The crisis between the Biden administration and the Arab countries is so deep that it could take years, if not decades, to repair the damage caused to America’s interests in the Middle East.
By Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute
Many Arabs are continuing to express deep disappointment with the policies of the Biden administration in the Middle East, especially regarding Iran’s role in destabilizing security and stability in Arab countries that once trusted the U.S. as a reliable and trustworthy ally.
These Arabs say that President Joe Biden is following in the footsteps of former President Barack Obama, who preferred to reach a nuclear deal with Iran at the expense of Washington’s Arab friends and allies in the Middle East.
The Arabs are further saying that the policies and actions of the Biden administration are harming not only America’s allies, but also the interests of the U.S.
“The notorious agreement unleashed Iran’s hand, allowing it to tamper with the security and stability of the region,” wrote Syrian political analyst Rami Alkhalifa Alali.
“Tehran began spreading havoc and destruction throughout the region. Meanwhile, Washington neglected the region and started talking about its interest in Southeast Asia, so the situation in Syria deteriorated and became an arena for Iranian militias. The scenario was repeated in Iraq, where the U.S. forged an alliance with Iran’s militias on the pretext of striking at the Islamic State (ISIS), a situation that created instability in Iraq. In Lebanon, it turned a blind eye to the expansion of the Hezbollah terrorist organization.
“It is true that Washington has the right to search for its interests, but there are several options to achieve interests… It is simply possible to choose the best method that does not harm the interests of the [Arab] partners. The American message has arrived, so the countries of the region are also searching for their interests.
“Perhaps the biggest test is the Ukrainian war and energy policy. The Arab countries are proving that their interests are at the top of their priorities. Washington must lay real foundations to restore traditional partnerships with Arab countries if it wants a better understanding and fruitful results.”
‘Apologizing for elimination of Soleimani’
Saudi writer Mohammed Al-Saed expressed concern over reports that the Biden administration was considering removing Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from the list of terrorist organizations “and recognize it as a peaceful organization that serves humanity.”
“It is understood that the Biden government wants to atone for the killing of Qassem Soleimani,” Al-Saed wrote, referring to the former IRGC commander who was assassinated in a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad two years ago.
The Saudi writer described the decision taken by former President Donald Trump to assassinate Soleimani as “huge, important and courageous.”
The Biden administration, he said, wants to send a message to Iran and its leaders that “the Democratic administration headed by Barack Obama is not happy with what Trump did and apologize for the elimination of the terrorist Soleimani.”
Al-Saed predicted that the Revolutionary Guards will soon become an organization whose chiefs are received in Washington by the heads of the U.S. security services.
“Let us remember and remind the Americans of a number of the crimes of the terrorist Iranian Revolutionary Guards and its tyranny in their blood, as well as the shedding of innocent blood,” he remarked.
“In 1979 Iranian students established their own group, which over time turned into an extremist military organization under the name of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The group seized control of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Two years later the Iranian Revolutionary Guard carried out a direct operation against the American Army and the Marines. Two truck bombs struck buildings in Lebanon that housed American and French soldiers, killing 307 individuals, including 241 Americans and 58 French soldiers and innocent civilians.
“In 1996, terrorists linked to Iran and the Revolutionary Guards, and their Hezbollah proxy attacked a residential complex in Al-Khobar, eastern Saudi Arabia, killing and wounding many American experts and other innocent people. Since 1990, Iran has turned into an incubator for Al-Qaeda and ISIS.
“The events of September 11  came on top of those crimes, which were committed by Osama bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri, all of whom had the support of Iran. In the aftermath of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Iran fueled the horrific killings and bombings that affected the U.S. Army through different cells that were driven by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Thousands of American soldiers were killed.”
Al-Saed said that in light of Washington’s policy of appeasing the mullahs in Tehran, “no one should be surprised if the Biden administration presents letters of apology to the terrorist Osama bin Laden and the criminal [slain ISIS leader] Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. Moreover, no one should be surprised if we see the leaders of IRGC, Al-Qaeda and the [Iranian-backed] Houthi militia welcomed at the White House as allies. This is what the extreme Left in the U.S. has produced.”
