USA: Opinion:  Why I’m going to Saudi Arabia – By Joe Biden | The Washington Post

US President Joe Biden

By Joe Biden | The Washington Post

Joe Biden is president of the United States.

Friday, I’ll travel to the Middle East to start a new and more promising chapter of America’s engagement there. This trip comes at a vital time for the region, and it will advance important American interests.

A more secure and integrated Middle East benefits Americans in many ways. Its waterways are essential to global trade and the supply chains we rely on. Its energy resources are vital for mitigating the impact on global supplies of Russia’s war in Ukraine. And a region that’s coming together through diplomacy and cooperation — rather than coming apart through conflict — is less likely to give rise to violent extremism that threatens our homeland or new wars that could place new burdens on U.S. military forces and their families.           

Avoiding that scenario is of paramount importance to me. I’ll pursue diplomacy intensely — including through face-to-face meetings — to achieve our goals.

The Middle East I’ll be visiting is more stable and secure than the one my administration inherited 18 months ago. 

One month before my inauguration, our embassy in Baghdad faced the largest rocket attack in a decade. Attacks against our troops and diplomats had increased fourfold over the preceding year. My predecessor repeatedly ordered B-52 bombers to fly from the United States to the region and back again to deter these attacks. But it didn’t work, and the attacks continued.

The war in Yemen was escalating, creating one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, with no political process in sight to end the fighting.

After my predecessor reneged on a nuclear deal that was working, Iran had passed a law mandating the rapid acceleration of its nuclear program. Then, when the last administration sought to condemn Iran for this action in the U.N. Security Council, the United States found itself ISOLATED and ALONE. 

In my first weeks as president, our intelligence and military experts warned that the region was dangerously pressurized. It needed urgent and intensive diplomacy. To restore deterrence, I ordered airstrikes in response to the attacks against our troops and began serious diplomatic outreach to bring about a more stable region.

In Iraq, we ended the U.S. combat mission and transitioned our military presence to focus on training Iraqis, while sustaining the global coalition against the Islamic State we forged when I was vice president, now dedicated to preventing ISIS from resurging. We’ve also responded to threats against Americans. The frequency of Iranian-sponsored attacks compared with two years ago has dropped precipitously. And this past February, in Syria, we took out ISIS leader Haji Abdullah, demonstrating America’s capability to eliminate terrorist threats no matter where they try to hide.

In Yemen, I named an envoy and engaged with leaders across the region, including with the king of Saudi Arabia, to lay the foundation for a truce. After a year of our persistent diplomacy, that truce is now in place, and lifesaving humanitarian assistance is reaching cities and towns that had been under siege. As a result, the past few months in Yemen have been the most peaceful in seven years. 

With respect to Iran, we reunited with allies and partners in Europe and around the world to reverse our isolation; now it is Iran that is isolated until it returns to the nuclear deal my predecessor abandoned with no plan for what might replace it. Last month, more than 30 countries joined us to condemn Iran’s lack of cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency on its past nuclear activities. My administration will continue to increase diplomatic and economic pressure until Iran is ready to return to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, as I remain prepared to do.

In Israel, we helped end a war in Gaza in just 11 days — which could easily have lasted months. We’ve worked with Israel, Egypt, Qatar and Jordan to maintain the peace without permitting terrorists to rearm. We also rebuilt U.S. ties with the Palestinians. Working with Congress, my administration restored approximately $500 million in support for Palestinians, while also passing the largest support package for Israel in history — over $4 billion. And this week, an Israeli prime minister spoke with the president of the Palestinian Authority for the first time in five years.

In Saudi Arabia, we reversed the blank-check policy we inherited. I released the intelligence community’s report on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, issued new sanctions, including on the Saudi Arabia’s Rapid Intervention Force involved in his killing, and issued 76 visa bans under a new rule barring entry into the United States for anyone found to be involved in harassing dissidents abroad. My administration has made clear that the United States will not tolerate extraterritorial threats and harassment against dissidents and activists by any government. We also advocated for American citizens who had been wrongfully detained in Saudi Arabia long before I took office. They have since been released, and I will continue to push for restrictions on their travel to be lifted. 

