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President Biden’s Magical Thinking in the Middle East

Jon Hoffman

According to a new report in the Wall Street Journal, the Biden administration is close to finalizing a proposed treaty with Saudi Arabia that would include a formal US security guarantee for the kingdom and assistance from the United States in facilitating a civilian nuclear program, if Riyadh normalizes relations with Israel.

The treaty, the “Strategic Alliance Agreement,” is supposedly modeled on Washington’s security pact with other partners, such as Japan and South Korea, and would therefore require a two‐​thirds majority vote in the Senate for approval. However, Saudi Arabia has insisted that to move forward Israel must end its military campaign in Gaza and rhetorically commit to a “pathway” toward a two‐​state solution with Palestinians, something Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly rejected.

Though its future is uncertain, this effort by Washington should be denounced for what it is: an extension of a failed US Middle East policy.

President Biden’s unceasing drive for this “mega‐​deal” is rooted in the same magical thinking that has repeatedly brought the United States to ruin in the Middle East. This deal would achieve nothing for the United States, binding our regional policies to a principal source of instability in the Middle East, while planting the seeds for future disorder.

Saudi Arabia is not an ally—no amount of concessions to the kingdom will change this. Failure to abandon this disastrous agenda risks formalizing Washington’s commitment to a cycle of turmoil that will continue to impact the region—and undermine US interests—for generations.

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