President Biden’s first move in the Middle East sets a tone starkly different from the Obama Administration.
“Blocking this sale of tanks will be interpreted by our Gulf partners, not just Saudi Arabia, as another sign that the United States of America is abandoning our commitment in the region and is an unreliable security partner,” Arizona Senator John McCain stated in 2016 regarding the $1.15 billion arms deal brokered during the Obama Administration.
The arms deal was a headline amongst a Presidential reign which sought to have a strong influence over the future of the Middle East. Obama publicly denounced the ability of outside actors to treat the real causes of conflict yet did not shy away from keeping the status quo of military support for the most powerful actors in the Middle East.
President Biden was of course a member of the Obama White House, but today took a stance to limit the involvement of the United States. Not that the United States acts in any bold part militarily as it stands, but it is seen as a largely symbolic move. A move which is one part of Biden’s direction to normalise the United States back onto the world stage as a respected superpower, and one which can be counted on to be the arbiter of reason and stay on the correct side of history.
Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have been fighting Saudi-led forces for the better part of half a decade. Many debate whether a neutral United States will change the face of the military conflict, as the United States military currently does not play a huge role in the conflict, but some foresee this statement by the Biden Administration will limit even the airborne refuelling of Saudi-led aircraft. Only time will tell whether this has anything more than a symbolic effect on the conflict, but if it can signify a change the behaviours of the countries involved, an ever-increasing death toll – now surpassing 200,000 – can be muted.