President Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia earlier last month and his meeting with GCC leaders is a reassertion of the importance of the partnership between the US and the Gulf states.
This is a partnership that has for decades helped the West and Middle East in its efforts towards combatting terrorism, extremist narratives and maintaining global security.
The Biden administration has belatedly realized that it needs to step out of its comfort zone and that a policy of carrots and sticks does not work with the region, as the world has fundamentally changed.
America and the Gulf states have a long history of friendly relations that go far beyond any administration or president’s campaign strategies. Our mutual capabilities are well suited towards cooperation and supporting each other’s objectives.
On the campaign trail President Biden and also his predecessor made comments about Gulf states which were ill-received due to their blunt and inappropriate nature, as perceived here in the context of Gulf culture.
However, when campaigns end and reality hits, presidents and their administrations realise that Gulf states are the greatest of allies and despite the presence of challenges with these allies, the US should work closely rather than distance itself from them.
The economic, cultural and security partnership between the United States and the Arab Gulf States is profound and far-reaching. It affects generations of youth and given rise to a strong alliance and one of the greatest friendships, despite the challenges being faced. There is a certain way of communicating with the Gulf, calling the greatest power in the region a “pariah” is certainly not one of it.
Concerns about human rights violations and women’s rights can be addressed through the right channels. Gulf states certainly do not have impeccable human rights records but neither does America. Yet again with all the changes going on in the world, neither the governments of the Gulf states nor the people accept America dictating its policies on their countries.
In addition, it is inevitable that as sovereign nations Gulf states can and will choose to form other alliances that will protect their national interests while trying not to drag themselves into America’s race for global hegemony against Russia and China. Considering that Russia and China are rising powers with shared economic interests with the Gulf states.
However, every US administration should understand that the people of the Gulf will always feel closer to America than its rivals due to the long historic partnership between our nations. Globalization has brought us closer in so many ways that we never deemed possible; hence US officials have to build on these strong ties by understanding our culture and continuously communicating with our governments and people and avoiding unnecessary confrontation and dictation of policies.
The vision for the new Middle East is one where America is the main partner alongside Israel, Egypt, Jordan and all the Gulf States. A new Middle East where the Islamic Republic of Iran is the official pariah, where the west makes no efforts and nuclear deals that strengthen the presence of Iran supported terror groups in our region. Where any US administration that comes to power will understand that the Islamic republic will never be cooperative and that the new Middle East rejects the presence of the Islamic Republic. Where there will be more efforts to liberate the Iranian people from the brutality of the Ayatollahs. Where Israel becomes a partner to all its neighbours including Palestine and peace becomes a reality. Where both Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace among their neighbours. Where groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah and ISIS cease to exist.
America has a major role to play in this and President Biden and all future administrations should understand how to communicate with their allies and friends to continue to build on this great partnership between the US and the Arab Gulf states.