Biden’s upcoming trip to the Middle East opposes human rights against Realpolitik

President Joe Biden will travel to Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia in July as part of efforts to restore relations in the Middle East and North Africa. Human rights groups are not happy.

“Biden must not normalize the killings and imprisonment of journalists, but must instead demand responsibility and the release of journalists behind bars.” said The Committee to Protect Journalists, a group that fights for freedom of the press. At his bus stop in Saudi Arabia specifically, 13 human rights organizations warn that “efforts to restore US relations with the Saudi government without a genuine commitment to human rights are not only a betrayal of your election promises, but are likely to encourage the heir to the throne to further violate international human rights and humanitarian law.” right. ”

The outrage over Biden’s visit to Israel stems from the recent one death to Shirin Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American reporter for Al Jazeera who was shot in the head while covering an Israeli military operation in Jenin, a large Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank. Witnesses say she was deliberately killed and targeted by Israeli soldiers, despite wearing a vest for the press.

The Israeli government has with a stone wall investigation into Akleh’s death due to disagreements with the Palestinian Authority over the seizure of bullets found at the scene. We saw about four or five [Israeli] military vehicles on this street with rifles sticking out of them and one of them shot Shiren. We were standing right there, we saw him, “said an eyewitness he said CNN. The same eyewitness also testified that no Palestinians present at the scene were armed, a statement that contradicted official Israeli reports that both sides were carrying weapons this morning.

Akle’s death complicated the Biden administration’s reports of a visit to Israel. “We have clarified our point of view to Israel and the Palestinian Authority that we expect …[a] a thorough, transparent and impartial investigation into the circumstances surrounding her murder and in a manner that ends in responsibility, ” said State Department spokesman Ned Price stops in addition to condemning the soldiers who allegedly opened fire on a group of unarmed journalists.

“[The Abu Akleh case] is just another example of the administration’s respectful approach to the Bennett government, “said Dov Waxman, a UCLA professor and director of the Younes and Soraya Nazaryan Center for Israeli Studies. The reason. According to Waxman, the Biden administration has focused on keeping the government of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who appears to be a more balanced geopolitical partner than former right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Bennett’s coalition that has united right-wing Jewish parties with Arab parties for the first time in Israeli history is also fragile.

“They have been very careful to avoid doing something that would create a kind of public dispute between them and the Bennett government, or to do something that could put the Bennett government in a precarious position in the internal market,” he said. Waxman.

“Ultimately, the priority for the Biden administration is the survival of the current Israeli government and keeping Netanyahu out of power,” Waxman said. “This is in place of his relationship with the Palestinian Authority [Palestinian Liberation Organization]. ”

Meanwhile, human rights groups want to see more action by the United States in the Abu Akle case. “It feels like betrayal to meet this crowd.” Sheriff Mansour, journalist and human rights activisthe says. “It’s always been a test of Biden’s rhetoric about human rights and democracy.

As she is an American citizen, the murder of Abu Akle can be investigated by the FBI. Mansour wants the Biden administration to pursue this option in addition to pressure from Israel and Palestine to share information so that a proper investigation can be conducted.

Last summer, during a wave of protests, the Israeli government bombed the office building that housed the Associated Press office in Gaza. Since 1992, the Committee to Protect Journalists has reported more than 20 deaths of journalists in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, some of whom appeared to be deliberately targeted like Abu Akleh.

The US response to the assassination of Abu Akleh has been compared to the assassination of Jamal Hashoghi, a Saudi Arabian dissident and American employee hired by The Washington Post. It was Kashogi killed in 2018 by Saudi agents in Turkey by order of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, allegedly because of his reports, which were critical of Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy and the style of governing the heir to the throne. As Biden is expected to stop in Saudi Arabia, as well as in Israel, the comparison between the two killings has become even clearer.

Although it seems that Biden is ready to ignore Kashogi’s death in order to do so healed America’s access to Saudi oil, he at least recorded, explicitly condemned the killing. At the primary debate in November 2019, Biden said he would “do [Saudi Arabia] pariah that they are “and to stop arms sales to the Middle Eastern nation. A month after Biden took office, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haynes released a government report confirming that the heir to the throne led the assassination. The administration too delayed most arms sales to Saudi Arabia, in light of its continued involvement in the brutal civil war in Yemen.

John Alterman, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, notes that there are issues on the agenda that go beyond oil prices. He points to the administration’s strategy for Iran, especially when the United States tries to do so restrict the expansion of Iran’s and Saudi Arabia’s nuclear programs work on hydrogen production as examples of complex issues that US and Saudi officials will discuss.

For many analysts in the Middle East, Biden’s trip is a signal of pragmatism. “A successful foreign policy for a global power like the United States cannot choose values ​​over interests.” wrote Foreign Affairs Council President Richard Haas in a recent article. “What the Biden administration is considering in Saudi Arabia seems to be rebalancing.

According to Alterman, Kashogi’s murder should be considered like all other factors. “While [abuses] continue, they will thwart Americans ‘desire to engage with the kingdom as a whole and Americans’ confidence that the system in Saudi Arabia is transparent and fair and an opportunity for them.

“But that does not mean that abuses in Saudi Arabia automatically disqualify the United States. [from] having something to do with the kingdom, “he continues.” That doesn’t seem to be the right answer. “

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