‘What does Washington want?’
Sawsan Al-Sha’er, one of Bahrain’s most influential journalists, pointed out that while the Houthi militia was bombing the Saudi city of Jeddah last week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken congratulated Iran on the occasion of Nowruz, a holiday marking the arrival of spring and the first day of the year in Iran.
“The Houthis bomb Jeddah, Biden rewards Iran… The Biden administration knows that Iran finances the Houthi group and supplies it with missiles. The Biden administration congratulates Iran and wants to remove the Revolutionary Guards from the list of terrorism. What kind of an ally are we talking about? Does this administration realize how far it is from us? Does it realize the impact of this on the future of its relations [with the Arabs] and even on the interests of the Americans themselves?”
Lebanese television presenter and journalist Nadim Koteich noted the hypocrisy of the Biden administration in opposing the recent visit by Syrian President Bashar Assad to Abu Dhabi.
The U.S. State Department said it was “deeply disappointed and disturbed” by Assad’s visit.
Koteich acknowledged the “brutality” of the Assad regime, but said that the Biden administration, which is “disappointed” by the Arab normalization with Assad, is “desperate for normalization with the Iranian regime, without taking into account the atrocities that the Revolutionary Guards practiced against the Syrians.”
“The fact of the matter is that Iran’s share of the Syrian bloodbath is immeasurably greater than that of Assad himself, who would not have remained at the head of the regime had it not been for the intervention of Iran’s militias… How can Washington’s speech and political behavior be consistent with a smooth openness to Khamenei and a willingness to remove the Revolutionary Guards from the terrorist list on the one hand, and objecting to opening up to Assad on the other hand?
“The American objection could have been understood if there was a well-defined and clear American policy in Syria. But there is no American policy in Syria other than placing Syria entirely in the hands of Iran.”
Koteich pointed out that Assad’s visit to the Gulf state came on the eve of a prospective nuclear agreement with Iran, which will release huge cash that will allow the mullahs to use it to gain more influence with the Syrian regime.
“The visit takes place at a moment of unprecedented collision between major Gulf capitals and Washington as a result of a growing impression that America is withdrawing from the Middle East, leading to the destruction of the foundations of stability. The breakdown of trust between the moderate Arab countries and America began in 2011, when the administration of President Barack Obama abandoned the support of its strategic ally in Egypt. What does Washington want?”
‘Deep American misunderstanding’
Veteran Lebanese journalist Kheirallah Kheirallah wrote that the Houthi drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia “are nothing but evidence of the Biden administration’s ignorance of the Houthis, their role, and the depth of the ties between them and the Iranian regime.”
Kheriallah noted that the Houthi militia rejects any settlement to the civil war in Yemen and seeks to assist Iran in establishing a foothold in the Arab region. “This is what the U.S. administrations could never comprehend… The Biden administration went further than others in placating the Houthis. It encouraged Iran to turn Yemen into a base for Iranian missiles and drones.”
“This is more than enough reason for the Arab countries in the region to take a cautious stance on U.S. policy,” he added. “There is a deep American misunderstanding of what happened and is still going on in Yemen. The basis for this misunderstanding is ignorance of the nature of the Houthi movement, which has a very close relationship with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.”
Echoing the growing anxiety of many Arabs, Kheirallah expressed fear that the Biden administration is ready to capitulate to Iran in a deal related to its nuclear program.
“This means that America, whose president declares that he is ready to confront Russia in case it attacks any member state of NATO, is not concerned with what Iran is doing in the Gulf region. On the contrary, we see that this administration is emboldening Iran.”
The voices emanating from the Arab world demonstrate the degree to which many Arab countries feel that their confidence in the U.S. has been crushed. These Arabs believe that their daily warnings against the Biden administration’s policy of appeasement towards Iran and its terrorist proxies are falling on deaf ears at the White House.
What is coming through loud and clear, however, to other observers, is that the crisis between the Biden administration and the Arab countries, especially the Gulf states, is so deep that it could take years, if not decades, to repair the damage caused to America’s interests in the Middle East.