Joe Biden Tried To Spin His Saudi Arabia Trip — And It Was A Total Mess | HuffPost Latest News

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  texan1211  •  4 weeks ago  •  12 comments

By:   AkbarSAhmed (HuffPost)

Joe Biden Tried To Spin His Saudi Arabia Trip — And It Was A Total Mess | HuffPost Latest News
Many of the president's own aides and fellow Democrats believe he is set to be played by the kingdom and its de facto ruler, Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



Before President Joe Biden left for the Middle East this week, he and his team spent weeks trying to publicly and privately defend the most controversial part of his trip: his visit to Saudi Arabia. With the Saudi stopover imminent ― Biden arrives in the kingdom on Friday ― that effort looks like a clear failure.

Within the administration, skeptical national security staffers see the Saudi stint as hypocritical and unlikely to boost American interests ― with some calling it a "Summit for Autocracy" in a pointed reference to Biden's "Summit for Democracy" last December, according to one U.S. official. White House outreach to human rights groups and progressive activists left multiple recipients doubtful that Biden would do anything to rein in alarming Saudi repression. And on Capitol Hill, many of Biden's fellow Democrats believe he is set to be played by the kingdom and its de facto ruler, Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman.

Key lawmakers working on global affairs are concerned about "how little the administration is getting in return for an open-armed, public embrace of MBS," said a senior congressional aide, using a common nickname for the prince. Most experts agree the visit will be far more beneficial for the Saudis than the United States; Riyadh is unlikely to offer Biden meaningful help on his priorities, like lowering global oil prices and limiting the Middle East influence of China and Russia, they say.

On Saturday, Biden acknowledged the broad wariness about his plan by taking the rare step of issuing a preemptive justification for the visit. In a Washington Post opinion piece, the president argued that he is promoting peace and uniting American partners in the region and said he "reversed the blank-check policy" toward the crown prince of his predecessor Donald Trump by publicly tying the prince to Jamal Khashoggi's murder and sanctioning several Saudis.

But Biden's examples of progress toward peace — in Yemen and between Israel and the Palestinians — represent pauses in conflict rather than lasting resolutions to deep fundamental tensions. Meanwhile, U.S.-friendly nations from Israel to squabbling Gulf Arab states have drawn closer to each other for their own reasons, including their desire to act independently of American choices, and officials and watchdog groups believe Biden's limited actions against Khashoggi's killers were not enough to deter future abuses.

In a Monday rebuttal to Biden's piece, Washington Post publisher Fred Ryan accused the president of an "about-face" from his campaign trail promises of justice for Khashoggi, a contributor to the paper, and said the administration's approach would "erode our moral authority and breed anti-American resentment."

The Biden administration's closed-door sales pitch has not had much success either.

On June 17, White House human rights official Rob Berschinski set up a meeting with representatives of civil society organizations working on Saudi issues to discuss the visit.


"It's very convenient: They can say, 'Oh, yes, [human rights] was raised privately,' while doing their best to secure U.S. hegemony, U.S. arms sales and defense for Israel at great risk."
- Attendee of White House meeting on Biden's Saudi trip

"It felt like a box-checking exercise to indicate that they had consulted with the human rights community," one attendee of the event told HuffPost. Another person present said officials repeated the administration's public narrative that the president would raise concerns about specific Saudi dissidents and the kingdom's overall limits on basic freedoms.

Both attendees spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid angering the administration.

"They were wanting to focus it on this micro issue of individual cases [of people targeted by the Saudi government]. ... It's very convenient: They can say, 'Oh, yes, this was raised privately,' while doing their best to secure U.S. hegemony, U.S. arms sales and defense for Israel at great risk," said the first attendee.

The attendee noted when they expressed concern about reports of new U.S. security commitments to the Saudis, the United Arab Emirates and Israel that could draw Washington deeper into regional conflicts, officials at the event dismissed the idea as simply a rumor.

Private discussions with the administration are also worsening frustration about the trip in Congress, the congressional aide told HuffPost.

Multiple officials have conveyed that Biden may abandon his policy of denying offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia to encourage peace in Yemen, where the Saudis have since 2015 run a military campaign that has been accused of hundreds of war crimes, the aide continued. Saudi officials have pushed for the move in multiple meetings, Reuters reported on July 11.

The shift could mean the U.S. would again supply the Saudis with bombs like those they have used to kill civilians ― and could be followed by a flood of new arms deals for Riyadh, in an echo of the Trump era. Last month, the Government Accountability Office said the Defense and State departments have not fully accounted for how U.S.-made weapons sold to the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates have hurt regular Yemenis.

To most Democrats, who have in recent years prioritized peace in Yemen and limiting U.S. involvement in the country's civil war, such a change "would be misguided," the aide said.

As Biden worked through the first leg of his trip, in Israel, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) channeled the abiding questions among the president's allies about his next stop in a Foreign Policy piece published July 13.

"Over and over again, the Saudi government acts in ways that are directly contrary to U.S. security interests, and over and over again, the United States just looks the other way," Murphy wrote. "If this trip is going to be worth it, the United States needs Saudi Arabia to make real commitments to improve its human rights record, provide justice for political dissenters and their families, and end the war in Yemen. … Biden should make clear that without real commitments on these key issues, the United States' willingness to continue as Saudi Arabia's security partner is at risk."