From the start, my aim was to reorient — but not rupture — relations with a country that’s been a strategic partner for 80 years. Today, Saudi Arabia has helped to restore unity among the six countries of Gulf Cooperation Council, has fully supported the truce in Yemen and is now working with my experts to help stabilize oil markets with other OPEC producers.

I know that there are many who disagree with my decision to travel to Saudi Arabia. My views on human rights are clear and long-standing, and fundamental freedoms are always on the agenda when I travel abroad, as they will be during this trip, just as they will be in Israel and the West Bank.

As president, it is my job to keep our country strong and secure. We have to counter Russia’s aggression, put ourselves in the best possible position to outcompete China, and work for greater stability in a consequential region of the world. To do these things, we have to engage directly with countries that can impact those outcomes. Saudi Arabia is one of them, and when I meet with Saudi leaders on Friday, my aim will be to strengthen a strategic partnership going forward that’s based on mutual interests and responsibilities, while also holding true to fundamental American values.

On Friday, I will also be the first president to fly from Israel to Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. That travel will also be a small symbol of the budding relations and steps toward normalization between Israel and the Arab world, which my administration is working to deepen and expand. In Jiddah, leaders from across the region will gather, pointing to the possibility of a more stable and integrated Middle East, with the United States playing a vital leadership role.

Of course, the region remains full of challenges: Iran’s nuclear program and support for proxy groups, the Syrian civil war, food security crises exacerbated by Russia’s war against Ukraine, terrorist groups still operating in a number of countries, political gridlock in Iraq, Libya and Lebanon, and human rights standards that remain behind much of the world. We must address all these issues. When I meet with leaders from across the region, I will make clear how important it is to make progress in these areas.

Still, compared to 18 months ago, the region is less pressurized and more integrated. Former rivals have reestablished relations. Joint infrastructure projects are forging new partnerships. Iraq, which had long been a source of proxy conflicts and regional rivalries, now serves as a platform for diplomacy, including between Saudi Arabia and Iran. My friend King Abdullah of Jordan recently referred to the “new vibe” in the region, with countries asking, “How can we connect with each other and work with each other.”

These are promising trends, which the United States can strengthen in a way no other country can. My travel next week will serve that purpose. 

Throughout my journey, I’ll have in mind the millions of Americans who served in the region, including my son Beau, and the 7,054 who died in conflicts in the Middle East and Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001.

Next week, I will be the first president to visit the Middle East since 9/11 without U.S. troops engaged in a combat mission there. It’s my aim to keep it that way.

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  • Clyde Duncan  On 07/13/2022 at 12:15 am

    Tories Awaken To The Cost Of Being Led By An Entertainer. The GOP Still Hasn’t.

    By Max Boot | The Washington Post

    EVERY STAGE OF BORIS JOHNSON’S POLITICAL PROGRESSION HAS BEEN UTTERLY LUDICROUS AND FARCICAL — and that extended to his downfall, or “clownfall”, as the Economist dubbed it.

    Suddenly, in the past few days, there was a mass exodus from the British government among cabinet ministers who professed themselves to be shocked by the prime minister’s duplicity. “A decent and responsible Government relies on honesty, integrity and mutual respect,” thundered Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis in his letter of resignation.

    Well, YES. But it’s hardly news that Johnson possesses none of those qualities. Dishonesty wasn’t a bug in the BoJo operating system, it was the system itself. “People have known that Boris Johnson lies for 30 years,” says Rory Stewart, a former Conservative member of Parliament. “He’s probably the best liar we’ve ever had as a prime minister.”

    IN THIS RESPECT, JOHNSON WAS VERY MUCH LIKE FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP. The difference, of course, is that while Trump continues to exercise an inexplicable hold on his political party, Johnson’s grip has finally been broken. The questions are:

    How could Conservatives have ignored for so long what was so blindingly obvious? And how can Republicans still stay in denial?

    Until this week, the Conservative Party chose to overlook Johnson’s pathological mendacity because he was so popular. The secret of his popularity was that he was terrifically entertaining. Like a certain orange-tinted former U.S. president, he did not present as a normal politician. He made a virtue of his lack of seriousness to make it seem as if he was just a regular bloke despite his posh background. He bumbled his way to the top.

