Biden, the Middle East and squaring the circle

Joe Biden flies to the Middle East this week. However, he is not short of challenges. It will leave Washington with a host of problems it cannot shake off. And there he will deal mainly with world peace. The man obviously likes to cause trouble.

Times in the White House are tough. The means that fueled the summer’s big excitement — the Supreme Court’s repeal of abortion rights — is making life easier for few: a presidential decree signed on Friday guaranteeing access to the abortion pill and emergency contraception.

Health Secretary Xavier Becerra has also been charged with the mission of preparing future litigation, but since he himself has recognized that there is no “magic bullet” for restoring abortion in the United States, this does not bode well.

As for the rest, we turn from disappointment to discouragement: inflation should hit 9% this month; as firearms still circulate freely, mass shootings are increasing; and the sanctions against Russia, which are presented in a sovereign manner every time, do not prevent Vladimir Putin’s armies from destroying everything in their path and winning in eastern Ukraine.


President Biden will therefore first go to Israel as a distraction, then to the Red Sea coast in Saudi Arabia. In fact, to use an expression so dear to my mother, he will rather use it to “take the evil to another place”: the evil remains, it’s just elsewhere.

First, he will want to reassure the Israelis about the threat Iran poses to the region. After Donald Trump tore up the agreement he had signed with Tehran to shape his nuclear program, his successor’s only option is to remind the Jewish state of the unconditional support of the United States for its security due to the lack of progress in the negotiations. .

The US President will also travel the twenty kilometers that separate Jerusalem from Ramallah in the West Bank to reaffirm to the Palestinians another commitment of his administration: commitment to a two-state solution, Palestinians and Israelis living peacefully side by side. The chances of this happening? None but looks good.


In Jeddah, with the leaders of the Persian Gulf monarchies, we are told a heavy agenda: Iran, Yemen, Israel. However, no one doubts that in the midst of an oil supply crisis and with gas prices at all-time highs, Joe Biden will demand more production from his hosts.

Which finally gives this whole trip the semblance of catch-up diplomacy: first picking up the pots Trump smashed with Iran — without even trying to glue them back together — and then telling the Palestinians we won’t forget them, even if those of Trump hatched the Abraham Accords.

Then Biden will have to beg for more oil with one hand and shake that of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom he has promised to pariah over the gruesome murder of Jamal Khashoggi, with the other. As Piton said, it’s not going to be easy… even for the President of the United States.

From Jerusalem to Jeddah, July 13-16, 2022


AFP photos and courtesy, Wikipedia

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