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Sunday, 17 July 2022

Mr Biden goes to Riyadh

The Big Biden meet: There were plenty of headlines coming out of US President Joe Biden’s much-hyped visit to Saudi Arabia over the weekend for a Jeddah-hosted summit with Arab leaders.

What happened: Biden made nice with KSA, including a face-to-face meeting (and fist bump) with MbS (which the Washington Post says caused a “snit online.”)

What didn’t happen: No Saudi recognition of Israel, no beatdown of Egypt, and no overt backing of our case for a proper settlement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Ittihadiya and the White House issued a joint statement that led (after the usual talk of “shared security”) with the US’ commitment to advancing Egypt’s economic prosperity — and a nod to how much we’re being squeezed by Putin’s war in Ukraine. Human rights and COP27 brought up the rear of the statement, which also touched on Israel-Palestine.

Sisi, Biden talk food and energy security: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi on Saturday met with the US president for the first time since he assumed office in 2021, an Ittihadiya statement read. Ways to face the global food crisis and disruptions to global energy supplies topped the agenda, according to the statement.

We’re getting USD 50 mn from the US to bolster food security, Biden told El Sisi, according to the joint statement. This is part of USD 1 bn of fresh assistance to improve the region’s food supply announced by the president during the summit.

A word on the war: “The United States and Egypt share particular concerns over the severe global consequences that stem from the war in Ukraine,” the statement said, adding that “the blockading of Black Sea ports has triggered rising food insecurity and levied significant economic pressures on Egypt.”

DOMESTIC REAX-

The nation’s talking heads were all about the big Biden meet last night: Everyone and their mothers were talking about Biden’s visit to the region in KSA. The summit received coverage from Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 55:15), El Hekaya (watch, runtime: 7:51), Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 3:02) and Kelma Akhira, who had on professor Moataz Abdelfattah (watch, runtime: 13:46).

Also from the Biden-Arab summit:

  • No Saudi promises on oil: The US and Saudi Arabia “renewed their commitment towards the stability of global oil prices” in a joint communique, but Saudi Arabia appears not to have responded to Biden’s calls to up production to help alleviate the current price squeeze. (SPA)
  • US troops will leave the Red Sea island of Tiran by the end of the year, Biden announced following meetings with King Salman and MbS, according to a statement by the White House. The move is part of a plan to finalize the transfer of sovereignty of the Tiran and Sanafir islands from Egypt to Saudi Arabia, which could pave the way to Saudi Arabia and Israel normalizing ties. AFP has more.
  • Saudi Arabia opened its airspace to flights from Israel on Friday. (Times of Israel)

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