The real reason for Biden’s capitulation to the Saudi Crown Prince

Committing American lives to defend dictatorships is far more scandalous than engaging with MBS.

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by Trita Parsi, MSNBC

All the latest headlines about President Joe Biden’s July trip to Saudi Arabia focus on a deal to push down gas prices. In reality, he is making a much more sinister and dangerous calculation than most realize: He is reportedly planning to offer the dictators in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — where all but two of the 9/11 terrorists came from — a defense pact that commits American lives to defend their regimes. What could go right?

When Biden ran for the White House, he pledged to break with then-President Donald Trump’s Middle East policy: bring U.S. troops home from the Middle East, renew the Iran nuclear deal, end the war in Yemen, and “make the Saudis the pariah that they are.” But after refusing to take necessary steps to return to the Iran deal, and with rumors abounding that he is about to offer the UAE and Saudi Arabia a defense pact, Biden’s policy is increasingly looking like a continuation of Trump’s Middle East strategy.

Biden isn’t just forgiving Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for his direct role in the beheading of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in return for a Saudi promise to pump more oil. As Biden admitted last week, this Middle East trip is about regional security — and that of Israel in particular. “The commitments from the Saudis don’t relate to anything having to do with energy,” Biden told reporters June 12. “It happens to be a larger meeting taking place in Saudi Arabia. That’s the reason I’m going. And it has to do with national security for them — for Israelis.”

Rumors have been circulating in Washington for months that Biden is seeking to expand Trump’s signature foreign policy initiative — the Abraham Accords — which normalized diplomatic relations between Israel and Bahrain and the UAE; Biden wants to bring Saudi Arabia into a similar kind of arrangement with Israel. Details are beginning to leak of how he will try to get Saudi Arabia to take critical steps toward recognizing Israel. And the most alarming one is that the United States is offering a major security pact to the autocratic regimes in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

According to a source close to the ruler of the Emirates, this would be a “binding strategic defense cooperation pact” that goes beyond anything the U.S. has agreed to in the region before. A former Biden adviser, David Shapiro, confirmed to Newsweek magazine that Saudi Arabia was looking for assurances that the U.S. will “retain a significant military presence in the region to help Saudi Arabia address the threats it faces from Iran,” as well as to take Saudi Arabia’s side in its gruesome war in Yemen.

Committing American lives to defend these Arab dictatorships is far more scandalous than an embarrassing presidential handshake with the Saudi crown prince. Biden will in one swoop break his promises of bringing troops home from the Middle East, making Saudi Arabia pay a price, and ending the war in Yemen.

And arguably, Biden’s arms sales-boosting defense pact is the reason why he is breaking his pledge to return to Iran deal as well since that would require delisting Iran’s Revolutionary Guard from the U.S. terrorist list, which would infuriate Israel and Saudi Arabia and jeopardize the defense pact.

For the U.S., this amounts to an awful deal. It’s all give and no take because none of what the Gulf states are offering is likely to pan out.

To start with, establishing full diplomatic relations with Israel is a concession to Israel, not to the U.S. It does not advance U.S. security one iota. Nor does it bring peace to Israel and Palestine, or stability to the Middle East, which the experience thus far with the Abraham Accords already has proven. Indeed, peace is not really the objective. Rather, according to Jared Kushner’s August 2021 annual strategy document of the Abraham Accords Peace Institute, the objective is to “move beyond the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

In that spirit, the Biden administration has not pressed Israel for any concessions to the Palestinians as part of this agreement. Instead, Biden has requested that Israel refrain from any provocative actions in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem that could inflame tensions ahead of his visit. Once his visit is over, Biden will presumably have no objections to Israel’s ongoing repression of the Palestinians. Indeed, Israel’s creeping annexation of Palestinian territory has accelerated since the Abraham Accords were signed. As Zaha Hassan and Marwan Muasher write in Foreign Affairs, “The truth is that the accords have not advanced peace in the Middle East because Israel’s aim in signing the accords was to redirect world attention away from its military occupation, not to end it.”

This is not a recipe for peace, but for violence. Not surprisingly, during the first three months of this year, almost 50 Palestinians were killed by Israel, and the Palestinians have killed 18 Israelis. The Palestinian deaths are a fivefold increase over the same period the previous year, while the comparative increase in Israeli deaths is even greater.

