Biden’s visit to the Gulf.. Strategic goals and modest results

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US President Joe Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia and his participation in the “Jeddah Security and Development” summit received great political and media attention, as it was his first visit to the region since taking office in early 2021.

It comes in light of polarization and international political, economic and military tensions.

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Despite the great interest and strategic importance of Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia for the United States and the countries of the region.

However, it did not fully achieve its American goals, especially in terms of opening wider doors for Saudi normalization with Israel, or with regard to increasing oil production as well, according to experts in separate statements.

And on Saturday evening, President Biden left Saudi Arabia after his participation in the summit, at the conclusion of a four-day tour of the region that included Israel, the Palestinian territories and Saudi Arabia.

And participated in the Jeddah summit, along with Biden, the leaders of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, the Sultanate of Oman, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq.

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Qatari writer Sheikha Al-Khater believes that Biden’s visit to the region came as “a necessary strategic choice that aligns with regional and political changes among many Arab countries.”

Al-Khater indicated that “the visit was evidence of the success of the coordination of Arab regimes in many files, the first of which was the Iranian threat to Arab national security.”

And she continued: “In addition to finding a just solution to the Palestinian issue, and this is what the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, drew attention to, that the Arab point of view must be taken into consideration, away from the Israeli rejection, which constitutes an obstacle to proposing any solutions to solve the Palestinian issue.”

Al-Khater stated that “Biden knows the power of the Gulf countries’ cards that can put pressure on the interests of the United States.”

She noted the importance of this, “especially in the current state of polarization between the Russian and American camps regarding the Ukrainian crisis.”

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She pointed out that the Ukrainian crisis “reflected on the rise in oil prices and production, and this is a meaning that Saudi Arabia is aware of its importance and its pressing power.”

She added, “Therefore, America dealt with seriousness and strategic priority without the slightest attention to Biden’s previous statements about the internal policies of some Gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia.”

Al-Khater believes that “the visit came to restore relations with Saudi Arabia and crystallize a new cooperation formula in relations, the basis of which is understanding the security needs of countries in the region and preserving common interests.”

And she added, “America is an important ally of the countries in the region, and the goal of the visit was to break Israel’s isolation more than before through the Saudi gate.”

She expressed her belief that “Saudi Arabia’s position is consistent regarding the right of the Palestinian people to have an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital, before any rapprochement with Israel.”

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On the economic side of the visit, Mustafa Abdel Salam, an Egyptian writer and journalist specializing in economic affairs, said that “Biden’s visit to the Gulf states did not achieve its goals on the economic level.”

He justified his opinion by saying: “The US president failed to extract Gulf approval, especially from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, two of the largest producers within OPEC, to make an immediate increase in oil production, as he had hoped.”

According to Abdel Salam, the immediate increase in oil production was “the step that (Biden) relies on a lot to calm the prices of crude and petroleum derivatives, especially in the American market, by increasing the supply in global markets.”

He added, “It is true that Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, announced last Saturday an increase in the Kingdom’s oil production to 13 million barrels per day, but this announcement was not dealt with positively by the oil markets.”

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He explained that the reason for this is that “the increase will not take place before the end of 2026 or the beginning of 2027, as Saudi Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman announced on May 16.”

He concluded that “therefore, the increase will not be immediate, but rather a need for huge Saudi investments in the oil sector.”

Abdul Salam cited this by “the increase in the price of oil after Biden left the Middle East,” adding that “oil prices continued to rise, supported by the weakness of the dollar and the scarcity of supplies in global markets.

This offset concerns about a recession and the possibility of a new lockdown in China linked to the coronavirus.”

He explained: “Despite the pressures exerted by the American president on the countries of the region in order to speed up the economic normalization between some of these countries, especially Saudi Arabia and Israel.

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However, it also failed to extract approval from the region’s leaders participating in the Jeddah summit to integrate Israel economically into the economies and markets of the region’s countries.

He pointed out that the United States was aiming to create a common regional market in the Middle East that includes Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Israel, which Biden did not succeed in achieving during the visit.

The economic writer stated: “It is true that (Biden) extracted approval for Saudi Arabia to open its airspace to all international civil airlines, including flights to and from Israel.

But he wanted more than that, which is full economic normalization and opening the markets of the Gulf countries to Israeli goods and products.

For his part, international relations expert Jalal Salmi said, “Biden’s visit focused mainly on geoenergy security in light of the energy scarcity that the European Union countries suffer from.”

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He pointed out that “the most important point is indirect security cooperation against any influence that would upset the balance of power in the region, specifically Iranian influence.”

Salmi explained that “Saudi Arabia and the UAE do not want to form a front against Russia and China, but they have a constant fear of Iran, and the mentioned front is not an offensive front but rather a defensive one within the framework of the influence equation.”

He said that “on an international level, there is no longer any American confidence in Britain, which the Biden administration was preparing to entrust with the affairs of the Middle East.”

He concluded that the Biden administration “has become convinced of the necessity of its presence in the region.”