Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Al Jazeera—"The Middle East: Goodbye America, hello China?"

I have to remind myself when we link to Al Jazeera that the Qatar-based/backed company does not speak for all Arabs, much less all Middle Easterners and certainly not all Muslims (think Indonesia or Nigeria). That said, and at risk of putting too much emphasis on what's going on - Syria being readmitted to the Arab League, the Iranian Embassy reopening in Riyadh, both counter to the Washington establishment's desires - something's up.

From Al Jazeera, June 6:

The US is losing ground in the region and it has only itself to blame.

In an attempt to salvage his country’s waning influence in the Middle East, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is embarking on a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia this week. But advancing “strategic cooperation” with his Saudi and Gulf counterparts may well prove an uphill battle.

In July last year, President Joe Biden attended the Gulf Cooperation Council summit in the kingdom and vowed that the United States “will not walk away and leave a vacuum to be filled by China, Russia, or Iran”. But that is precisely what has been happening.

Despite US objections, the past year has seen its regional allies go hybrid: they have improved relations with Beijing and Tehran and maintained strong ties with Moscow.

Although the Biden administration has publicly downplayed the importance of the recent Chinese-brokered Saudi-Iranian agreement to re-establish diplomatic relations, it seems frantic about the growing Chinese influence in the oil-rich Gulf region and the greater Middle East.

Over the past two decades, the US has ramped up oil and gas production, becoming virtually energy independent. It may no longer need Gulf oil as much, but it insists on being in charge in the region so it is able to cut China off of vital energy supplies in the event of a conflict, and secure them for its allies.

As Blinken warned last month, “China represents the most consequential geopolitical challenge we face today: a country with the intent and, increasingly, the capability to challenge our vision for a free, open, secure, and prosperous international order.”

But Beijing’s autocracy may actually be an easier and better fit for the region’s autocrats than Washington’s democracy.

Russia’s sway in the Middle East and beyond has also made the US nervous.

Fed up with their ambiguity, even complicity with Russia, the Biden administration has been ramping up pressure on certain Middle Eastern states, making clear that its patience is running out. It has been warning countries in the region against helping Russia evade sanctions and demanding they pick sides – or else face the wrath of the US and G7 nations.

But to no avail.

Saudi Arabia has thus far refused the US request to substantially increase oil production to lower its market price and offset the effect of Western sanctions on Russia. It has maintained good relations with Moscow and dragged its feet on supporting Ukraine. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s “middle finger to Washington” has reportedly made him extremely popular in the region....


The two most plausible explanations for what is going on are that a) the U.S. is governed by morons or that b) this is a deliberate effort by the U.S. powers-that-be to take global U.S. influence down a notch-or-three.

Throw in the emerging realization that the Biden family is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Chinese Communist Party-and-government (a dandy excuse to throw Joe overboard and bring in a "clean" Dem. President, "Michelle, you're on") and the analysis gets complicated, fast.

Speaking of "clean" it is still hard to comprehend that Biden actually said about then-Senator Obama as both were gearing up for the 2008 Presidential race:

"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright 
and clean and a nice-looking guy," Biden said. "I mean, that's a storybook, man."
Yeah, I don't think the movers and shakers pulling Joe's strings would think twice about discarding him. 
But by then the damage will have been done, with plausible deniability for the puppet-masters.