Secondly, Biden’s gamble is also unlikely to push down skyrocketing gas prices. Experts are skeptical that the Saudis sit on enough unused capacity to push down American gas prices substantially. The root of the problem is Washington’s over-reliance on Saudi Arabia — a dependence that will only grow more damaging to U.S. interests as Biden moves closer to the Wahhabi kingdom at the expense of diversifying America’s relations in the Middle East. For instance, Iran has an estimated 85 million barrels of oil stored onshore and offshore that could almost instantly be put on the market, presuming, of course, that Biden would return to the Iran nuclear deal.

Thirdly, Biden’s defense pact is not likely to make the Middle East overall more secure. The Abraham Accords — contrary to claims that they are a creative new approach to security in the Middle East — continue a four-decade-long, failed American strategy in the region: That of organizing the region around the goal of isolating and containing Iran. As Biden officials themselves have admitted, this strategy has been a source of conflict in the region rather than a force for stability. “Most of the region’s dysfunction has roots in Iran’s exclusion,” Biden’s Iran envoy Rob Malley said in late 2021.

Organizing the rest of the region against Iran will be a boon for arms producers, but it will not create security. Iran is already widely outspent on arms and defense by Saudi Arabia, Israel and the UAE, and an American commitment to defend these states has, in fact, made their foreign policies more aggressive and risk-accepting in the past. Faced with a united Israeli-American-Saudi-UAE front, in the midst of an escalating Israeli campaign to assassinate Iranian officials, Iran may be more likely to make the political decision to build a nuclear bomb. (American, European and Israeli intelligence services all agree Iran has not made that decision thus far.)

Perhaps the most important commitment the U.S. will seek to extract from Saudi Arabia and the UAE is alignment with America’s strategy to confront Russia and China. “The Saudis will make certain commitments about remaining fully aligned with the United States in its competition with Russia and China,” Shapiro told Newsweek. But there’s little to suggest that Biden’s strategy of showering the Saudi crown prince and the ruler of the UAE, Mohammed Bin Zayed, with concessions will bring about a sustainable Saudi-Emirati commitment to the U.S. side in the great power competition of this century.

The Saudi crown prince has driven an uncompromising line with Biden — and won. He famously shrugged off Biden’s refusal to engage with him during the initial stage of his presidency. “I simply do not care,” he told The Atlantic, and patiently waited for Biden to cave. The Saudis are already dictating the terms of Biden’s visit, forcing Biden to see the crown prince before he is allowed to meet any other Saudi official. Giving the crown prince more is not likely to make him more malleable, as political scientists, Patricia Sullivan, Brock Tessman and Xiaojun Li’s research shows that “increasing levels of U.S. military aid significantly reduce cooperative foreign policy behavior with the United States.”

The most likely outcome of Biden’s meeting with the crown prince is that Saudi Arabia and the UAE will pocket Biden’s many concessions and offer tactical collaboration against Russia and China in the short run while keeping their options open to betray Washington down the road. If they truly believed that they shouldn’t bet against China and Russia in this competition, they would not have needed all of these American concessions to align themselves with the U.S.

From the very moment then-President, Barack Obama concluded the Iran nuclear deal, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE opposed it and favored an arrangement that would further tie the U.S. to the Middle East and to their own security interests. By quitting the Iran deal and signing the Abraham Accords, Trump took the first steps toward acquiescing to the demands of these states. Biden is now completing what Trump started.


Trita Parsi is the executive vice president of the Quincy Institute and the author of “Losing an Enemy — Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy.”

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23 COMMENTS

  1. Being as how the Zionist cabal that runs the USA is pushing us into a catastrophic war with Russia, we are $30 trillion in debt, and the dollar will soon be worthless, it looks like a total reshuffling of the deck will happen whether we like it or not. This is all by design, mind you. Netanyahu bragged that this would happen in 1990. We are the “golden calf” that will be thrown into a nuclear fire and only the chosenites, most of whom are so-called Christian, will be spared. If you buy that BS maybe WWIII will be a good thing.

