Looking beyond the Biden Visit to the Middle East and the “Fist Bump”
August 4, 2022
If one looks back on media coverage of Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia – and far too many of the analyses of the visit that have followed – it is amazing to see how much of that coverage focused on the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, the President’s “fist bump,” and on short term issues and trends.
The key strategic challenges the U.S. faces in the Middle East are longer term and they go far beyond most of the reporting and discussion of the Biden visit.
These strategic challenges involve:
- Dealing with the broader levels of instability and failure in the greater Middle East;
- Failing to address the key security issues in the MENA Region, and rebuild relations with security partners;
- U.S. relations with Israel and the Palestinians: The death of the two state solution and “facts on the ground;” and
- Looking beyond the gas and oil crisis triggered by the Ukraine War.
President Biden did touch upon some aspects of these challenges during his visit to Israel and Saudi Arabia. While much of this effort tended to be ignored in the media, it is clear from the briefs and fact sheets issued by the White House. Yet almost all of this official reporting consisted of strategic rhetoric rather than plans and actions that could lead to real progress. Moreover, the Biden administration has not announced clear strategies and plans for dealing with any of these major strategic challenges in the MENA region in any other open source report or forum.
The Emeritus Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) has prepared a report that examines each of these shortfalls in U.S. strategy and policy. It is entitled, Looking beyond the Biden Visit to the Middle East and the “Fist Bump”: The Need to Meet the Key Strategic Challenges in the Middle East and North Africa.
It examines the outcome of the President’s visit, what the U.S. has and has not accomplished in dealing with each challenge, what can be learned from the key trends in each challenge, and what the United States and its strategic partners now need to do to create a more stable and secure set of strategic partnerships.
A downloadable copy of the full analysis is attached below. It is also available on the CSIS website at https://csis-website-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/220804_Cordesman_Biden_Visit.pdf