The Biden administration's courtship of Iran, a state sponsor of terrorism, has many Arabs confused as to why the Biden administration would want this as their legacy. If the human rights record of Saudi Arabia seems a problem, Arabs ask themselves why the human rights record of Iran -- which has murdered so many Americans over the years -- from the Marine barracks bombing of 1983 to the attacks on 9/11 -- is considered any better. (Photo by Robert Giroux/Getty Images)
Many Arabs are continuing to express disappointment and frustration with the administration of US President Joe Biden, particularly its perceived appeasement of Iran's mullahs, failure to classify the Iran-backed Houthi militia as a terrorist organization and turning its back on America's erstwhile allies and friends in the Arab world.
These views, expressed in articles published in several media outlets, reflect the widespread concern among Arabs, especially those living in the Gulf states. Some of the Arab writers and political analysts behind these articles are close to the governments and leaders of the Arab countries. It is therefore safe to assume that these views also reflect the official positions of these leaders and governments.
One of the prominent writers, Emirati politician and academic Abdul Khaleq Abdullah, is closely associated with Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Abdullah revealed that since the Biden administration came to power one year ago, UAE-US relations have witnessed an "unprecedented deterioration."
"Misunderstanding [between the UAE and US] is at its highest, trust at its lowest, and mutual resentment has become public... A year ago, the partnership between the UAE and America was at the height of its strength, and they were on their way to a new level of deep strategic partnership, then suddenly an unexpected setback and divergence occurred."
Abdullah points out that the UAE has invested a great deal in its relations with Washington in the past 30 years. During that time, he added, the UAE was keen on strengthening the relationship, deepening trust, and consolidating mutual benefits.
"The UAE wanted to strengthen political understanding with the US through the Abraham Accords, and was planning to consolidate military and strategic cooperation through the F-35 deal... The UAE has allocated the bulk of the investments of its huge sovereign funds in the American markets, even excluding Asian and European markets, and has been keen to increase the volume of trade exchange with Washington. The UAE wanted to become America's No 1 trading partner."
The Emirati politician noted, however, that the Biden administration "did not behave well and did not appreciate what the UAE was doing." The Biden administration, Abdullah said, did not welcome the Abraham Accords "despite their historical importance and did not give them the attention they deserve."
He took the Biden administration to task for failing to embrace the UAE's political, humanitarian and military cooperation with the US during its withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Voicing deep disappointment with Washington's policies, he criticized the Biden administration for not supporting the UAE during the Houthi missile and drone attacks on the Gulf state, thereby confirming that the US is "an unreliable partner in times of crises."
"In light of these facts, the UAE has the right to feel doubly resentful of a volatile US partner whose commitments are not being respected... This prompted the UAE and other countries not to rely on the US as a sole strategic partner. The UAE's relationship with the US partner is at stake and it is facing difficulties it has not faced in 50 years, and it may be heading towards further divergence, rather than rapprochement. It is certain that the task of fixing the misunderstanding falls on the shoulders of the Biden administration, which may be on the verge of losing a regional partner."
Bahraini writer Muhammed Al Mahmeed wrote that President Biden continues to make mistakes and slips of the tongue," Mahmeed noted. "He has not learned the lessons from [former US President Barack] Obama's mistakes and disasters, but continues to do so. Biden is continuing to make more mistakes," particularly in his dealings with Russia and the Gulf countries.
"We are witnessing an absurd political behavior, which will only harm the interests of the US," he added.
Mahmeed too criticized the Biden administration for not supporting some Arab countries in the face of the Houthi attacks from Yemen.
"Biden's enthusiasm to support the efforts of some Arab countries to achieve security and stability has not been great... Instead, he is rushing to achieve reconciliation with Iran. When will President Biden realize that his continuous and mistakes and blunders will harm the American people?"
Veteran Lebanese journalist and political analyst Kheirallah Kheirallah wrote that there is no real difference between Biden and Obama.
"Nothing has changed in Washington, from Barack Obama to Joe Biden... If anything has changed, it is for the worse. The slogan raised in Washington is still that the Iranian nuclear issue reduces all crises in the Middle East and the Gulf, and that this file has nothing to do with the practices of the Islamic Republic in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen."
Echoing the widespread sentiments among Washington's Arab allies, Kheirallah asked:
"How can such an administration, which has abandoned its allies, including Saudi Arabia, succeed in responding to [Russian President] Vladimir Putin in Ukraine? How can a US administration gain the trust of its allies despite its refusal to take note that northern Yemen has become an Iranian base for missiles and drones? These missiles and drones are directed at the Arab Gulf states, and are now threatening navigation in the Red Sea as well. The Biden administration failed the Ukrainian exam. The tragedy is that it does not want to admit this and does not want to know why the allies do not trust it."
The Lebanese journalist described the Biden administration's policy in the Middle East and North Africa as "debilitated."
