The role of the Middle East is like a wheel in world politics; due to its economic resources and as a strategic foothold of global power players. This region served as the backyard of the British Empire in the 20th Century and was the victim of US unilateralism in the cold war era because of the civil and proxy wars in the region fueled by the United States, then followed by the post-9/11 scenario of war against terrorism. And the USA also always treated the Middle East as ‘Carrots and Sticks’.
Following the ‘Carrots and Sticks’ strategy, in 2015, the USA signed a famous deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)) with Iran under President Obama’s administration and in 2018, the Trump administration backed off from the deal. Because of JCPOA Iran agreed to dismantle its nuclear program, along with sanctions and opened its facilities for extensive international inspection in exchange for billions of dollars for relief. Since the US General elections of 2020 and the win of Joe Biden as president the Iranian Nuclear deal is again trending but except for negotiations, no progress has been noted.
During the recent visit of president Biden on 13th July 2022 to the Middle East, while talking about the Iranian nuclear deal in an interview he said, ‘‘I think it was a gigantic mistake for the last president to get out the deal. They are closer to a nuclear weapon now than they were before.’’ He further said that he will use force as last resort to ensure Iran does not acquire nuclear weapons. While commenting on Israel and Saudi Arabia’s relations he said, ‘‘well maybe I can ask you or give a preview of what expect on that exactly on the normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia? That’s going to take a long time but increasing the relationship in terms of the acceptance of each other’s presence and working together on certain things. It all makes sense to me and Secondly, the more Israel integrated into the region as an equal and accepted, and more likely there is going to be means by which they can eventually come to an accommodation with the Palestinians down the road.’’
Of course, President Joe Biden is not the first one to visit the Middle East but many other US presidents also visited the region earlier. He also visited this very significant region back then when he was the vice president of President Obama’s regime. The then Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu humiliated Biden when he did freeze the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories by Israelis.
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However, the significance of Biden’s recent visit as president of the USA has two dimensions; one is international, and other is the domestic. His visit to the Middle East ahead of the US mid-term elections in November has very much importance due to the high petroleum prices in the USA post the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Democrats in the US congress are keenly observing the situation. As Sun Tzu said, ‘‘in the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity’’.
After Israel’s visit Biden visited the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, during his presidential campaign he termed the KSA as a pariah state, where criticism is not allowed and critics are hanged and jailed. Biden published the US intelligence report of Jamal Khashoggi’s assassination (a Saudi Journalist working in the USA, assassinated in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul) in which Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman was named as the director of the killing plot.
The reason for Biden’s visit to KSA was to request Saudi Arabia to produce more oil and sell it at low prices, after meeting president Biden, the crown prince said, in his statement, ‘‘The Kingdom will play its role in this field, as it has announced an increase in production capacity to 13 million barrels per day. Thus, the Kingdom will not have additional capacity to increase production. The future of energy that we seek requires adopting a clear vision and priorities to achieve security, stability, and prosperity, based on having mutual respect among countries of the region, strengthening common cultural and social ties confronting security and political challenges toward achieving comprehensive economic development. We call upon Iran, as a neighboring country with whom we share religious and cultural ties to cooperate with the countries of the region to be part of this vision by adhering to international law, not interfering in the internal affairs of the other countries, and cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency and fulfilling its obligations in this regard.’’
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After the conclusion of Joe Biden’s visit to the Middle East, the Iranian president said, Joe Biden, is exciting the regional tensions and USA is relying on Iranophobia in the region. According to Kamal Kharazi, Iran has got the technical capability to manufacture its nuclear weapon but would not do so.
Although, a series of negotiations between the US and Iran has failed over the resume of the deal. The USA and Israel signed a joint anti-nuclear Iran declaration according to which the USA will use ‘all elements of national power’ to retrain Iran from achieving nuclear capability. Biden is currently seeking success in the mid-term elections and for that making peace with Saudi Arabia and Gulf states on the Anti-Iran card was necessary. The United States would not like to sit back in a covert Iran-Israel war in which Iranian nuclear facilities can be attacked, assassinations, cyberattacks, and explosions can happen. Most interestingly, the Russian president’s upcoming meeting with Iranian and Turkish counterparts in Iran to discuss the Syrian situation and a bilateral meeting on the Iranian Nuclear Deal of 2015 right after Biden’s visit to the Middle East has its own significance.
Iranian Nuclear deal has become more like the last resort of soft power for the United States of America to gain their interests in the Middle East, by using which they successfully trigger regional tension among the states of the Middle East and get away with their benefits. Hence Sun Tzu proved right, ‘‘in the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity’’.