    BUT THE JOKE WORE THIN WHEN JOHNSON ACTUALLY HAD TO GOVERN. He promised to miraculously make Britain stronger and wealthier by exiting the European Union; HE HAS ACHIEVED JUST THE OPPOSITE. Johnson’s management of the COVID pandemic was no more successful. A House of Commons committee found that Johnson “made a serious early error” by flirting with the crackpot theory that allowing people to be infected would lead to “herd immunity”. The result was “many thousands” of avoidable deaths.

    EVENTUALLY, JOHNSON INSTITUTED A STRICT LOCKDOWN, BUT HE FAILED TO ABIDE BY IT. The result was the “Partygate” scandal, as evidence emerged of Johnson and his aides illegally partying at 10 Downing Street.

    Johnson was finally felled by one scandal too many. His chief deputy whip, Chris Pincher (a name straight out of Dickens), had to resign after being caught groping men in a bar. Johnson professed shock, until it emerged that he had been informed of similar misbehavior in the past when he had brought Pincher into the Foreign Office.

    THE LESSONS OF JOHNSON’S RISE AND FALL ARE SIMPLE AND OLD-FASHIONED: Don’t treat politics as a branch of the entertainment industry; it’s too serious for that. Knowledge and competence are important in leaders; their lack is NOT a virtue. And character counts above all:

    Someone who can’t be trusted to tell the truth can’t be trusted to govern. It’s staggering that it’s taken the Tories this long to accept those basic home truths.

    A STARK CONTRAST ON THIS SIDE OF THE POND IS THAT REPUBLICANS IN THE UNITED STATES STILL HAVE NOT, even though Trump’s political sins are far more serious. Johnson did not, after all, incite a mob to ransack Parliament in order to stay in power. His offenses are political misdemeanors compared to Trump’s major felonies.

    Why, then, is the BoJo show closing while the Trump show rolls on? In part it’s because British politics is less populist and Tories are less radicalized than Republicans; there are Murdoch-owned newspapers but NO Fox “News” Channel in the U.K. It’s also because British political parties are more powerful. While Tory parliamentarians don’t choose their leader, they do winnow the field down to two candidates for a vote by the party rank and file. Even if the winner becomes prime minister, that person can be, and often is, toppled by colleagues in the cabinet and the House of Commons.

    IF THE UNITED STATES HAD A SIMILAR SYSTEM, with the Republican establishment in control of the primaries, the likely GOP nominee in 2016 would have been Jeb Bush, not Donald Trump. And if it were routine for Congress and the Cabinet to evict underperforming presidents, TRUMP MIGHT NOT HAVE LASTED LONG IN OFFICE.

    BUT OUR POLITICAL PARTIES ARE TOO WEAK AND OUR STANDARDS FOR EVICTING AN INCUMBENT ARE TOO HIGH: The president has to commit either “high crimes and misdemeanors” or be unable to discharge “the duties of his office”. OF COURSE, TRUMP DID COMMIT HIGH CRIMES AND HE WAS UNABLE TO DISCHARGE HIS DUTIES. But Republicans feared the wrath of their rabid base if they were to make him the first president ever removed under either the Constitution’s impeachment clause or the 25th Amendment. [Richard M. Nixon resigned before being impeached.]

    Now, despite everything, Trump could still make a comeback, because he retains a Svengali-like hold on the Republican base. It’s a tribute to the British political system that Boris Johnson is finally being removed from office, and a terrible indictment of the U.S. political system that Trump — who has done far worse — could still return to it.

  • Kman  On 07/22/2022 at 12:40 pm

    I wonder if sleepy Joe questioned the Israeli on their nuclear facilities and arsenal?

    I say he dare not. So much for peace!

  • wally n  On 07/22/2022 at 1:42 pm

    “Svengali-like hold on the Republican base”??????? 50% American public unable to think for themselves???But you yes you, know exactly what is “right” and what is wrong??? Try this… WIDE OPEN ELECTIONS… NO MULES… NO COMPUTERS …NO DISHONEST ELECTION OFFICIALS
    relax buddy..THEY WILL ALL FALL IN THE FALL and even democrats will vote against democrats…can’t afford Gas, Groceries,etc. Wide open borders, Criminals No jail, just walk.getting worse every day, even with MSM and idiots like you suppressing reality, misleading, US embarrassed around the world..COME ON MAN IT IS OVER…

  • wally n  On 07/22/2022 at 2:28 pm

    I almost forget, might help…why people don’t believe the election results..

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