Monday 04 July, 2022

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Why Is Biden Helping Ukraine ‘Freedom Fighters’ While Supporting Middle East Dictators?

2022/05/08 23:05:00 | Adham Hamed | Reports
The U.S. administration has double standards when it comes to the Middle East
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Washington is sending arms to Europe to fight for democracy against Putin, while the U.S. weapons it sells to Arab dictators help defeat people's struggle for freedom.

This was the conclusion of an article by Emile Nakhleh published on the website of the American Quincy institute for Responsible Statecraft (QiOSK) magazine.

In his article, the author points out that the Biden administration is right to respond to reported Russian atrocities by arming Ukraine to defend itself, and is equally justified in avoiding direct military confrontation with Putin's Russia.

Having this said, given the economic and political impact of the Russian war in Ukraine on the Middle East, the people of the Middle East are experiencing many stark contradictions in how President Biden deals with the two regions.


Cost of Support

The USA’s “crusade” on Russia has not been well received. Until now, the Middle East’s position on following the U.S. footsteps in publicly supporting Ukraine is not quite well established.

Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has refused to condemn the Russian invasion, instead Saudi-Russian economic and diplomatic courtship is becoming more visible on the world stage despite American entreaties to the contrary.

The UAE has refused to vote against Russia and has not participated in the Western-led sanctions campaign against the former Soviet Union. Instead, it has provided a safe haven for Russian oligarchs to deposit their estates, yachts, and money, to avoid being confiscated by the U.S. sanction system.

According to Nakhleh, this failure to comply has urged president Biden and his Secretary of State Antony Blinken to feverishly try to convince Washington’s closest allies and biggest recipients of American weapons in the region to openly and forcefully condemn Putin’s acts of terror in Ukraine.

Hence, as a payoff for the Middle East tyrants’ support, the Biden administration has turned a blind eye to Arab peoples’ demands for justice and liberty.


'Military' Bribe

In Egypt, despite continuing concerns about Cairo's human rights record, the United States agreed in principle to two $2.56 billion arms sales to Egypt, including giant C-130 transport planes and radar systems. Washington has agreed to the two agreements to "improve Egypt's defense capabilities to address current and future threats," while noting that it will continue to press Cairo on the human rights issue, but said it agreed to the deal because Egypt "remains an important strategic partner in the Middle East," as prominent U.S. lawmakers increasingly oppose Egypt's sale of advanced weapons unless it improves its human rights record.

In Saudi Arabia, Under the Biden administration, Washington has stepped up scrutiny of Riyadh's human rights record and withdrawn its support for coalition offensive operations in Yemen. It also released a U.S. intelligence report implicating Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Pentagon said Thursday (November 4, 2021) that the State Department has approved a possible deal to sell 280 AM-120C air-to-air missiles to Saudi Arabia, worth up to $650 million. It was the first major U.S. arms deal for Saudi Arabia since President Joe Biden's administration came to power and adopted a policy of selling only defense weapons to its Gulf ally.

In Palestine, in March 2022 alone, Israeli security forces conducted a wide security campaign in the West Bank, killing at least 11 Palestinians, one of whom is a child, and arresting tens of people from their homes and streets.

Despite these human rights atrocities, arms sales and military aid worth billions of dollars continue to flow into Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, and other Arab and non-Arab countries in the region with little regard for their serial human rights violations, whether in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, or in the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza.

“The continued human tragedy in Yemen is but one example of the glaring contradictions in Washington’s approach to the two regions,” Nakhleh wrote.

“While it is true that Ukraine is being invaded by a foreign power and Arab countries are being violated by their own regimes, it makes no difference whether human rights and democratic values are being trampled upon by a foreign dictator or by an indigenous one,” he added.


Absence of Accountability

Nakhleh further noted that the recent gathering of Arab foreign ministers as part of a six-party summit with the U.S. Secretary of State and the Israeli Foreign Minister in southern Israeli occupation territories reversed an alliance against something or a state, for example, Iran and the Houthis, but not for a specific strategic goal that could benefit the peoples of the region.

Nor did the grouping represent larger Arab countries such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, or Algeria. It is interesting to note that the decision to attend Egypt’s summit came after reconsidering its lack of presence for fear of being marginalized in the Israeli–Arab rapprochement.

The writer noted that the meeting of Arab foreign ministers did not address Washington's demands for a stronger stance against Putin's war in Ukraine or the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen, Syria, and Gaza.

From an Arab perspective, an unpleasant reality emerged from the grouping: The Israeli occupation is the true power in the Arab Middle East, economically, militarily, technologically, and now diplomatically.

“Thanks to U.S. military support, Ukraine has a good chance to withstand and potentially defeat Russia’s aggression. The universal ideal of freedom and democracy for which people the world over aspire—whether in Ukraine, Myanmar, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, or Palestine—should be upheld and defended on principle and not according to cynical political calculations. This ideal is indivisible, not selective; global, not regional; and principled, not subject to political bargaining,” Nakhleh confirmed.





The stark contradictions of US policy in Ukraine and the Middle East