QWhen Air Force One lands in Saudi Arabia on July 16, the President of the United States knows what he will have to do: eat his hat. Because Joe Biden, campaigning in 2020, had promised himself, if he acceded to the White House, to treat Riyadh as an outcast – in short, to keep this capital at a distance and to show “kind negligence” to his address. , as we say in American diplomatic jargon.
These prejudices go back to the Jamal Khashoggi affair, still in everyone’s memory in Washington. A Saudi dissident refugee in the United States, Khashoggi was strangled to death, then his body dismembered by saw, in 2018, at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul. He had gone to Turkey to regularize identity papers. CIA verdict: the murder was ordered, at the very least approved, by the strong man of Riyadh, Crown Prince Mohammed Ben Salman.
Since then, Biden had again sworn to speak only to King Salman in person, never to his impulsive offspring, “MBS”, responsible for seven years of an atrocious war in Yemen and fierce repression inside.
After all, the United States has the means, in oil and gas, to no longer depend on the black gold of the Gulf, in particular the fabulous Saudi reserves. Linked to the “House of Saud” for eighty years, they are more than ever the guarantors of the kingdom’s security. Finally, in the fight against regional expansionism and Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Riyadh is, here again, obligated to Washington. Conclusion ? Like Barack Obama, of whom he was vice-president, Joe Biden, in the name of human rights, no longer wants to silence the reservations that his old Saudi ally inspires in him.
Like a bad wind of sand
Only here, the situation has changed, carrying away, like a bad wind of sand, the promises of the candidate Biden. Washington urgently needs Riyadh today. A few months before the mid-term legislative elections, at the beginning of November, inflation must be brought down, and in particular the price of gasoline at the pump – which implies that Saudi Arabia is committed to producing more oil. . Facilitating the European embargo on Russian hydrocarbons, another objective of the United States, also leads to soliciting an increase in Saudi production. Such are the domestic American imperatives and those of the battle that the United States is waging to counter Russian imperialism in Ukraine.
But to get all this, you have to talk to “MBS”, the one who decides in Riyadh and who is likely to be at the head of the kingdom until the end of the century. Reality often has this unpleasant way of imposing itself and, in this case, it abuses the moral concerns of the candidate Biden – his desire to distance himself from a Saudi theocracy with the tyrannical profile of the most pronounced. Hence the trip to Arabia, during which the American president will meet with a number of Arab leaders among the most autocratic: another bad blow from “reality”!
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