This US policy, he said, "has encouraged Iran to go far in threatening the countries of the region and their security with the help of the Revolutionary Guard Corps."
"To put it more clearly, there is no sane person in the region willing to take seriously any reassuring words issued by [US Special Envoy for Iran] Rob Malley and other officials in the US administration dealing with the Iranian portfolio. Every child knows that these American officials have nothing but appeasement for Iran, especially in light of the lukewarm American reaction to the recent attacks it carried out against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates."
Kurdish researcher Khorshid Delli also expressed concern over the Biden administration's lenient approach and readiness to make concessions to Iran:
"Biden practiced a very flexible policy towards Iran and seems determined to make all the necessary concessions in order to reach a new nuclear agreement with it, reviving the nuclear agreement signed in 2015 during the Obama era... Biden did not take into account the concerns of allies who were apprehensive about Iran's role and regional agenda, especially its ballistic missile program, which poses a threat to America's historical allies, particularly Israel. Biden turned into a 'peace dove' at the expense of America's allies, without any consideration for their security concerns. He accepted most of the Iranian conditions, on top of which is the lifting of various financial sanctions, which would lead to Iran getting billions of dollars frozen in Western banks. Worse than all of the above would be if Washington responds to the Iranian condition by removing the Revolutionary Guard Corps from the list of terrorist organizations, as it did with the terrorist Houthi militia."
Delli pointed out that Biden's policy towards the Iranian nuclear issue is not acceptable to Washington's allies.
"Biden's policy toward the Iranian nuclear is not acceptable to the allies in the Middle East and the Arab Gulf, and the ongoing diplomatic moves by these [Arab] countries on how to deal with this issue is an expression of the implicit rejection of this policy," he said.
Egyptian columnist Mamoun Fandy wrote that the Arabs are already worried about the actions of Iran and its terrorist proxies in the region. The Arabs, he advised, should take matters into their own hands and not wait for the US to help them.
"There are two threats coming from Iran," Fandy said.
"A nuclear Iran and the intervention in the internal affairs of the Arab countries. I do not claim that our countries, some of which are important regional powers (Egypt and Saudi Arabia, for example) should quarrel with the US, but we must be aware of our destiny."
He noted that the recent summit in the Jordanian port of Aqaba, which brought together the leaders of Jordan, Egypt, Iraq and the UAE, is a good nucleus for a serious Arab dialogue on Iranian threats to Arab countries. (Asharq Al-Awsat, March 28, 2022)
Saudi journalist Mashari Al-Thaydi wrote that the recent meeting in the Negev Desert in Israel between the foreign ministers of Egypt, Israel, the UAE and Bahrain, in addition to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, came because the Arabs noticed that the Biden administration is at a loss regarding the Iranian role in the region.
"The Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and others, have repeatedly tried to enlighten Washington with the reality of the Iranian threat," Al-Thaydi wrote.
"The Negev Forum approved a plan for joint cooperation in confronting common dangers and threats, especially combating ballistic missiles and drones launched by Iran and its proxies at Arab countries. We see what Iran's proxies are doing in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain and Kuwait."
It is clear from these views that the Arabs are sending the following messages: First, that the US is losing its Arab allies and friends; second, that one year after Biden came to power, the Middle East is less secure and stable because of the threats and attacks by Iran and its proxies; third, that the Arabs feel betrayed and abandoned by the US, which has lost its credibility and prestige in the Middle East; fourth, that a new nuclear deal with Iran would pose a real threat not only to Arabs, but to Israel and the US as well.
Although many in the Arab world diplomatically refer to Biden's action as "mistakes," they appear to recognize that they are deliberate, and lacking in any consideration for the wellbeing of people who will have to continue living in the region -- which the Americans making these decisions for them will not.
The Biden administration's courtship of Iran, a state sponsor of terrorism, seems a replay of the same heartless, coldblooded lack of concern as the Americans showed for the people they were leaving behind when they pulled out of Afghanistan; and now, when the US is seen dragging its feet to avoid giving the Ukrainians enough weapons fast enough to defend themselves adequately from a Russian slaughtering army.
Many seem confused why the Biden administration would want this as their legacy.
If the human rights record of Saudi Arabia seems a problem, Arabs ask themselves why the human rights record of Iran -- which has murdered so many Americans over the years -- from the Marine barracks bombing of 1983 to the attacks on 9/11 -- is considered any better.
It remains to be seen whether the Biden administration will pay heed to these messages, or whether it will continue to march lock-step into the blood-covered arms of Iran's mullahs and their terrorist groups – Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and the Houthis. It is time for the Biden administration to decide which side it is on -- the terrorists and their masters in Tehran, Moscow and Beijing, or Washington's traditional and trustworthy allies in the Arab world.
Khaled Abu Toameh is an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem.