xi's moments
Home | Middle East

Mideast assurance of US president cast aside

By JAN YUMUL in Hong Kong | China Daily | Updated: 2022-07-18 09:37

Palestinian workers clear the rubble of a building destroyed during an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City early on Saturday. MAHMUD HAMS/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Region does not need Washington to help it sort out problems, experts say

The Gulf countries are capable of strengthening the stability and security of the Middle East region and do not need the United States to maintain these, experts and analysts say.

They were responding to the Jeddah Security and Development summit that Saudi Arabia hosted on Saturday, attended by other Gulf Cooperation Council leaders Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, as well as Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and the US, led by President Joe Biden.

At the summit, participants discussed their common vision for the region, their call for Iran to fully cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, climate change and ways to keep the Gulf free of weapons of mass destruction.

They took issue with Biden saying the US would not "walk away and leave a vacuum" in the region and would build on "American leadership".

Nagapushpa Devendra, a West Asia analyst and research scholar at the University of Erfurt in Germany, said the Biden administration decided to take part in the GCC+3 summit in an attempt to change the public perception of the US role in the Middle East, especially among its allies "which have gotten so dismal in the past few years".

"The Biden administration criticizes the former (Donald Trump) government's Middle East policy rhetorically while expanding upon it in practice," Devendra said.

Kamaruzaman Bin Yusoff, a Middle East political analyst and former professor at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, said Saudi Arabia has always been at the forefront of issues affecting the Middle East and that the GCC countries would look to the Saudi government before taking any action.

Petrol issue

"The main point that I want to emphasize also is when Biden asks Saudi Arabia to increase petrol production, as we know, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is always telling everybody, including Biden, that they do not want to mix politics and business."

Saudi Arabia reportedly told US guests that it would try to slightly increase oil production before 2027.

"Because (Saudi Arabia) believes that business is under OPEC," Bin Yusoff said. "And then politics is under the pressure of the American government."

In a meeting between the US and Saudi Arabia on Friday, both countries agreed on the importance of stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. While in Israel, Biden and the Israeli caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid signed a declaration affirming their commitment to that goal.

Asif Shuja, an Iran expert and senior research fellow in the Middle East Institute of the National University of Singapore, said: "The Gulf countries, as well as Israel, have effectively realized that even though they need US support in defending themselves from grave external threats, they do not have that support in a blanket manner from the United States. They would eventually be responsible for their own actions."

Devendra said another main purpose behind Biden's trip to the Middle East is to encourage closer ties between Israel and Arab countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, and form an ad hoc military alliance aimed at integrating Israel into the regional military system. "This would push the regional stability into a quagmire and throw the Palestinian cause under the proverbial bus," Devendra said.

Abolfazl Shekarchi, a spokesman for the Iranian Armed Forces, said on Friday that the US knows it will have to atone for using the words "resorting to force" in relation to Iran.

He was responding to remarks by Biden in a TV interview that he would be open to using force against Iran to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Shekarchi said that resorting to force against Iran could also be aimed at further plundering regional countries' oil resources to slow US decline, mending its sense of grandeur and saving the US' ailing economy through selling more weapons to regional countries.

After the summit, Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said there was no such thing as an "Arabic NATO" and that talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran "have been positive", but were inconclusive. He also confirmed that "Saudi Arabia's hand is extended to Iran to achieve normal relations".

Xinhua contributed to this story.

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349