Q: Prior to Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia, the media was full of rumors that the Saudis were being sweet-talked into recognizing Israel. Already the Saudis allow Israeli planes to use Saudi airspace.

A: Wishful thinking. Israel wants the Saudis to acknowledge it as chief terrorist-cop in the Middle East. The Saudis see themselves as the rightful chief, at least among the Arabs, so they are unlikely to bend over like the other Persian Gulf monarchies, who just want to maintain their playboy lifestyle

and like to be feted by slick, rich Israeli diamond merchants. Much more fun than pumping aid into Palestinian hands, only to have Israel bomb anything worthwhile as soon as it’s built. But political correctness demands that the Gulf states given at least pro forma support for Palestinians.

Q: So no ‘progress’ on the Saudi front?

A: On the contrary, the Saudis continue holding talks with Iran on renewing diplomatic ties. Unless the US vetoes it, that is much more likely than recognizing Israel. As for war on Iran, none of the Gulf states want thousands of bombs flying in both directions. It's not just a virtual reality video game for them. Only US-Israel wants war with Iran.

Worse yet, none of the Gulf states are interested in the US-Russia war in Ukraine. Everyone but US-Israel just want peace. 

Attempts to resurrect the 1950s METO (Middle East treaty organization) fell flat. METO's centrepiece was the Shah's Iran and Israel was not invited but there's no question about where all the intelligence went to. It died in 1979 when Iran had its Islamic revolution and expelled the nest of US-Israeli spies in Tehran. It is laughable to think it could be resurrected, given that only the Persian Gulf states are reluctantly on board. Israel’s dream of being the caliph of the Arab states, controlling Middle East politics, is everyone else's nightmare.

As for any thought of Russian arms sales to the Saudis showing independence, Saudi Arabia is tied to the US economically and politically. For it to ‘switch sides’ is not really an option. Its arms purchases from both sides seem more to be for political support, to keep as many rich nations as possible at the trough.

So trade in rubles? Why not? It seems the US can't stop it. What fun, flouting the yanks. Another small step towards a new world finance system. Thank you MBS. Maybe your Wahhabi faith (and lots of oil) is for the long run, like China's dream of communism, just around the bend.

As for Biden's knight-in-shining-armour promise not to 'walk away and leave a vacuum to be filled by China, Russia or Iran,' Obviously, Biden was told to back down on MBS and keep him happy. Period. A kind of Kennedy moment. Don't try anything smartass.

Besides, campaign promises in the US are meant to be broken. Indeed, if he had stuck with his human rights talk, the Saudis would have to go to Russia and China for support, and make peace with Iran. What a threat to world peace! Pretty soon US-Israel is reduced to that lonely hill citadel of Jerusalem of Cecil Rhodes. Or better, an 11th century crusader kingdom, an outpost of empire, first British, now American, just waiting for a Saladin to appear.

One can only pity Biden, president of the most powerful nation, kowtowing to a bloodthirsty tyrant like MBS (I don't think that's an exaggeration). Biden has no use for MBS except as an obedient client state. 

Q: Is there a difference between Obama, Biden and Trump?

A : Obama chose Cairo (Arab Springtime?) as a venue to address the Muslim world, Trump - Riyadh (oil, arms, profit), Biden - Egypt and Riyadh (?), as the first station of their trips to the Middle East. Biden no doubt inspired Egyptians to fight for democracy, precipitating the Arab Spring in 2011. Obama is an intellectual with a sense of what works in the world, given his constraints. Israel hated him from the start.

He makes me think of a cowardly JFK. Obama vowed to close Guantanamo but when the generals nixxed it, he quietly backed down. He wanted to pull out of Afghanistan, but was pressured into expanding operations. I used to think dark matter was just too wacky. Now it's assumed. Do I hear dark state? Obama did not relish the fate of JFK. He survived to tell the tale, but what a cold fish, cynic.

The JCPOA was his brainchild and arguably his only foreign policy victory (to justify his Nobel Prize?), but Trump’s hatred of Obama meant he systematically undermined everything Obama did. Obama was nice to Iran? Ok, let’s tear up the treaty, ramp up sanctions, assassinate Iran’s top general, Soleimani, give Israel a free pass to assassinate Iranian nuclear physicists.

Biden spent 8 years as Obama’s sidekick, but he is a Trump clone, continuing Trump’s policies, ignoring Obama’s. Who would have thought?

Trump’s plan was to strong-arm the Arabs states into recognizing Israel and together attack Iran. Leave the mess to Israel to police. End of Middle East problem. In light of that scenario, Biden’s attempt to keep a 2-state solution in Palestine-Israel alive is at least not so apocalyptic.

Trump’s one bit of evidence that he wanted to withdraw US forces was his attempt to pull troops from Syria, but even there, he was happy to bow to the generals when he realized the US troops in Syria were ‘protecting’ Syria’s oil. That is, protecting Syrian oil from being used by the Syrian government to fight ISIS and to reassert control over rebel and occupied territories. 

Trump was a disrupter but left no legacy. Biden is a ‘nice guy’, but so far is happy to continue down the Trump road. Biden's steel fist in a velvet glove with wayward EU vassals makes Trump look like a statesman. Remember Trump's 'shocking' behaviour demanding Euros cough up for defense?

If Trump were president now, I seriously doubt he would be throwing billions at Ukraine. 'Let Europe pay' translates as 'hey Russia, what'll we do?'. No Russiagate, just simple economics.

Putin’s trip to Tehran to meet with Erdogan and Ayatollah Khameini added insult to injury for the Israelis. And to make matters worse, Pompeo threw another apocalyptic curveball, calling on US and allies to undermine the budding Russian-Chinese-Iran axis. They must be crushed.

But the US, which threatens all three nations individually, is responsible for the creation of this alliance. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. We anti-imperialists should thank Pompeo for his warmongering.

This is just the latest version of the US need to see the world as full of friends as allies and enemies to conquer. Whatever means are necessary to fight terrorism are okay, including terrorism.



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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

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Eric's latest book The Canada Israel Nexus is available here http://www.claritypress.com/WalbergIV.html