A special day for the Abraham Accords, but a bad day for journalism and human rights.
At least that’s one way to look at US President Joe Biden’s trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia, a visit that will also take in a meeting in the occupied West Bank with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority leader.
It’s not the way Biden sees it.
The trip – coming on the background of much Washington tut-tutting over the reentry into the fold of Saudi crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman, whom the CIA has blamed for the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi – is a chance to start a “new and more promising chapter of America’s engagement there,” Biden wrote in a recent Washington Post opinion piece.
One suspects the choice of medium was not accidental.
A more “secure and integrated” Middle East, the president argued, is a US strategic interest. He then goes on to suggest that the region is more stable than when he took over from Donald Trump, his predecessor.
But he is fooling nobody. The US-Saudi rapprochement his trip inevitably signals has been forced on the Biden administration by rising oil prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Unusually, the US is in a weaker negotiating position here, not least because Riyadh has played hardball on oil production and chosen a path of strategic neutrality over the Ukraine conflict….