambassador to Riyadh, career diplomat Michael Ratney. “If confirmed by the Senate, Ratney – who was previously the charge d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem and the U.S. special envoy for Syria – would be the first career diplomat to serve as ambassador to Riyadh in three decades,” Reuters reported.
- Recently, we noted that the Biden administration was reversing course on Patriot missile defense batteries and sending them back into Saudi Arabia.
BIDEN’S BIG OPPORTUNITY
The president is right to patch up relations with Riyadh.
Yes, he should respectfully but firmly press them to continue making major economic and social reforms, and to make significant human rights improvements.
At the same time, Biden needs to realize that in a world where the Iranian regime is just five days away from having enough enriched uranium to begin building an arsenal of nuclear weapons, America needs to build a strong, unified alliance with Israel and moderate Arab countries as a bulwark against Tehran.
What’s more, as I have been writing almost from the time we launched ALL ARAB NEWS, Biden has an historic opportunity not simply to help Israel and Saudi Arabia forge small agreements – he could help them actually forge an historic peace and normalization agreement worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize.
As I wrote in a column on November 13, 2020…..
Americans overwhelmingly want Saudi Arabia to be the next country to make peace with Israel.
What’s more, they want the next U.S. president to make it happen.
And it’s not just Republicans.
The vast majority of Democrats say a Saudi-Israeli peace deal is important to them and should be a top foreign policy priority for the White House.
Given the intense partisan rancor over the future of U.S.-Saudi relations over the past several years, that’s the surprising finding of an exclusive new ALL ARAB NEWS exit poll of Americans who voted last week.
The exclusive ALL ARAB NEWS exit poll asked respondents to evaluate the following statement: “Now that the U.S. has helped the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Republic of Sudan sign full peace treaties and normalization agreements with the State of Israel, I believe that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia should be the next Arab country to make peace with Israel. The next president, whoever it is, should make brokering an Israeli-Saudi peace treaty one of his top foreign policy priorities.”
78.4% of Americans said they agreed.
Only 0.5% said they did not know or had no opinion.
Interestingly, 84.6% of Donald Trump voters agreed with the statement.
Yet 72.5% of Joe Biden’s voters also said they want to see an Israeli-Saudi peace deal and want the next president to give it a big push.
While 83% of self-described “conservatives” agreed, so did 72% of “liberals” and 78.5% of “moderates.”
Could such numbers have an impact on persuading Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) that they should announce their desire to move forward with a normalization agreement with Israel, if they have already concluded such a deal would be in the kingdom’s own national interest?
Could such an announcement by Riyadh radically reset how the American people – including those in the Democratic Party – see the kingdom?