Jeddah talks reflect differing viewpoints - GulfToday

Jeddah talks reflect differing viewpoints


Mohammed Bin Salman.

It was a different kind of a summit from the usual ones, where unanimity is the final verdict whatever the simmering differences. As United States President Joe Biden reached Saudi Arabia after his visit to Israel, where the two countries reached a common point to prevent Iran getting a nuclear bomb, at Jeddah, President Biden heard clear Arab voices which were not in complete consonance with the United States.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman made it clear that the country cannot exceed 13 million barrels per day production, and he also reminded American president of the imperatives of climate change challenges which every developing country is forced to keep in mind.

The other countries apart from Saudi Arabia who participated in the summit include Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.

King Hussein of Jordan reminded the American president the need to establish a Palestinian state on status quo ante of June 4, 1967, and Egyptian President Al-Fattah Al-Sisi again struck the note on the Palestinian issue.

President Biden said that the United States will remain engaged in the Middle East, and noted the fact that for the first time, the United States was not engaged in a war, nor were its troops present in the region.

He announced, “Let me state clearly that the United States is going to remain an active engaged partner in the Middle East. As the world grows more competitive and the challenges we face more complex, it is becoming clear to me how closely interwoven America’s interests are with the success of the Middle East.”

The American president was constrained to observe that the region was more united before as in the case of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). He said, “To rebuild trust and deliver results, and we will operate in the context of the Middle East as it is today, a region more united than it has been for years, the GCC is the prime example of that.”

There Arab leaders did not spell it out but they have let the American president know of the US-Israel resolve to stop Iran from getting the nuclear bomb.

Most Arab states in the Gulf are opposed to Iran’s nuclear weapons programme, and they would have liked the United States to partner with GCC to strategise against Iran instead of forging an undeclared alliance with Israel against Iran.

To counter this move as it were, the Saudi Crown Prince has appealed to Iran to cooperate with the Arab states and not interfere in the regional affairs.

The summit showed that the Arab states and the United States remain close, but the Arab leaders feel free to state their views candidly as did the Jordanian king and the Egyptian president on the question of Palestine.

Saudi Arabia has also shown that it would not be pushed around by the United States or other European powers now that Western sanctions against Russia created fuel shortages and pushed up oil prices.

Honest differences between the United States and the Arab states does not mean there is a rift between the two.

The relationship is much more mature now than it was before. The Arab leaders will speak their mind, and the Western leaders have to take note of the views expressed by the Arab leaders. It is not a one-way street.

President Biden seems to have sensed the change in the atmosphere and his remarks reflected his acknowledgment of the changed situation.

The United States has been cavalier about its climate change commitments, while the Arab states take the issue seriously and their public policy is geared with climate change in mind.

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