Two weeks after U.S. national security adviser Jack Sullivan visited Saudi Arabia, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken began another visit to the country to follow up on several issues central to U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.
Blinken’s visit will focus on two main events – he will attend a ministerial meeting between the United States and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries on the 7th and will meet with Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Far the following day Han co-chaired the meeting of the International Anti-ISIS Coalition.
At a news conference, Daniel Benim, deputy assistant secretary of state for the Arabian Peninsula, reiterated President Joe Biden’s message to the region when he visited Jeddah last summer — “We will not stand for our Strategic competitors in the region leave a void”.
broad and complex agenda
The United States and the GCC countries have a broad and complex agenda based on broad and deep regional security challenges—including but not limited to Iran, regional security cooperation, energy security, sanctions enforcement and financial flows, technology security, Red Sea security, future relations with Syria, and more.
Against this backdrop, George Cafiero, executive director of the Washington-based Arab Gulf States Institute, confirmed that “the Biden administration has been working closely with the Saudis and the UAE” since the conflict erupted in Sudan in mid-April to respond to this crisis.
Cafiero added in an interview with Al Jazeera, “What is certain is that the cooperation between the United States and Saudi Arabia on Sudan will be one of the important issues discussed by Blinken and the Saudi foreign minister.”
Speaking yesterday to the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the largest Israel lobby group in the United States, Blinken lowered the ceiling on expectations on the issue of Saudi-Israel relations, and the Biden administration has been under pressure to He has put pressure on the Saudis to agree to these long-awaited measures in Washington and Tel Aviv.
Iran Issue, Maritime and Regional Security
Blinken’s visit comes just days after Iran announced plans to create a joint navy with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Iraq, India and Pakistan, which was resumed with the good offices of Iran and Saudi Arabia The latest developments emerged after nearly 3 months of the relationship.
Against this background, Hussein Abish, a senior researcher at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, said, “The United States will want to discuss maritime security in the Gulf and Red Sea regions, especially issues related to air defense and missile defense. And everything related to Iran, and the new system of containment and deterrence that the United States is developing against Iran since the collapse of direct negotiations between the United States and Iran to revive the Iran nuclear agreement.”
Abish told Al Jazeera in an interview, “The United States’ goal is to transform what is in the bilateral arrangement into a series of intricate regional understandings, resulting in de facto a very loosely integrated security relationship.”
China’s Influence in the Gulf
In recent weeks, the United States has sent numerous signals that it has reservations about any security cooperation between China and its Gulf allies. It had previously blocked an aircraft deal in the UAE because of its close relationship with Chinese technology and communications giant Huawei.
The U.S. realizes that with China’s rise as a global player, the U.S. has been unable to prevent China from developing a broader relationship with GCC countries beyond just buying and selling energy. The U.S. goal, therefore, is to ensure that these new relationships do not threaten U.S. strategic hegemony in the region.
On the other hand, Jon Altman, director of the Middle East program at the Center for International Policy and Strategy in Washington, admitted that the goal of the United States is not to drive China out of the Gulf region or to confront China in the region, but to ensure that China is more victorious in the Gulf region. Increased engagement is constructive and does not compromise the security of the United States and its partners.
Altman added in an interview with Al Jazeera, “China is first and foremost a major trading partner of the United States, and no one sees anything wrong with increased trade. But when it comes to the possibility of opening the door to China’s security presence or surveillance capabilities When it comes to sex, the perception of the United States will be different.”
Cafiero agreed with Altman, noting, “The U.S. government has deep concerns about the relationship between China and Saudi Arabia and its depth. These concerns have nothing to do with the economic and trade relationship between Saudi Arabia and China, but the defense of the relationship between the two countries.” and security aspects. The Biden administration has put pressure on Saudi Arabia and the UAE to avoid drawing closer to China in these areas.”
The senior researcher also noted that the U.S. has made it clear that “there are red lines that it can tolerate, and that can really be anything that doesn’t allow China to establish a new strategic foothold in the region.”
Abish added, “Then things that are not on the table are signals intelligence capabilities, sensitive technology transfers, dual-use facilities that may be used by the Chinese navy or other military or security agencies for military purposes, and other Something like that, whose common denominator is likely to contribute to China’s presence in the region as a regional player that goes beyond ordinary and standard relations between states.”
A shared vision between Saudi Arabia and the United States
On the other hand, in discussions within Washington about Blinken’s visit, Brian Katulis, deputy director of the Institute of Middle East Affairs, called for the need for the United States and Saudi Arabia to develop a “Vision 2023” for bilateral relations that would align with the Saudi The Kingdom’s ongoing domestic efforts to shape the economic and social agenda.
Katulis emphasized that “Blinken’s visit this week will provide a new opportunity for the United States and Saudi Arabia to cooperate in building a new bilateral relationship to address common threats and seize new opportunities, and provide a basis for discussions between the two countries. Keep the lines of communication open on issues of disagreement.”
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