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Biden’s Middle East pledge couldn’t have come at a better time

“We are not going to withdraw from the Middle East and let the vacuum be filled by China, Russia or Iran.”  

With these clear and strong words, President Joseph R. Biden assured Arab and Israeli leaders that the United States continues to view the region as indispensable and that America will stay focused on defending its friends and upholding its shared ideals.  

For months, the Biden administration has focused on combating the growing geopolitical influence of China and Russia’s war in Ukraine. Would everything else, including human rights, take a back seat?  

The thought leaders in Biden’s foreign-policy wing — national security advisor Jake Sullivan, secretary of state Tony Blinken and Central Intelligence Agency director Bill Burns — brilliantly reconciled the crises in Ukraine and the China threat with the values of universal rights. They did this by seeking to restore the lost trust between the United States and Middle Eastern countries by hearing their frustration as security threats multiplied — caused by Iran and its proxies in Yemen, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. Also, they acknowledged the social changes that are roiling Arab lands as they modernize their societies, admitting that patience was needed.   

“In Israel, where the country’s president greeted him as ‘Brother Joseph’ at the airport, Biden showed his strong support for its increased integration into the Middle East,” according to Politico. “Biden also reiterated his unflinching support for Israel’s security, vowing to back the country against an increasingly aggressive Iran that inches toward a nuclear weapon. Should a return to the nuclear deal America abandoned in 2018 fail, Biden committed to using force as a ‘last resort’ to stop Tehran from acquiring the bomb.”

The Biden administration fully embraced the Abraham Accords. These agreements allow Israel to fully integrate into the region’s economy and culture while enabling Arab nations to access Israeli technology, investment and expertise 

Biden came to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia looking for solutions to one of the main problems facing the world — skyrocketing gas prices — and inflation. Biden got a promise from the Saudis to double oil to 26 million barrels per day by 2027, up from some 12 million barrels today. In exchange, Biden made several security guarantees and implicitly acknowledged the perils posed by Iran to the region. 

Other vital decisions made by Biden, alongside Arab and Israeli leaders, deserve more attention:  

– Saudi Arabia is opening its airspace to commercial aircraft flying to and from Israel. This will dramatically reduce flight hours, trim fuel costs and shrink CO2 emissions. 

– Saudi Arabia’s plan to invest strategically in projects aligned with the goals of the U.S Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment. This mobilizes hundreds of billions of dollars to fund sustainable infrastructure, which makes a difference in the lives of people around the world and strengthens and diversifies supply chains, while creating new opportunities for American workers and businesses. 

- Israel, India, the United Arab Emirates and the U.S. came together to form “I2U2,” a vast partnership to contain China’s growing influence while enabling new private and public investments across a large swathe of the globe. 

Biden’s visit was hailed as “a triumph of realism over idealism.” Now comes the hard work of execution, making the agreements a reality in U.S. policy or law. This must be done quickly and efficiently away from political quarrels or the distractions of the coming midterms. 

Once these partnerships are made real, America’s leadership, in the region and the world, will be restored. 

Ahmed Charai is a publisher of The Jerusalem Strategic Tribune. He’s on the board of directors for the Atlantic Council, a board of Trustees for The International Crisis Group in Washington. 

This post has been amended from an earlier version.

Tags Abraham Accords Antony Blinken Bill Burns gas prices Iran–United States relations Jake Sullivan Joe Biden Middle East Middle East Policy Politics of the United States

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File - A Chevrolet Bolt is displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. Electric vehicles are far less reliable than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, mainly because most automakers are still learning how to build a completely new power system, according to this year's auto reliability survey by Consumer Reports.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
File - A Chevrolet Bolt is displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. Electric vehicles are far less reliable than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, mainly because most automakers are still learning how to build a completely new power system, according to this year's auto reliability survey by Consumer Reports.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

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In this photo released by the Governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev telegram channel, a rescuer gestures as he helps people during an evacuation after storm and flooding in Sevastopol, Crimea, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. A storm in the Black Sea took down power grids and left almost half a million people without power after it flooded roads, ripped up trees and damaged buildings in Crimea, Russian state news agency Tass said. (Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhayev's telegram channel via AP)
In this photo released by the Governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev telegram channel, a rescuer gestures as he helps people during an evacuation after storm and flooding in Sevastopol, Crimea, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. A storm in the Black Sea took down power grids and left almost half a million people without power after it flooded roads, ripped up trees and damaged buildings in Crimea, Russian state news agency Tass said. (Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhayev's telegram channel via AP)

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