Prominent US congress members have welcomed President Joe Biden’s trip to the Middle East. Wide criticism leveled against the Biden administration for its dealing with the Iranian file turned into calls for fixing strained relations with the region’s countries.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, senior Republican in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Jim Risch considered that Biden has a serious shortfall in his credibility, a matter which must be fixed with US partners in the Middle East.
Citing the withdrawal from Afghanistan, the promoted transition to the Indo-Pacific, the hardline policies of arms sales, and the policy with Iran that threaten the security of Washington’s partners, Risch said that Biden must reassure the region that the US will remain a reliable partner.
Risch warned that if Biden fails to do so, he risks losing the region to Russia and China.
The senator also criticized the current administration's performance, explaining that many domestic partners believe that the president’s political capital is deteriorating rapidly, and they are anxiously awaiting the next administration.
Risch voiced his fears that Biden’s visit to the Middle could be late.
According to Risch, the administration has finally begun to change course about some of its harmful policies in the Middle East, especially with regard to the Abraham Accords, but many of these steps have been delayed.
The senator emphasized that the policy with Iran remains the main sticking point.
In view of that, Risch accused the US administration of threatening the security of its allies in the Middle East with its efforts to return to the Iran nuclear deal.
The agreement is still fraught with problems, said Risch about the Iran nuclear deal.
It completely fails to address Iran's domestic terrorism and its ballistic missile program, he told Asharq Al-Awsat, adding that Tehran's efforts to provide hundreds of drones to Russia for use in Ukraine was not helping either.
After the nuclear deal was reached in 2015, sanctions waivers increased Iran’s support for terrorism, noted the senator, adding that such an agreement will also provide a lifeline for Russia during its aggression against Ukraine.
There is a fundamental conflict between the president’s approach to Iran and US national security interests with partners in Israel and the Middle East.
According to Risch, it is better to leave the negotiations table instead of getting confused while sitting at it.
Israel and Gulf states have expressed their sincere interest in building new security relations to protect themselves against the Iranian threat.
On that matter, Risch said that the Biden administration must indulge in these efforts.
Positions of this kind are not limited to Republicans. Even prominent Democratic leaders have expressed similar positions, despite their timid reservations about direct and scathing criticism of the Biden administration.
US Senator Bob Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released a statement in advance of Biden’s trip to Israel, the West Bank, and Saudi Arabia.
“President Biden’s visit to Israel, the West Bank, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia should underscore that the United States has not walked back its commitment to the region, and in fact will continue to lead with diplomacy and convene partners around a common vision,” the statement read.
“It should unite regional actors as a strong counter-weight to an Iran intent on bolstering its nuclear capabilities and menacing its neighbors,” it added.