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Saudi Trip Shaping Up To Be Biden's Own 'Touch The Glowing Orb' Moment

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Jun 15, 2022 - 08:40 PM

The White House has set a date for President Biden's controversial trip to "pariah" nation Saudi Arabia to meet with its de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The itinerary for the July 13-16 official trip includes an initial stop in Israel and the West Bank, before the final leg in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for a summit of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leaders.

The US administration last week touted efforts at a "reset" in relations after strained ties following the 2018 killing of Jamal Khashoggi, with Biden recently seeking to deny it's about urging the Saudis to pump more oil, stressing security-related issues and hinting an deepened Israeli-Saudi cooperation and mutual recognition. But even the longstanding defense and weapons ties between Riyadh and Washington has lately hit a bumpy road over human rights, but also the US rush to deliver Ukraine defense aid. An aptly titled piece in Financial Times dubs Biden's upcoming trip as all about "Oil vs. Human Rights".

The Saudis are said to be bitter over the immense White House defense aid propping up Ukraine over the past months since the Russian invasion in February...

"The monarchies have long looked to Washington as their traditional security partner. But in their eyes, the US was displaying scant regard to the threat their nations faced as increasingly sophisticated weapons targeted cities, airports and oil infrastructure," FT writes. "When US President Joe Biden ordered billions of dollars of armaments to Ukraine to help it fight Russia’s invasion, they saw this as further proof that Washington was not treating their longtime Gulf partners with the respect they believe they deserve."

The report comes during the same week the White House is said to be readying yet another nearly $1 billion arms transfer to Kiev, just ahead of the announced Biden trip to visit MbS.

And again, it's not really about soaring oil prices, Biden has sought to assure...

But on this point, FT's analysis concludes:

Just as Russia’s aggression has injected fresh impetus into the transatlantic alliance, it has exposed the fraying nature of the two Gulf states’ decades-long partnership with Washington and brought into sharp focus tensions over the bedrock on which it was built: US security assurances to the oil-rich nations in return for a commitment to stable global energy markets.

"The war in Ukraine has been a blessing and a curse for the Gulf. They see America is back, not checking out and can mobilize when it wants to," says Sanam Vakil, a Gulf expert at Chatham House.

But Vakil noted further: "The bad news for them is when the US mobilizes for someone else, it’s a slap in the face." Despite Biden with a straight face days ago trying to tell reporters that the trip is not about oil, but all about "national security" and defense of Israel, the U-turn on holding Saudi feet to the fire on human rights has precisely to do with the energy stability trade-off...

FT continues, "For many diplomats and observers, the Saudi visit is a sign of the enduring appeal of the energy-for-security pact that has defined the US relationship with the Gulf. Washington needs help to limit the impact of the war in Ukraine on oil prices while the Gulf states remain heavily dependent on US military assistance, from missile defenses to fighter jets."

Image: Saudi Press Agency

An official privy to US-Gulf discussions observed, "This is an opportunity for the US to reset the table . . . to make the region more comfortable and be self-aware about why their partners are concerned about the American commitment."

We should add, as Glenn Greenwald's tweets on Biden's upcoming trip suggest, this is yet another glaring example in which a much maligned Trump policy is now being belatedly adopted by Biden, and yet the mainstream media frames things very differently.

Regardless, it does appear that the Biden administration is gearing up for his own 'touch the glowing orb moment' - in the footsteps of Trump before him.

But as a reminder of what he's up against...

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