THE SAUDI CROWN PRINCE SCRAMBLES TO BIDEN TO RETAIN THE BLANK CHEQUE GIVEN BY TRUMP
“America will never again check its principles at the door just to buy oil or sell weapons”—Joe Biden ( during campaign and now as only the President-Elect)
1.A favoured tyrant of President Trump, who encouraged or excused his reckless foreign aggressions and human rights crimes, MBS, as he is commonly known, rightly perceives that he is in jeopardy with President-elect Joe Biden, who has vowed to take away his “dangerous blank cheque”.
1.1.The result has been a flurry of actions to address long-standing U.S. grievances with Riyadh.
1.2.For the last four years, President Trump’s close relationship with Saudi Arabia meant that there was seemingly nothing its de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, could do to earn a rebuke from the White House.
1.3.In these four years,–
1.3.1.Saudi bombs killed civilians in Yemen,
1.3.2.Saudi activists went to jail, and
1.3.3.Saudi agents dismembered the dissident Saudi writer Jamal Khasoggi in Istanbul.
1.3.4.None of it shook Mr. Trump’s commitment to the kingdom as a reliable partner against Iran and an important purchaser of American weapons.
2.NOW AFTER TRUMP’S EMBRACE, SAUDIS ARE BRACING FOR A CHILLER FROM BIDEN?
2.1.Now Saudi Arabia is bracing for a new American leader who has vowed to end support for the Yemen war, penalize human rights violations and treat Saudi Arabia like “the pariah that they are.”
2.2.“It is past time to restore a sense of balance, perspective and fidelity to our values in our relationships in the Middle East,” President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. told the Council on Foreign Relations last year when asked about Saudi Arabia. “We will make clear that America will never again check its principles at the door just to buy oil or sell weapons.”
3.THE GULF TRIAD SCURRIES TO LIFT THE BLOCKADE OF QATAR
3.1.This week in a summit meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council, at which Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain agreed to drop their economic blockade of Qatar, another U.S. ally.
3.2.For 3½years, the three Persian Gulf states and Egypt had tried to bully Qatar into capitulating to a long list of political demands, including severing ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and muzzling the Al Jazeera news network.
3.3.The campaign was an abject failure: Its only results were to push Qatar closer to Iran and Turkey while complicating U.S. diplomatic and security initiatives in the region.
3.4.The agreement signed by the countries looked like an abject surrender by MBS.
3.5.In exchange for a lifting of the trade and travel blockade, Qatar agreed only to drop suits for damages.
4.LOOK AT THE IRONY—TRUMP SON-IN-LAW CLAIMS CREDIT FOR THE DEAL
4.1.After all, Trump is still the US President, till Jan 20, 2021.
4.2.Jared Kushner, an MBS pal, opened a cosy back channel with the crown prince early in 2017.
4.3.Mr. Kushner was informed of the blockade in advance, according to Congressional Investigators.
4.4.He is said to be responsible for Mr. Trump’s public siding with the Saudis in the feud, despite the fact that Qatar hosts the largest U.S. military base in the Middle East.
5.US IS NOT A WEST MINISTER TYPE OF DEMOCRACY
5.1.It is not unusual to find that in the US Congress, in the Houses, the reigning President’s own party members TAKE STANDS OPPOSED TO THE PRESIDENT and even vote against some of his Bills.
5.2.This is going to repeat now in the case of US-Saudi relationship correction.
5.3.Biden, who has pledged to end U.S. support for the disastrous Saudi military intervention in Yemen and hold MBS responsible for human rights crimes, such as the murder of journalist Jamal Khasoggi , WILL FIND A LOT OF BI PARTISAN SUPPORT in the Congress.
5.4.Unlike in India, the US President or his party CANNOT issue a whip to goad the members of the Congress to his side in voting on a Bill.
6.WHY ARE SA & QATAR AT LOGGERHEADS?
6.1.It has more to do with Qatar’s aspiration to wriggle out of Saudi dominance, especially in foreign policy matters, in the Gulf Region.
6.2.There is nothing to show that the friction is due to any ideological divergence:
6.2.1.Both the countries have supported the al-Qaeda.
6.2.2.Qatar has allowed the Afghan Taliban to set up base in its territory.
6.2.3.Qatar has supported the Muslim Brotherhood.
6.3.In 2017,accusing Qatar of getting close to Iran and supporting religious radicals ( which SA also does), Saudi Arabia, along with the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain severed all diplomatic relations with Qatar and clamped an economic blockade on it; and it failed.
6.4.In January 2021, these countries have re-established the diplomatic relations.
7.WILL BIDEN BE ABLE TO PLAY BY HIS RHETORIC AS THE PRESIDENT-ELECT?
7.1.Idealism retreats when the unrelenting dynamics of realpolitik challenges Biden when he takes office.
7.2.The willingness of ABS to crawl when asked to only bend, may help smother this challenge for Biden.
7.3. The “Value System” that he kept bellowing during campaign may well be dismissed as meant to score electoral points.