by Assal Rad, the research director of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC).
President Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia and the idea of deepening security commitments contradict his promise as a candidate to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah,” in the wake of the Saudi-led war in Yemen and the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Failing to hold Saudi accountable for clear violations of international law is inconsistent with the administration’s stated goal of upholding and leading the so-called international rules-based order. The double standards with which rules are applied to U.S. allies and adversaries undermine the entire purpose of such an order. In terms of political brinkmanship, Biden is showing weakness in allowing Saudi Arabia to pressure his administration into submission using its control over oil as leverage. Instead, Biden could have delivered on two campaign promises at once, by returning to the Iran nuclear deal, lifting sanctions and easing the burden of high oil prices by allowing Iranian oil in the global market.
Thus, Biden’s strategy represents a reversion to the failed U.S. approach of organizing the region around conflict with Iran, which ensures a permanent U.S. military presence to serve the interests of “partners” in the region, and maintains forever wars and impunity for U.S. allies. All while undermining U.S. and global security interests that would benefit from reduced tensions.