  2. I would sanction the countries of OPEC, and station our carrier fleet off the coast of Britain.
    The one thing US people should agree on, get out of the oil business, we do not need it, and it puts us in a position of fealty to narcissists appointed by the queen.
    Disgusting. I hope gas gets to 20 per gallon here, as that is the catalyst OPEC never wants.

    • YOU might not need it but the US economy which is war based sure does:

      “The DOD is the single largest consumer of energy in the US, and in fact, the world’s single largest institutional consumer of petroleum. Since 2001, the DOD has consistently consumed between 77 and 80 percent of all US government energy consumption.”

  3. “Committing American lives to defend dictatorships is far more scandalous than engaging with MBS.” 😂😂😂 as if America itself is not a dictatorship and doesn’t silence every single opposite voice. No need to mention Quincy is a Zionist think tank.

    • Name an outlet in Fascistown which is not under their control.
      Swarming in between the hundreds of these outlets, Trita has always been labeled mullah appeaser just because he opposes a war. Make whatever you want of that, the critics of Quincy are likudnik warhawks.

    • The US still has the most free speech of any country in the world. We are not a dictatorship.
      Can I post on Iranian sites against religion ? Can I make a cartoon of Mohammed ?
      Religious fascist states like Israel, Iran, Saudi, are all the same. It is all made up.
      Freedom FROM religion should be considered a Global human right.

    • David Odell, sorry to disappoint you, but 25-30 of your “American” websites have blocked my accounts, and they delete all my comments, actually yesterday Big Brother deleted my account in an American political forum, only because I left a comment against the Zionist apartheid! Newsweek has deleted my account 7 times, YouTube and Google have suspended my accounts many many times, too, and VT is the last American website that has not done so.
      If the USA was a democracy, the opposite voices would have an opportunity to be expressed, but Google always censors them! Do you remember the American marine that was “jailed” after criticizing the disgraceful withdrawal of America from Afghanistan? This is the American democracy? Thanks then, I don’t want that.
      10 thousand Jews and 380,000 to 1 million Christians are already living in Iran, and they have no problem if you stop listening to the Iranophobic propaganda of your media. I have some friends that write against religion on their weblogs and they are living in Iran, and I’ve never seen they face any problems because of their remarks.
      Thanks to the Zionists, the number of the Iranian media that write against Iran is more than those who write for it, (and they are paid by America of course). And just FYI we have some politicians in Iran that have hostility with Iran even more than your politicians (!!!), and they express their opinions publicly, and none of them have ever been seen in jail!

    • NewtRallyt, I recommend you to watch ” مستند فروشنده 1 و 2 و 3″, specifically the third documentary.
      Don’t forget that the terrorist Saudi regime is fighting with Yemen on behalf of America and Israel, if Quincy has published some articles about ending the war in Yemen, it doesn’t mean that Quincy is not a Zionist think tank, the rest of its articles prove that. And Trita Parsy is as mullah appeaser as Masih Poolinejad is! Lol.

    • NewtRallyt, guess what?
      “Initial funding for Quincy, launched in November 2019, included half a million dollars each from George Soros’ Open Society Foundations and Charles Koch’s Koch Foundation.” Wikipedia reads.
      If George Soros is not a Zionist and “likudnik”, then who is? Did you know that George Soros in and of himself has spent against Iran as much as a government?

    • Irani you missed both of the points I was making:
      1 Quincy just like all Washington is zio infested. Try to show me one in Washington which is not. I won’t hold my breath.

      2 In that 100% zio infestation Quincy adopts a no war approach.

      Dozens of anti war writers have nothing to do with the right wing fascist Likud. That’s the distinction.
      Another difference is that Likud and other right wing war-hawks are the only people who label Trita a mullah appeaser and that’s strictly for his no war stance. It’s a label to discredit. That’s all.

      And since you mentioned it, Alinejad is Pompeo’s ho. She wants war.

    • Lol you even missed that ! No, Soros is a leftie a liberal not a right winger Likud pos.

      And it’s funny that you didn’t know how both of those guys were approached by the anti war people and so they came together to put the money to push a no war approach to the problems of the world.

