How does Joe Biden plan to spare both Iran and Saudi Arabia?

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United States President Joe Biden took two strong steps on Friday, targeting both Iran and Saudi Arabia, without seeking to weaken one for the other.

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United States President Joe Biden took two strong steps on Friday, targeting both Iran and Saudi Arabia, without seeking to weaken one for the other.

© Reuters

United States President Joe Biden took two strong steps on Friday, targeting both Iran and Saudi Arabia, without seeking to weaken one for the other.


In less than a few hours, this Friday, the President of the United States, Joe Biden, ordered a military operation against pro-Iranian Shiite militias folded on the Syrian border, and released a US intelligence report accusing Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Ben Salman of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

These two very firm measures, targeting each of the two enemy brothers in the Middle East, were not undertaken to weaken one for the benefit of the other. But rather to strengthen the United States against Tehran and Riyadh. With the Islamic Republic of Iran, contacts have already started behind the scenes in order to initiate a reintegration of the United States into the the Vienna agreement on Iranian nuclear power of 2015, which Donald Trump had torn apart in 2018 to replace it with a strategy of maximum pressure against Tehran. In doing so, Washington does not intend to let pro-Iranian Shiite militias rule over Iraq and use that country as a place of score settling that threatens its diplomacy.

“Recalibrate” the relationships

With Saudi Arabia, US Secretary of State Tony Blinken talks about “recalibrating” the relationship. Joe Biden had promised, a little quickly, that he would treat the kingdom as an “outcast” if he were to be elected. Despite everything, he knows that the two countries are linked by essential strategic interests. By sanctioning a few dozen relatives of “MBS” and members of the Saudi services for the murder of Jamal Kashoggi, by speaking only with his father, King Salman, although very old and ill, by ceasing all direct military aid to the forces Arabs engaged in Yemen, where he appoints a special envoy of high value responsible for bringing the protagonists around a table, Joe Biden is keen to maintain the essential, that is to say a credible balance of regional powers.

The relationship with Israel is also at stake. Joe Biden waited twenty-seven days before calling Benjamin Netanyahu. The Hebrew state remains a major ally but, as with Saudi Arabia under Donald Trump, the time for absolute complicity is over. Does this mean that, by stepping back to a dialogue with Iran, the United States will take its Saudi and Israeli allies into account? Yes, but maybe not in the middle of the ford and on condition that none indulge in unnecessary provocations.

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