As the Middle East slips from the once iron grip of the collective West’s Washington-based empire, the Biden administration chooses to focus on the least productive goal possible; Saudi-Israeli normalization.
The recently announced expansion of the BRICS, adding 6 new nations to its alliance – including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Iran – signals that the Middle East no longer seeks to remain under the thumb of the United States. Although Washington has certainly taken action and placed an additional 6,000 troops in West Asia, it is proving incapable of preventing successive blows to its hegemony.
On Thursday, two days after talks at the BRICS summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, 6 new nations were officially offered to join the alliance, this included Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Iran, Argentina, Egypt, and Ethiopia. The alliance, originally formed in 2009, has consisted of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa; since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, the alliance has emerged center stage as the Global South-styled counter-Western alliance. Although some nations in the alliance are still cooperating with the collective West, it is notable that both Moscow and Beijing – which pull a lot of weight in BRICS – have adopted an agenda to expand the alliance at a time when the “East” vs. “West” feud is at a boiling point.
As of January 1, 2024, BRICS will become an 11-nation alliance, something undoubtedly viewed as a challenge in Washington, specifically when it comes to their position of power in the Middle East. During the reign of the administration of US President, Joe Biden, the American empire has been dealt blow after blow in West Asia. With the start of the war in Ukraine, when the collective West attempted – and has so far failed – to cripple Russia economically, the Biden administration was struck with a disaster scenario during its withdrawal from Afghanistan.
After 20 years of war in Afghanistan, the propping up of a puppet regime, and the expenditure of at least 2.313 trillion dollars there, in August of 2021 the United States government ordered its armed forces to withdraw completely from the country. The subsequent retreat from Kabul by the US-backed Afghan government and the Taliban’s takeover of the nation, spelled disaster for an American empire that invaded to remove the Taliban and after 20 years the Taliban returned. The disastrous videos of Afghans who were connected with or worked with the US, grabbing hold of the exterior of the final aircraft to depart Kabul, played out as a horror story domestically in the United States, but also sent shockwaves throughout the region.
Although the US has not withdrawn its forces from Syria and Iraq, it has come under immense pressure to do so and the excuse to remain has only been based upon the claim that their forces are contributing an effort to rid the region of Daesh. In 2020, former US President, Donald Trump, stated that the US armed forces had destroyed 100% of Daesh, a claim that policymakers in Washington have worked hard on to roll back.
Notably, since the beginning of the war in Ukraine in 2022, the Biden administration has spent in excess of one hundred billion in aid to Kiev. This focus on Eastern Europe has undoubtedly undermined the strength of Washington’s Middle East policy. Not only has the American government de-prioritised its relations with its traditional allies in the region – with the exception of the Zionist Entity – but it continues to push policy goals that are all but irrelevant to its regional ambitions.
Back in March, the world was shocked by the announcement that China had managed to broker Saudi-Iranian rapprochement. The fact that Beijing proved capable of bringing together the two nations, without any say from Washington, proved to be a slap to the Biden administration and demonstrated the irrelevance of the US at that time. Later, the Chinese government would create a push towards adopting the position of the new Palestine-“Israel” middle-man, encroaching again on territory that was seemingly that of the US just years ago.
Specifically in the case of Riyadh, which was one of the strongest US allies in the region, its relations with the Biden White House have clearly not been on their usual track. The Saudis decided to ignore multiple calls from the US government to alter oil production, making Joe Biden appear as an insignificant leader when he traveled to the Kingdom in 2022. Saudi Arabia has been integral to the US mission that is geared towards damaging the Islamic Republic of Iran, working to use the Saudis as a kind of proxy to combat Tehran’s influence throughout the region.
An article published for Foreign Policy, by Stephen A. Cook, a senior fellow for Middle East and Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations – a New York-based Think Tank – demonstrates the Americentric view taken over in the US, when it comes to what the definition of de-escalation truly is. The article, entitled ‘Saudi-Iranian Rapprochement Has Failed to Bring De-escalation’, shares that “from Syria to Israel’s borders to the Strait of Hormuz, Iranian de-escalation is nowhere to be found”. What this shows is that the definition of de-escalation is entirely based upon biased American policy goals. The US has whipped up tensions between Riyadh and Tehran, encouraged and backed the devastating war in Yemen, then according to the ideology of think-tank fellows like Cook, the only means of judging the success of Saudi-Iranian rapprochement, are the lack of responses from Tehran to US agitation in the Persian Gulf, the protection of the Zionist regime’s mythical undeclared borders and the lack of responses to US aggression in Syria.
In fact, it appears as if Saudi Arabia’s restoration of ties has made some headway towards de-escalation regionally, a kind of de-escalation that is mutually beneficial to all – except the US and the Israelis. That being the restoration of ties with the Syrian government, the search towards a solution in Yemen – although this has failed, the fighting is still on pause – and the calming of tensions between Saudi-backed groups and Iranian allies regionally. When it comes to Syria, there can be no peace so long as the US illegally occupies a third of the country and maintains its criminal sanctions. In the Gulf region, the US continually agitates and hence suffers Iranian retaliation. When it comes to the Zionist regime, the security of its imaginary borders does absolutely nothing for the region, in fact the existence of the entity is counter to the stability of the Middle East.
Now that the UAE and Saudi Arabia are joining hands with those belonging to the BRICS alliance, they signal that their own ambitions are to operate as regional powers that do not completely depend upon the United States. As for Iran, its joining of the alliance will further signal the complete failure of US sanctions to bring the Islamic Republic to its knees. The Biden administration understands that Tehran is not going to fall, despite its attempts to achieve this, and is making headway towards brokering a return to the 2015 Nuclear Deal.
As the Middle East slips from the once iron grip of the collective West’s Washington-based empire, the Biden administration chooses to focus on the least productive goal possible; Saudi-Israeli normalization. For “Tel Aviv” and Riyadh to normalize relations, there will need to be a number of things in place in order for that to occur. Firstly, a massive concession, or a number of concessions, must be handed over to the Saudis by the US. Secondly, the Israelis have to be kept under control, which is certainly not happening right now under the current extremist cabinet of Benjamin Netanyahu. Then, there are other considerations, like achieving a nuclear deal with Tehran, to try and neutralize the Iranian response to a Saudi-Israeli deal; something that may not work anyway.
Other than a photo-op and providing the “crowning foreign policy achievement” to Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, but most importantly Joe Biden, the deal has no real practical benefit for the US government’s agenda. The only possible plus that could come from this, from an American policymaker’s perspective, is that Saudi-Iranian relations could again fall apart, which places more strain on both Tehran and Riyadh.
Instead of providing new opportunities and paving the way towards a new vision for the region, the US Biden administration pretends as if there has been no shift. It also pretends as if it can get away with Saudi-Israeli normalization without any significant backlash, one element of which could come in the form of strain on its crucial relationship with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Even frequent mention of the idea of “Tel Aviv” and Riyadh signing onto a normalization deal, demonstrates the delusion of the US empire. While the BRICS alliance emerges, Biden seeks a photo-op with Mohammed Bin Salman to his left and Benjamin Netanyahu to his right.