    • NewtRallyt, Open Society is an expert in holding color revolution in other countries, because their approach is different you can’t say they are not as a$$hole as the hawks like Pompeo, what you say is like one says a murderer who kills others by poison is better than the one who kills by a gun or knife, a murderer is a murderer no matter how he kills his victims, We don’t have such a thing as good Zionist and bad Zionist, they are all evil.
      I recommend you to watch “مستند خارح از دید 2”, too. Soft war is not so better than an actual war, at least in a war you can recognize the enemy’s front, and stealing people’s soul is worse than killing them.

    • Some people are still in denial in the US as to free speech. The US is one of the most stringent anti-free speech countries in the world. Speak out about Israel and see what that gets you. BDS is rampant, even though it is a fact that it is unconstitutional. This is governmentally induced violation of the constitution at the behest of a foreign country. This is free speech? Try to write an editorial about the abuses of Israel as see how far that goes. We may not be a dictatorship, but we damn sure are not free sovereign country either…we have an owned plutocracy, period. The best thing in Putin’s address? That the end of US oligarchs is at hand. This is true and is going to be painful beyond beyond our wildest dreams. Whether Assange is for real or not, look at the battle there, this is free speech too? Free speech in the US is real, as long as you stay within the lines. The
      ‘lines’ are for marking fake news, but whose? If there was real free speech, the US as a whole would be aware that Ukr is losing bad, we started this shit and every bit of blowback is self-inflicted. But,we as a nation, don’t, do we? We do not have free speech, just because we are told we do. Ask those web sites that are blocked due to the US gov. Look at the de-monetization of any site that is contrary to US BS. Free speech?

    • While I would classify the US as an oligarchy, not a dictatorship, the difference is rhetorical. These so-called think tanks are psyop orgs. They all have the same Zionist goal, period. Those that say they are anti-war, their machinations say that is a lie. All their actions are in the direction of confrontation, leading to violence or war. Setting the stage for said conflict is just as culpable as those firing the weapons. The difference is that they try to hide behind a facade of respectability, while they continue their subversion. They control the left/right paradigm and have tailored it to suit their goals. There is no more left, there is no more right. There is only the facade which is used to baffle with bullshit the people. In truth, there is only authoritarianism. Soros is a great example. Hailed as a SJW, he is in reality an instigator of unrest. As the foil to Trump, his value was not understated. Polarization/division was the goal and was achieved. BLM was compromised very early into a provocateur org, to give Trumpsters a reason for being. Well done. Just don’t look at their history, as that is telling. People cannot see that Soros world-wide involvement in these color revolutions is going on here, right now and that the US is the fattest target yet? People need to ask themselves; If there is a left and right in the US, why do they all agree, sooner or later, on all the major decisions? Look at Russian, Venezuelan, Cuban, Iranian, Yemeni, Chinese and Syrian sanctions. All lockstep.

    • zman there is no left and right, there is no free anything. The money available from philanthropist to go to so many “noble sources” and ideas are extracted by people who suck up any source of $$$ for survival.
      There is only discussions and deals $$$.

      As always you people lose the sight of $$$ and stick to ideology.

      Soros is a sore ass right now but he gets it.

      Land of the free has always been land of the fee and people still get emotional. Those who don’t are advancing their miserable causes.

      Irani even that chingooz Ahmadinejad (husband and wife with PHDs) the street sweeper of Tehran, was able to understand that.
      Lookup how he embraced the rich and powerful Neturei Karta. If that doesn’t tell you something …

    • I don’t know what is pending moderation for you but mine is also pending since Saturday but it’s a rap song by Brother Ali Uncle Sam Goddamn. Listen to it and see if it’s not all about money.

      I watched the three parts of JCPOA that you sent and I have to tell you that a lot of it is borderline lost in translation as the way Iranians and US negotiate is like the Rashti who was putting spoons of yogurt in the Khazar Sea and a passerby watching it asks what are you doing ? He says I’m making doogh ! The passerby says that it will never become doogh. The Rashti says yes I know but imagine if it does, it will be a lot !

      After thirty years of war the two countries are just beginning to understand each other and it’s a rude awakening.

      A few things in the three part clips are very true that people should understand.
      Someone said Arabs are businessmen and business minded very different from Iranians. That’s true.
      Another part about the architects of sanctions now put to work because of knowing how to undo them is also very true.

      Trump and republicans really messed up everything from the very 2015 onwards for the hate that they had and have for Obama.