The 'realpolitik' of oil leads Biden to Saudi Arabia amid internal criticism

Joe Biden fell off his bike yesterday when he was trying to get off it after a ride near his beach house in Delaware.

24 June 2022 Friday 12:15
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The 'realpolitik' of oil leads Biden to Saudi Arabia amid internal criticism

Joe Biden fell off his bike yesterday when he was trying to get off it after a ride near his beach house in Delaware. But he immediately got up and recomposed himself. "I'm fine," he said, and began to chat with the people who had come to see him.

The president of the United States has been like this for almost the entire term: falling down and assuring that he is fine. It would be said that, for him, politics is the art of the impossible, or almost; to make the contradictory compatible and to put on a brave face in the midst of the worst storm. "Never in my life have I been more optimistic," he said ten days ago during the complicated Summit of the Americas. "You have to have confidence, I have it," he reiterated Thursday, in the same AP interview in which he admitted that Americans are "very, very depressed."

This rare mix of near-pathological optimism and sensible realism is already an essential part of Biden's political discourse, of his strategy before the mid-term legislative elections in November and of many of his decisions in domestic and foreign policy. Including traveling to Saudi Arabia in mid-July and there, in Yida, meeting with Prince Mohamed bin Salman. He will do it on a tour of the Middle East with stops also in Israel and the West Bank. In Yida, on the shores of the Red Sea, Biden will also meet with leaders of other nations in the region, including Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates.

The leader knows the risks of an apparent reconciliation with the absolute monarchy which in 2020, in the presidential campaign, he promised to turn into a "pariah" state for its outrages against human rights and for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in in 2018, an event for which the US blamed Prince Salman.

Biden also knows that the main objective of his stop in Arabia, to start an increase in oil production to help lower gasoline prices, is not easy to achieve or bring significant results. Among other things because the margins of that country and the Emirates to pump more crude oil are too narrow to change the outlook in the market. And because, as the oil historian and vice president of S

The US leader faces domestic criticism for his meeting with Salman. The number two of the Democrats in the Senate, Dick Durbin, affirmed that although he understands Biden's ballot with the price of gasoline and inflation, he has "mixed feelings" about his visit to a country with an "appalling" record regarding to rights. Durbin's counterpart in the Senate Republican group, John Thune, spoke of the "unfortunate" trip, and the Saudi activist Hala al Dosari, a defender of rights in her country and resident in the US, of "treason" .

But Biden's confidence and his need to show voters that he will do whatever it takes to lower the price of gasoline seem to weigh as much or more than the risks that his encounter with the Saudis entails. And there are other reasons of political realism that, after some doubts about it, have tipped the balance in favor of the trip. "Saudi Arabia is a critical partner for us in dealing with extremism in the region and managing the challenges posed by Iran" and its nuclear program, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday.

The head of US diplomacy alluded to the other part of the tour, that of Israel and the West Bank, as an opportunity to "continue the process of building relations" between Israelis and Palestinians, and seek "the expansion of the Abraham Accords." Such pacts, established in 2020 under the auspices of the Donald Trump Administration, normalized relations between Israel and several Arab states, including the Emirates and Bahrain, as well as Morocco. Washington seeks to add the Saudis, which would allow it to score a point in international politics. Neither is it an easy goal nor would it be without controversy. But it is clear: Biden does not give up even if he falls... Or precisely for that reason, because of how much he falls in the polls, he sees no other choice but to keep pedaling. With all enthusiasm.



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