Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia did not go as planned. Saudi Arabia will temporarily increase oil production in July and August in exchange for a slew of removed restrictions. Civilian aircrafts from Israel will be permitted to fly over Saudi Arabia. Peacekeepers will be removed from Tiran Island, where US soldiers have been stationed since the late 1970s. Five Americans were killed in a helicopter crash over this region in 2020, but intel swears it had nothing to do with terrorism. Tiran Island will now be redeveloped into a tourist destination, although I am unsure how eager the general public will be to visit.
Per usual, Biden pledged to give a foreign nation tons of money to develop their infrastructure while leaving America in the dust. This will be done through support for the US Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII), which was announced at the last G7 summit. The US will also help Saudi Arabia deploy 5G technology and expand internet access.
Humorously, Biden welcomed the Partnership Framework for Advancing Clean Energy to help Saudi Arabia “transition and combat the effects of climate change.” Oil is the Saudi’s bread and butter, and building green energy infrastructure is likely not a promise that will be kept.
Both the left and right are angry with the president for grappling at the feet of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Bernie Sanders slammed Biden for visiting Saudi Arabia. “If this country believes in anything, we believe in human rights, we believe in democracy, and I just don’t believe that we should be maintaining a warm relationship with a dictatorship like that,” Sanders said. Biden maintained that he spoke to the crown prince about the death of Khashoggi at the top of the meeting, but the crown prince maintained innocence and said to tread lightly when interfering in alleged human rights abuses.
Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, explained it well. “The Crown Prince pointed out to President Biden that we the kingdom, the respect for human rights is a core value for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia based on our Islamic beliefs and our Arab heritage. And that it’s absolutely important that values be spread through dialogue. Trying to impose your values on others is not going to be effective. It will get you a negative reaction. … The right way to try and put your values forward is to show the world that you adhere first of all to those values, that you are respecting your own values.”
Basically, Saudi Arabia is going to continue operating as it sees fit and has the leverage to negotiate lucrative deals since the US is unwilling to drill. “In the end you cannot impose your values by force. … The Crown Prince was quite clear with President Biden, and we have our own values and those are not going to align 100% with US values ever because we are very, very proud of our own traditions, our own values, our own faith,” bin Farhan said.
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