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Texan1211
Professor Principal
1  seeder  Texan1211    4 weeks ago
Within the administration, skeptical national security staffers see the Saudi stint as hypocritical and unlikely to boost American interests ― with some calling it a "Summit for Autocracy" in a pointed reference to Biden's "Summit for Democracy" last December, according to one U.S. official. White House outreach to human rights groups and progressive activists left multiple recipients doubtful that Biden would do anything to rein in alarming Saudi repression. And on Capitol Hill, many of Biden's fellow Democrats believe he is set to be played by the kingdom and its de facto ruler, Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman.

Sounds to me like even his own people are thinking this was a bad, bad idea.

Sending Biden to beg for oil seems beneath the Office to me.

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
Professor Quiet
1.1  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Texan1211 @1    4 weeks ago

Biden should have just stayed home...

 
 
 
Jasper2529
Professor Participates
2  Jasper2529    4 weeks ago

Now that Biden disobeyed his handlers' orders to not shake hands "due to Covid" in Israel, he'll have to shake hands with MBS. 

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
Professor Quiet
2.1  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Jasper2529 @2    4 weeks ago

I dearly hope Biden tries to shake MBS's left hand!

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
3  seeder  Texan1211    4 weeks ago
Key lawmakers working on global affairs are concerned about "how little the administration is getting in return for an open-armed, public embrace of MBS," said a senior congressional aide, using a common nickname for the prince. Mostexperts agreethe visit will be far more beneficial for the Saudis than the United States; Riyadh is unlikely to offer Biden meaningful help on his priorities, like lowering global oil prices and limiting the Middle East influence of China and Russia, they say.

Sounds like a rather unproductive trip is in store.

Of course, while he is overseas, Biden may avoid some questions about all of that outdated inflation data just released and what steps his Administration is actually taking to relieve the effects of it.

Some bright Democrats think that forgiving student loan debt will somehow lower inflation.

They just can't say how.

 
 
 
evilgenius
PhD Guide
4  evilgenius    4 weeks ago

Yep. Biden is fucked here. If this were 10 years ago it would have been a smart play as other Presidents have done it, but the politics has changed since then. Here he's perceived to be dealing from a position of weakness and not one of strength as he does in Ukraine/Russia war.

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
4.1  seeder  Texan1211  replied to  evilgenius @4    4 weeks ago

You think Biden is in a position of strength regarding Ukraine?

How so?

The war is in what--its going on 5 months now--so what specifically is Biden's strength here?

 
 
 
evilgenius
PhD Guide
4.1.1  evilgenius  replied to  Texan1211 @4.1    4 weeks ago
You think Biden is in a position of strength regarding Ukraine?

The US took the lead in NATO negotiations to support Ukraine and sanctions against Russia, the Russian oligarchs and Putin himself.

The war is in what--its going on 5 months now--so what specifically is Biden's strength here?

NATO is in fact expanding in opposition to Putin pressed by the US. 

Pretty much the only significant thing the Biden Admin can point to that they've really done is Ukraine & infrastructure. Otherwise it's mostly a stalemate in Congress and in the courts. They also haven't made much of any progress in Asia or the Americas though they've tried. The progressive wing is in full tantrum mode and all the party can do as a whole is "Trump bad, mkay." 

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
4.1.2  seeder  Texan1211  replied to  evilgenius @4.1.1    4 weeks ago
Pretty much the only significant thing the Biden Admin can point to that they've really done is Ukraine & infrastructure.

Pointing to an ongoing war with really no end in sight doesn't seem wise or justifiable in any way.

And pointing out how Russia is still attacking and killing civilians doesn't seem to be a position of strength, to tell you the truth.

The infrastructure thing I get, but doubt that people will remember it so much after paying higher prices for everything for well over a year.

 
 
 
Nerm_L
PhD Principal
5  Nerm_L    4 weeks ago

Trump's unequivocal stance toward Israel fostered normalized relations between Israel and several other Arab countries in the region.  Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel took the Palestinian conflict off the table.  Trump's policy approach was intended to allow the United States to reduce its presence in the Middle East.

Biden is attempting to revitalize the presence of the United States in the Middle East just as he did in Europe.  As the noise from the behind-the-scenes alarmists suggests, the presence of the United States in the Middle East has depended upon conflict in the region.  Biden appears to be attempting to firm up a coalition in the Middle East.  That will likely be followed with escalating conflict between that coalition and, likely, Iran and its Russian ally.  If the Saudis are open to a coalition then we shouldn't be surprised if there is a news blitz about Iran in the near future. 

 
 
 
squiggy
Sophomore Quiet
5.1  squiggy  replied to  Nerm_L @5    4 weeks ago

“… a news blitz about Iran in the near future.”

That’ll happen the morning after the Jews blitz Iran. I don’t think any neighbors want a nuclear Iran - it’s just a matter of who wants to put their name on the threat’s elimination.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
6  Buzz of the Orient    4 weeks ago

I guess Saudi Arabia is one nation America isn't going to buy loyalty from so its usual form of diplomacy might not work there.  By the way, weren't most of the 9/11 terrorists Saudis?

 
 

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