US President Joe Biden exciting visit to the region was full of events, contradictions, references and messages, as well as mistakes in protocol, especially because of the age element, which was especially obvious.
For the first time, there was a mandatory break between each meeting or event in which the president received some drugs or stimulants to help him stand up and march on.
Regardless of the above, the visit revealed several facts that will be decisive in establishing new rules for managing the region’s policies.
Decision-makers from influential Arab countries led by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, are well aware of the facts and developments that resulted from the repercussions of the Arab Spring and made them more capable and powerful in dealing with regional and international powers, but rather immunised them against what was believed to be the dictates imposed on them externally.
It has become clear that the Middle East in its current state is integral to the global system, and this was demonstrated during the Jeddah summit, which confirmed that Biden came not to set conditions or impose demands, but to respond to what these leaders say if Washington wants to have a balanced role with other international powers in that region of the world.
Biden’s statement that Israel is doing what it sees fit in the fight against Iran, and the talk about a regional alliance under American sponsorship to confront Iran annoyed some countries in the region, given that they do not want to enter into a direct confrontation with their neighbour, who lies on the other side of the shore of the Arabian Gulf.
Therefore, it was not surprising that Abu Dhabi announced a few hours before Biden’s arrival in Jeddah that it was not open to any alliance targeting Iran. Rather, it was in the process of sending an ambassador to Tehran to explore ways to revitalise bilateral relations between the two countries.
But Washington can focus not only on Iran’s nuclear programme; it should also prepare a strategy to counter Tehran’s destabilising regional behaviour, prevent Iranian weapons from reaching Iran’s proxies, and bolster the defences of the US’ allies and partners in the region, particularly against the drones and cruise and ballistic missiles of Iranian proxies.
This does not mean that the US will want Israel to act in its place, but rather a signal to Iran that Washington will act alone or with others to destroy Iran’s nuclear infrastructure if the country moves towards developing a nuclear weapon. Therefore, Iran’s leaders should view any such move as dangerous for them.
It can be said that Biden’s visit is only a step to repair the damage done to the reputation of US policy in the Arab region. This is simply an attempt to stay relevant in a new world order of other international powers that can offer all alternatives to American products at a lower price and without any complex historical or political background.
The US tried to influence Arab opinion about the Russian-Ukrainian War, but it was not expected to succeed. Even the attempt to calm Gulf states and Israel after they were concerned about the situation around Iran through the nuclear talks that were held in Vienna failed.
Gulf states have become fully aware that they must diversify their alliances in light of the American interest in Asia and the concentration of its military assets there. This is where Russia and China come in, as they have strong relations with the Arab world and the Gulf, and they have a limited military presence in the region, and they realise that it is not in their interest to align themselves with any major country against another.
The main result is that there is maturity in the relations between the Gulf and the US, and each party understands the needs and strategic interests of the other. Therefore, there is no room for accepting concessions or dealing with superiority or preference for one party over the other.
So, we are in an era of comprehensive change in which we are transitioning to a new stage in international relations that is long overdue.
* Hatem Sadek is a Professor at Helwan University.