Assessing President Biden’s Visit to the Middle East

Juan Cole, a professor of history at the University of Michigan and editor-in-chief of Informed Comment, a weblog about politics and foreign policy, discusses the significance of President Biden’s recent trip to the Middle East. Cole is a non-resident fellow at Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), a non-profit founded by slain Saudi journalist Jamal Kashoggi. Despite the president’s vow when he took office to make human rights central to his administration, he met personally with Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, believed to have ordered the murder of Kashoggi. Biden is reported to have brought up Kashoggi’s killing; the crown prince pointed out the difference in the U.S. response to the killing of Kashoggi and to the recent Israeli killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.The Biden administration has been accused of whitewashing her murder. In Israel, Biden and the Israeli prime minister vowed Iran must not obtain nuclear weapons. Cole discusses behind-the-scene tensions between the United States and Israel over Iran, the prospects of re-starting the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration, the one-sided relationship of the United States to Israel and the Palestinians.


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