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The Middle East has taken center stage this week as oil prices continue to soar and Western nations seek to boycott Moscow over its deadly invasion of Ukraine.
But attempts by the Biden administration to enlist support from oil-rich countries to help Ukraine and counter pump prices have been met with resistance, the result of what some see as a long-standing mistrust of the United States from countries like Saudi Arabia and the United States. Arab Emirates (UAE).
According to recent reports, President Biden was rebuffed by leaders of both nations when he attempted to arrange calls with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates.
The White House National Security Council (NSC) strongly pushed back against the reports, with spokeswoman Emily Horne telling Fox News: “This is a misinterpretation and does not reflect reality. It does not there are no rejected appeals, period.”
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In addition, the Secretary of State Antoine Blinken last week played down the suggestion that the Biden administration has been snubbed by major oil nations in the Middle East by saying, “We all talk regularly.”
However, the complex relationship between the United States and the oil-rich Gulf countries dates back decades and has been influenced by geopolitical policies concerning everything from oil embargoes in the 1970s to the suspension of arms in the midst of the crisis. present in Yemen.
“In the Middle East, and especially in Arab society, relationships matter. The last thing you want to be is a fair-weather friend,” said Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon official who advised the military on issues relating to Iran and Iraq under the George W. Bush administration, Fox News Digital told Fox News Digital.
“And from the start, [Team] Biden has defined himself as a fair weather friend.”
Upon taking office, President Biden not only promised to end the war in Yemen, which has resulted in one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises with hundreds of thousands dead and millions displaced, but said that it would stop supplying arms to Saudi Arabia.
The war in Yemen began in 2014 when Shia Houthi rebels backed by Iran tried to overthrow the government.
In 2015, under Barack Obama, the United States began arming Sunni Arab states like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which supported the Yemeni government. But the massive casualties and humanitarian crisis prompted the United States to limit its military support to the Saudi campaign in 2016.
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That decision was reversed in 2017 under the Trump administration, and US arms sales to Saudi Arabia increased by more than 40%, according to the International Institute for Weapons Transfers Database. Stockholm Peace Research.
Biden’s administration largely mirrors that of the Obama White House to include Domestic Policy Council Director Susan Rice, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and NSC adviser Jake Sullivan. The president also said he would revert to the policies of the previous Democratic administration.
The White House did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment on the nature of the relationship of the former Obama administration and current Biden administration officials with leaders of oil-rich countries in the Middle East.
“This war must end,” Biden said in a February 2021 speech. “And to underscore our commitment, we are ending all U.S. support for offensive operations in the war on Yemen, including corresponding arms sales .”
Biden then frustrated members of his own party with a decision in November to sell $650 million in defensive aid to the Saudi government as he continues to be beaten by Houthi forces.
The administration justified its decision by saying it would continue to prioritize human rights while working with important partners in the region.
But some foreign policy experts have argued that the United States’ tumultuous relationship with the Gulf states is rooted in decisions made under the Obama administration when then-national security adviser Susan Rice gave priority to human rights rather than geopolitical ties.
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“There’s an element where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” Rubin told Fox News Digital. “The Saudis wouldn’t be the first to complain about Susan Rice.”
Rubin argued that while several of Rice’s decisions in the Middle East have put a bad taste in the mouths of Gulf countries, “I don’t think it can be attributed to one person.”
“You have a situation where progressives may want to put pressure on Abu Dhabi and Riyadh because of human rights abuses, but they really need to step back and ask themselves if we’re not throwing the baby out with the water. bath”, Rubin added. “Because if we force the Saudis and the Emirates into the arms of Beijing, it will be much more difficult to defend human rights than today.”
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China’s grip in the Middle East has grown in recent years as relations with the West have grown strained.
Although some relations have improved under the Trump administration’s Abraham Accords, which normalized ties between Israel and Muslim nations like Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Sudan, Beijing’s influence in the region remained.
“It’s a systemic problem in Washington. We tend to think of our relationship as always bilateral,” said Rubin, who is also a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. “But we’re not the only players in the sandbox.”
“It’s not just a Democratic or Republican thing.”
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Saudi Arabia supported the US war in Afghanistan after 9/11 and later during the Iraq war, but Rubin argued there was a level of disregard for Saudi concerns under the George W. Bush administration.
“The Saudis were afraid for sectarian reasons that we were going [to] …basically opened Pandora’s box and to some extent they were right,” Rubin said. “At the same time, under Obama, the Saudis think we don’t take their concerns about Iran seriously. And remember today that they are hit by Iranian drones flying from Iraq, from Yemen.”
US relations with Iran have also significantly affected US relations with other prominent players in the region.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates strongly opposed then-Secretary of State John Kerry’s nuclear deal with Iran in 2015.
During the election campaign, Donald Trump vowed to abandon the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and eventually withdrew the United States from the agreement in 2018.
Following the advance of Iran’s nuclear program, the governments of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia said they supported the Biden administration’s attempts to end Iran’s nuclear program, but demanded to be involved in this round of negotiations and called for stricter parameters from Tehran.
“Saudi Arabia is not interested in hindering or blocking the ongoing negotiations…It is interested in ensuring their success by effectively achieving the desired results,” Saudi Ambassador to the United States Rayd Krimly said in a statement. April 2021 as the Biden White House sought to restart negotiations with Iran.
The United States has turned to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to boost oil production as the United States and its Western allies have moved to boycott Moscow’s oil amid the president’s war Russian Vladimir Putin in Ukraine.
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The United Arab Emirates said last week that it supports increased oil production to ease tensions in the global market, but it remains unclear whether it will be able to convince the Organization of Exporting Countries oil company (OPEC) led by Saudi Arabia to accede to calls from the United States.
“These countries have long memories,” Rubin said. “So mistreating the Saudis and not expecting a response is wishful thinking.”