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Trump’s Arab Spring cools under Biden

Author writes that Biden's reversals in the Middle East have been counterproductive if not outright destructive

Then-U.S. President Donald Trump and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Jun. 29, 2019 (Photo: CIC Saudi Arabia/Twitter)

By shepherding the Abraham Accords for Middle East peace, former U.S. President Donald Trump achieved a legacy of which any of his predecessors would be proud. His successor, however, has taken that ball and fumbled it, resulting in several dangerous cracks with our Arab and Israeli allies, as he returns to a policy of strategic naïveté with Iran.

When Trump stormed into office, he was a bull that the D.C. establishment did not want in their china shop. It’s these overturned teacups that President Joe Biden has sought to set back on their saucers, coaxing Beltway dowagers to un-clutch their pearls. If “Orange Man Bad,” then everything he did is fruit of the poisonous tree, right? Well, not always. 

With the world absorbed by Ukraine's Red Dawn-like stand against Russia, no one is connecting the dots of Biden’s bungling in the Middle East, coming on the heels of his disastrous evacuation of Afghanistan. One of these dots, naturally, is oil.

Biden ended the Trump policies that made America energy independent, and with gasoline prices skyrocketing, he goosed them to a record high by banning Russian imports. The establishment playbook offered the standard Hail Mary: Call the Saudis for a lifeline.

The phone rang...and rang. Nobody picked up. White House operators tried the United Arab Emirates. Again, the call went to the diplomatic equivalent of voicemail. Even Trevor Noah, controversial left-wing host of The Daily Show, saw the stark difference in how these key allies treated POTUS 44 and 45. 

“Apparently,” Noah said, “Saudi Arabia won’t even pick up the phone for the president of the United States.” 

He noted the Biden team’s denials, but that the lack of results spoke for themselves. “You can say what you want, but this would have never happened to Donald Trump. Never. ... [I]f Trump was calling, you best believe the UAE, they’d be racing to pick up the phone.”

Another dot came when the UAE’s Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan (a signatory to the Abraham Accords) welcomed Syria’s Bashar Assad on a state visit, leaving the Biden administration sputtering that they were “profoundly disappointed and troubled.” 

Why the cold shoulders from the hottest region in the world? In part because throughout his half century in Washington, Joe Biden has said whatever popped into his head with no regard for the consequences. 

The president may have forgotten denouncing the Saudi government as a “pariah” during the campaign or that he ended support for the Saudi-UAE war in Yemen, but memories in the Middle East are significantly longer than his. 

When Biden released U.S. intelligence claiming that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had journalist Jamal Khashoggi killed, that dot alone burned the very card he sought to play to alleviate America’s pain at the pump.

Another reactionary reversal came for the Houthi militia, the Saudi-UAE foe in Yemen. President Trump listed them as a terrorist organization. Biden not only returned the group to good standing; he yanked the Patriot missile batteries Trump sent to protect Saudi installations from the Iran-backed group’s attacks. 

Biden recently reversed course again, hastily returning the missiles, but the damage was done. KSM has a phone, too. He rang up Communist China and Chairman Xi gladly picked up. A short time later, the Kingdom floated the idea of switching to the yuan for oil payments, a blow to the U.S. dollar as the global reserve currency. 

Trump made the Potomac run red with the blood of the establishment’s privileges and norms, but our Mideast allies knew he had their backs. They applauded when he stood up to Iran, spreading their top general, terrorist Qassem Soleimani, all over an Iraqi tarmac and crushing ISIS with a simple strategy to “bomb the s--- out of them.”

By withdrawing from the Obama-Biden Iran nuclear deal that put the theocracy on the road to a bomb, Trump may have upset some career diplomats, but he comforted allies – and his sanctions all but brought the ayatollahs to their knees.

Again, Biden reversed these positive steps reflexively, and in the worst way possible. While sanctioning Russia on the one hand, his State Department exempted their “nuclear projects that are part of resuming full implementation” of a new deal with Tehran. 

You read that right: While correctly calling out Russians for war crimes in Ukraine, Biden is trusting them to carry out our policy with the “Death to America! Death to Israel!” crowd. “The Russians are actually negotiating on our behalf, dealing with Iran,” said, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.). “It is the ultimate, horrible foreign policy mistake…”

In The New York Post, Anthony Ruggiero and Andrea Stricker at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies wrote, “Washington is guaranteeing Moscow a multi-billion-dollar payout.” They also quoted Ambassador Mikhail Ulyanov of Russia as gushing, “Iran got much more than it could expect.” Dot. Dot. Dot.

A new president has the right to chart a new course, but even a broken clock is right twice a day, as Biden belatedly realized with the Patriot missiles. He should pause to reflect on how Trump achieved peace deals in the Middle East. If he does, perhaps 45 will realize that some of those teacups 44 smashed are best left broken.

Dean Karayanis @HistoryDean is a producer for the Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show, longtime Rush Limbaugh staffer, and host of the History Author Show on iHeartRadio.

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