US President Joe Biden has not made up his mind on whether to visit Saudi Arabia in June. But there’s a lot to be hopeful about. In addition to the economic and security benefits, Biden’s visit could also pave the way for normalization of U.S.-Saudi relations. The Palestinians, for their part, are also hoping for positive results from the visit. After all, they feel stymied in their quest for an independent state alongside Israel.
Despite this uncertainty, the Vice President has made a pledge to change the U.S.-Saudi relationship, including meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. After the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey, the United States determined that Saudi Arabia was involved in the killing. While some Democratic allies have called for Biden to avoid visiting the country until it made commitments regarding human rights, the White House has said Biden will still visit.
However, a recent report published by the US intelligence agency blamed the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman for the killing of Khashoggi. Biden reportedly ignored the report and continued to pursue warmer relations with Saudi Arabia, despite the US intelligence assessment. The Saudis blame the murder on Russia’s military operation in Ukraine and NATO’s eastward push.
The report also noted that some House Democratic committee chairs have requested briefings prior to and after the trip. The Hill has since removed its comment section and encouraged its readers to comment on the story in other venues. Further, biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia has sparked concerns in some circles about the administration’s foreign policy. Despite all this, he is nevertheless working closely with Israel and Saudi Arabia.
In the end, US President Joe Biden’s remarks make us wonder if he should visit the kingdom in June. It’s still early days in the planning process, but the US Vice President has praised the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for his “courageous” decision. The Saudis have stepped up their efforts to stabilize the global oil market and ice out Russia. However, the decision on a trip to the region may not be a wise one – despite the political costs – and the fact that Biden will be traveling alone.
The Yemen conflict continues, with Houthi rebels holding 80% of the country. The Houthis have been willing to lift the blockade in northern Yemen in exchange for peace talks. However, they rejected a United Nations compromise proposal in Amman. Saudi Arabia wants to regain its reputation. Biden can use his leverage to encourage Saudi Arabia to provide incentives to the Yemeni people.