President Biden's visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in July 2022 was an opportunity to reset the relationship which has come under strain over the last year. But it is a critical relationship because it is too big to fail. The President would hopefully have a robust agenda while in the kingdom to be discussing. This embraces a variety of topics such as security issues related to Iran, as well as energy security. There was a range of other U.S. concerns as they related to the Middle East region and. In a sense, the U.S. policy is moving forward.
Nevertheless, we are in this zombie-like process with Tehran. It is the unending interminable, negotiating process with Iran, and that only redounds to the benefit of the Islamic Republic. Right now, it has been dragging its feet in the negotiations, producing a shorter and weaker deal for the international community, while Iran advances its nuclear program, and also capitalises on high oil prices. The U.S. enforcement of sanctions, particularly on China's illicit purchases of Iranian oil is lax. Iran's supreme leader feels that treading water is sufficient for him and the system at this juncture. And unless and until the Iranian system is forced to choose between the survival of its regime or a nuclear program, we are going to be continuing in this stalemate. And that is why we need more pressure on the regime.
It’s absolutely critical for the Gulf Arab states to be in these discussions. One of the major shortcomings of the original JCPOA was the fact that the region felt shut out of these negotiations, and that their security concerns were relegated and dismissed. These countries are at the forefront and have to deal with the Iranian threat on a daily bases, if we are going to be dismissing or discounting their security concerns, we are going to have another collapsed agreement. That is a waste of the international community's time. And that is why we need a more robust policy in targeting Iran comprehensively moving forward.
The Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman has exhibited great leadership on all of these initiatives. The Kingdom has many very exciting initiatives happening, and there is a great deal of change happening on the ground. The Saudi people are very excited about it. It is important for the Saudi leadership to be engaging with the highest level of the U.S. government on how we can put our relationship on a firmer footing moving forward in a way that respects U.S. interests and values.
The relationships at the working level between the Kingdom and the United States are strong. Unfortunately, some of the senior-level relationships over the last year had been strained. But I hope that Biden’s visit improves that, because the U.S. security is served by having a robust partnership with the Gulf Arab states in the region. Let us not forget, after all, China and Russia are trying to create inroads in the Middle East.
Therefore, the U.S. solidifying its relationships in this regard is critical. And it also relates to the energy sphere as well. The crisis of the war in Ukraine has made a reality check in the United States that the Middle East matters. We cannot just withdraw from one part of the world and expect what happens in the Middle East to stay in the Middle East. It is a global conversation that has a global import. And that is why we need to shore up our alliances and partnerships right now in the Middle East and that is what I hope the President’s trip could achieve.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Brodsky is currently the policy director of United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI). Previously, he was senior Middle East analyst and editor at Iran International TV. From 2013-16, he served in a variety of capacities at the Wilson Center. You can follow him on @JasonMBrodsky