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Biden’s Bittersweet Middle East Tour

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Biden’s first Middle East tour marks a major effort to robust previously outlined courses of action. The trip, which began in Israel, served as a tool for Jerusalem to see the White House as an ally in the face of heightened threats growing in the Middle East, thanks in large part to the United States’ responsibility.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid was Biden’s host and the Jewish state even ended up recognizing Biden for his support of the Zionist cause. President Isaac Herzog awarded Biden the Medal of Honor. In the midst of the talks, Biden praised the Abraham Accords, in a first wink at Trump’s significant achievements in the Middle East. 

On Iran, Biden was rather weak and earned criticism from former Prime Minister and perhaps Israel’s most powerful personality, Benjamin Netanyahu. Biden somehow insists on striking a deal with the Iranian theocracy and completely departs from a tough foreign policy against the ayatollahs. Netanyahu, who met with Biden shortly before Herzog awarded him the Medal of Honor, told the press that the American president should keep “a credible military option” against Iran on the table. Otherwise, it would all remain pure rhetoric.

Biden’s diplomatic achievements in Israel faded when he went to Bethlehem, the Palestinian city inside the West Bank, to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The problem is not the meeting, but the implicit recognition of the whims of an authoritarian leader who, at heart, would like the destruction of Israel. Biden announced that he would give millions in aid to the Palestinians, which will inevitably end up in the hands of Israel’s enemies. 

After Israel, Biden made history by becoming the first American president to take a flight from Tel Aviv to Jeddah, west of Riyadh, where he met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. As Biden said, he reproached Salman for the murder of U.S.-based Saudi journalist, Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Although Biden promised on the campaign trail that he would never make such a visit and that he considered Saudi Arabia a pariah regime, his contradiction is a tacit acknowledgment of former President Trump’s efforts to solidify an alliance with Saudi Arabia. 

From his visit to Jeddah and his meetings with the Saudi monarchy, Biden touts as achievements a commitment to increased oil production and an alignment of Saudi Arabia with Israel’s interests (especially in the face of the threat posed by Iran). This willingness was concretized in Saudi Arabia’s decision to open its airspace to flights to and from Israel.

In short, it was a bittersweet trip that left some achievements, but deepened other tensions. At least Biden ratified that he recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and further aligned Riyadh to the Jewish cause.

Orlando Avendaño is the co-editor-in-chief of El American. He is a Venezuelan journalist and has studies in the History of Venezuela. He is the author of the book Days of submission // Orlando Avendaño es el co-editor en Jefe de El American. Es periodista venezolano y cuenta con estudios en Historia de Venezuela. Es autor del libro Días de sumisión.

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