The Middle East is in a state of flux. Alliances are being renewed, enemies are coming to the negotiating tables.
Visits, summits and meeting are organized one after another. The only missing piece in the new Middle East equation, where Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and even Jordan come to the fore, is Turkey.
While President Joe Biden has determined his new Middle East policy in the U.S., he has signaled repeatedly that he will not include Turkey in the new regional game. High-level visits over the past few weeks seem to support that analysis.
SAUDI DEFENSE MINISTER’S VISIT TO WASHINGTON
Saudi Arabia again appears to be one of the leading actors in the new Middle East equation. The Biden administration has resumed working with the House of Saud after keeping some distance following the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The brother of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Deputy Defense Minister, Prince Khalid, who is considered the ‘instigator’ of Khashoggi’s murder, went to the U.S. capital to hold talks. All issues in the Middle East from Iran to Syria, and notably Yemen, were reportedly discussed.
Prince Khalid, who is the highest-ranking official to pay a visit to the U.S. capital following Khashoggi’s murder, appeared to get a stamp of approval from high-level U.S. officials. Despite being only the Deputy Minister, managed to secure appointments with both the U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Biden’s National Security Advisor.
Meanwhile, new information shows that Egypt was also involved in Khashoggi’s murder. News released in the American press suggests that the Saudi officials who killed Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul stopped in Egypt to picked up some sort of poison before they came to Turkey. According to the news based on findings of the American intelligence community, Khashoggi was murdered with this poison first, then he was dismembered.)
KING OF JORDAN AND PRIME MINISTER OF IRAQ TO MEET BIDEN
Washington will also receive King Abdullah of Jordan following the visit of Prince Khalid. It makes sense that a White House meeting, which wasn’t granted to President Erdogan ‘due to Biden’s heavy schedule’ has been given to the Jordanian King.
Iraqi Prime Minister Kadhimi will convene with the U.S. President Biden at the White House shortly after King Abdullah.
This busy Washington traffic reveals the actors in the Middle East who will do business with the Biden administration in the upcoming period.
IRAN-SAUDI TALKS IN IRAQ
What puts final touches on the picture is the signs that the U.S. administration, which is planning to withdraw militarily from the Middle East to use its power to encircle China, won’t leave the region before it ‘reconciles the enemies.’The Saudi Arabia-Iran meeting held in Iraq was the first step toward this. It’s clear that there is neither a ‘winner’ in the Saudi-Iran conflict in Yemen nor has the war contributed to the region’s stability. The U.S. administration seems to be working through Iraq for Yemen’s stability. It’s worthy to note here that Yemen again was the first item in the meeting with Saudi Prince Khalid. It’s necessary to add to all these that the nuclear talks between the U.S. and Iran weren’t interrupted despite the new, conservative President in Tehran. In fact, progress, albeit small, has been made in talks.
Concerns over the direction Israel would take in the region after its recent electoral shake up have been reduced as the coalition government is focused on inwards during the post-Netanyahu period.
LIBYA AND SYRIA UP NEXT
The Libya and Syria crises are the only challenges left ahead of the U.S. before it focuses on the Asia-Pacific region.
Things in Libya seem to be in full swing, including the withdrawal of all foreign military forces from the country, based on the statement coming out of the Second Berlin Conference. News that Russia and Turkey have mutually agreed on withdrawing mercenary soldiers is the sign of that.
The United Arab Emirates seems to be on board with recognizing the Assad administration in Syria and it appears the Saudis will also follow behind, both crucial components to stability in that country.
Despite Turkey’s objections, both the U.S. and Russia seem like they have accepted the PYD -YPG structuring – by adding more Arab elements to the administration in the upcoming period – in areas outside the Assad regime’s control in northern Syria.
On the other hand, Idlib, in which Turkey and Russia often confront each other, has turned into ‘a little regional problem’ in Syria as the Assad administration has seized control of highways linking big cities with each other. As the U.S. is quite keen on ‘disciplining ’ both Moscow and the Assad administration at times through a center in Idlib, where opposition elements are based, it’s possible to say that this center will continue to be held by the opposition. However, it won’t have an impact on the big Syria picture that much.
THE ROLE PROVIDED FOR TURKEY
In this whole picture, the role provided for Turkey appears to be disturbing the Russians and Assad in Idlib and the control of Kabul Airport in Afghanistan.
The trouble is that the government in Ankara looks like it has its heart in this role in the Middle East, which can only be characterized as a ‘bit part’…