Is oil more important than human rights? US President Biden has to put up with these and other questions in view of a planned trip to Saudi Arabia.
Scheduled visit of the President of the USA Joe Biden in Saudi Arabia provokes criticism and puts the White House in need of explanation.
The US government officially announced Biden’s trip to the Middle East on Tuesday, which has long been speculated about: Biden initially wants to follow in mid-July Israel and travel to the Palestinian Territories and then visit the oil-rich Saudi Arabia. In the face of Biden’s sharp criticism of serious human rights abuses in the kingdom, he and his government are now facing uncomfortable questions.
Middle East: support for a two-state solution
Biden will begin his trip to Israel on July 13, where he will meet with Israeli leaders, a senior White House official said. This is Biden’s first trip to Israel as President. He then wanted to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Biden wanted to reaffirm his support for a two-state solution.
After that, Biden will travel to Saudi Arabia and will also meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the government spokesman said. Attendance at a Gulf Cooperation Council meeting is also on the agenda in the kingdom, which is expected to be attended by representatives Egyptin the Iraq and Jordan to participate.
There have always been speculations about the trip to Saudi Arabia, also in the context of rising energy prices, which put Biden under a lot of domestic pressure. However, Biden and the White House had repeatedly refused to confirm the trip.
Saudi Arabia: A close ally of the United States and a major oil exporter
Saudi Arabia has traditionally been a close ally United States and one of the leading oil exporters in the world. However, Biden had previously criticized human rights abuses in the kingdom. These should also be an issue on Biden’s trip, the government spokesman said.
However, Biden firmly believes that “at this special time in the world” it would be wise to visit Saudi Arabia and attend the GCC + 3 summit there for a face-to-face exchange.
In November 2019, Biden announced during the election campaign that Riyadh would “pay a price” for the assassination of journalist Jamal Kasogi, who was critical of the government, and would become an “outcast.” According to US intelligence, Saudi Arabia’s successor Mohammed bin Salman – briefly MbS – approved the operation to arrest or assassinate Kasogi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. , the US government imposed sanctions on Saudi Arabia in February 2020, but Bin Salman escaped.
Is the economy a priority?
Now Biden and his government are faced with the question – politically repeated for other governments – whether they put economic issues above human rights and whether Kasoghi’s assassination will have no consequences for Mohammed bin Salman.
Human rights are always an issue in international meetings, said White House spokeswoman Karin Jean-Pierre. The government has made no secret of what happened before Biden took office. But he stressed: “We do not want to destroy relationships.” Jean-Pierre also assured that while energy was an important issue during the visit, it was by no means the only one. U.S. government headquarters say the president decides on international meetings based on whether they are in the best interests of the American people. And this visit belongs to this category.
While the White House said it was only waiting for Mohammed bin Salman to be “involved” in the talks during the visit, the Saudi embassy in the US announced that the successor would have “formal talks” with Biden on a number of issues. will lead.
According to Saudi Arabia, both countries want to strengthen their “excellent strategic partnership” during the visit on July 15 and 16 – and determine the “next chapters” of their cooperation.