Blinken’s Failed Saudi Visit

Developments during Secretary of State Blinken’s visit to Saudi Arabia fit with growing speculations about the Gulf Cooperation Council becoming more autonomous of the U.S., writes Abdul Rahman.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meeting with foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council in in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on June 7. (State Department/Hisham Mousa)

By Abdul Rahman
Peoples Dispatch

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken concluded his three-day visit to Saudi Arabia last Thursday. He was the second top U.S. official to visit the kingdom in less than a month, after National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

His visit was widely seen as a desperate attempt by the Joe Biden administration to hold on to its “closest ally” in the West Asian region.   

Before Blinken started his tour, he had stated that normalization of Saudi-Israel relations was one of the top priorities of his government.

However, reports indicate that Blinken not only failed to get any assurance from the Saudis on that front, but had to concede some crucial ground on significant regional issues. 

During his tour, Blinken met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on June 6, attended a Gulf Cooperation Council foreign ministers’ meet in Riyadh on June 7 and a meeting of a so-called Global Coalition to defeat ISIS on June 8.  

AIPAC Speech Hours Before Departure

Hours before he traveled to Saudi Arabia, Blinken addressed a meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a pro-Israel lobbying group in the U.S., claiming that the Biden administration “has a real national security interest in promoting normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia.”

He also noted that there are no real prospects of a two-state solution in the near future and that his government will not push for it.  

A few days later, on June 8, before leaving Saudi Arabia, Blinken addressed a press conference in Riyadh jointly with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, where he reiterated his government’s resolve to work for Israel-Saudi normalization.

However, Blinken was contradicted by Faisal bin Farhan who pointed out that “normalization of ties with Israel will have limited benefit without a pathway to peace for the Palestinians.”  

Blinken with Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan at a press conference in Riyadh on June 7. (State Department/Hisham Mousa)

Earlier, Blinken ended up committing to work for the resolution of the conflict in Palestine and the creation of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders in a joint statement issued a day after his meeting with the GCC foreign ministers.

The statement, without naming Israel, underlined “the need to refrain from all unilateral measures that undermine a two-state solution and escalate tensions, to preserve the historic status quo in Jerusalem’s holy sites.”

Two of the GCC members, Bahrain and the U.A.E., have already “normalized” their relations with Israel under the so-called Abraham Accords mediated by the U.S.  

The statement indicated that the U.S. may have conceded crucial geopolitical ground on other issues as well. For example, while it raised the issue of “freedom of navigation and maritime security in the region,” hinting at alleged Iranian threats, it welcomed the restoration of diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia in a reversal of the U.S. earlier cautious tone.

Supporting Peace in Yemen 

Blinken with Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah on June 7. (State Department/ Zinna Senbetta)

The statement also supported the ongoing peace efforts in Yemen and expressed the need for an inclusive intra-Yemeni political process. This is despite the fact that the Biden administration has maintained that the Houthis are Iranian allies and the war in Yemen is a proxy war.

Successive U.S. governments since Barack Obama have provided billions of dollars of weapons to Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners to be used against the civilian population in Yemen.  

In another significant development, the U.S. seems to have toned down its objections to Arab countries’ normalizing their relations with Syria. The joint statement expressed support for the Arab countries’ “efforts to resolve the [Syrian] crisis in a step-for-step manner.”

The statement reiterated that peace in the country should be on the basis of U.N. Security Council resolution 2254 (2015) and expressed commitments to Syria’s unity and sovereignty.

This is despite some GCC countries, such as Qatar and Kuwait — close allies of the U.S.  — expressing their dissent at the normalization with Syria. The U.S. had earlier stated that the U.S. does not “support normalization with Damascus” or “others normalizing this.”  

The outcome of Blinken’s visit to Saudi Arabia is similar to the outcome of President Joe Biden’s visit to the Kingdom last year when he failed to convince MBS to increase oil production to ease global prices. It fits into growing speculations about the GCC becoming more autonomous and no longer toeing the U.S. line.

Abdul Rahman is a correspondent for Peoples Dispatch.

This article is from Peoples Dispatch.  

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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10 comments for “Blinken’s Failed Saudi Visit

  1. TS
    June 14, 2023 at 14:58

    No surprise that Blinken is still promoting the “two-state solution”, when even Foreign Affairs has published an article aknowledging that it is dead as a doornail, and the real issue is what will the nature of the one state “from the River to the Sea” will be, who will live there, and how they will coexist.

  2. Michael brian Chebo
    June 13, 2023 at 09:03

    Thank you

  3. Rex Williams
    June 12, 2023 at 21:21

    Having little interest in Saudi following its vindictive actions against Yemen, its merciless bombing against civilian targets and its ability to use the assistance of all the warlike countries such as the UK, US, Israel and France to support their dirty games, creating as it has a level of living in Yemen which cannot be corrected for years. It was an international c crime, but not according to the feeble UN. Yet another pathetic attempt for their record book, yet another US controlled entity.
    But the Saudi move away from Israel has a lot of value for that part of the world, which because of the US and its low level of oil reserves, will always see the likes of Blinken, another Israeli stooge, down on his knees to get back some control over Saudi and its policies.

    But China was the instrument used to help Yemen and Saudi, now known to all, a fact that is now sticking in the craw of the hegemonic US. Let it remain so.

    The above, together with the trend away from the US dollar as the international trading currency, will see the US empire start to crumble and not before time.
    There is not one aggravation anywhere in the world where the US is not the major contributor, but their subservience to a parasitic Israel is a burden it has allowed and encouraged to happen. That will never change and the US will eventually pay the price.

  4. Subhuti37
    June 12, 2023 at 20:54

    Nobody takes Blinken seriously. He’s a case study in insincerity and manipulation. He’s lucky they met him at all, much less out up with him for three days.

    • Robert
      June 13, 2023 at 10:39

      I believe that the Foreign Ministers of China, Russia, India, and Saudi Arabia have the exact same impression of Blinken that you do. How this war addicted lunatic wobbles from one position of power to another tells us a lot about the Deep State. Same with Nuland and Sullivan.

  5. Jeff Harrison
    June 12, 2023 at 18:01

    Now all that needs to happen is for the US to get kicked out of Syria and Iraq.

  6. Valerie
    June 12, 2023 at 13:48

    “Blinken’s Failed Saudi Visit”

    “A picture is worth a thousand words”. I see the same look of contempt on MBS’s face, which was the same look he had when Biden met him last year. It looks like contempt to me.

    • Gerry L Forbes
      June 14, 2023 at 02:29

      This picture is worth a million words. As someone on Moon of Alabama pointed out there is no American flag behind Blinken although others in the same position (including Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov) were accorded that standard diplomatic honour.

      • Valerie
        June 14, 2023 at 11:03

        And if that’s not an act of contempt, i don’t know what is.

  7. Tim N
    June 12, 2023 at 12:58

    Some good developments. We’ll see how things go, but there seems to be a consensus building that the US needs to cool it.

Comments are closed.