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Biden's Trip to Saudi Arabia is About More Than Pumping Oil | US Politics In :60 | GZERO Media

Biden's trip to Saudi Arabia is about more than pumping oil

Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares his perspective on US politics:

What is President Biden hoping to achieve by visiting Saudi Arabia?

This week the White House announced that President Joe Biden would make a visit to the Middle East. The most important part of the trip will be a stop in Saudi Arabia and a visit with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The President came into office saying he wanted to make the Saudis pariahs for their history of human rights abuses, including the kingdom's involvement in the 9/11 attacks, the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and an ongoing war in Yemen that has resulted in tens of thousands of civilian casualties. But unfortunately for President Biden, his Middle East strategy has followed the Mike Tyson maxim that everyone has a plan until they're punched in the mouth.

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Will Biden say sorry to MBS?

Bizarre marriages of convenience dominate the geopolitical landscape: Russia and China; Iran and Venezuela; Israel and Turkey. The list goes on.

When President Biden came into office, he said he wouldn’t give a “blank check” to the world’s autocrats, including those associated with longtime US allies.

As part of his human-rights focused foreign policy, Biden rejected any dialogue with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), the 36-year-old de facto Saudi leader who’s credited with big reforms like allowing Saudi women to drive. He’s also overseen acts of incredible brutality, including the murder of dissident-journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the scorched-earth military campaign in Yemen.

But two years in and ample crises later, Biden is ready to sit down for a face-to-face with MBS next month in Riyadh. Why the massive about-face?

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Johnson meets Swedish PM Magdalena Andersson in Stockholm.

EYEPRESS via Reuters Connect

What We're Watching: UK-Nordic security pact, Biden-ASEAN summit, King Abdullah II at the White House

Boris Johnson embraces NATO-bound Nordics

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed security declarations on Wednesday with Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö. These documents are promises that if either Nordic country is attacked, Britain will come to its aid. In return, Sweden and Finland promise the same support for the United Kingdom. Asked for specifics, Johnson said his government would offer “whatever Sweden requested" and would “share more intelligence, bolster military exercises, and further joint development of technology.” On specific weapons, the UK PM said that would be determined by what was requested. These are simply political promises, not security guarantees of the kind NATO membership offers. But this show of solidarity comes at a sensitive moment; Finland and Sweden are widely expected to announce their application for NATO membership in the coming days, and their governments have warned that the “gray zone” period between formal application and certain acceptance will leave them vulnerable to various forms of Russian aggression. Meanwhile, Russia’s offensive in Ukraine continues, and US intelligence now believes Moscow is planning for a long war with intentions of achieving “goals beyond the Donbas.”

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Putin Created the Very Pro-Western Ukraine That He Wanted To Avoid | The Red Pen | GZERO Media

Putin is responsible for bloodshed in Ukraine, and Ukraine's pro-Western positions

Does the West ultimately bear the responsibility for the crisis in Ukraine? Political scientist John Mearsheimer argues in a recent op-ed in The Economist that while Vladimir Putin started the war, it was NATO's "reckless" expansion that provoked Russia to attack. In this episode of The Red Pen — where we do our best to keep op-eds honest — Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analysts Graeme Thompson and Zachary Witlin review Mearsheimer's points and show that nothing the West did, or didn't do, caused Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

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Russia-Ukraine War: How We Got Here | Quick Take | GZERO Media

Russia-Ukraine war: How we got here

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here and happy Monday to you all. Plenty going on. Of course, still very much focused first and foremost, on the war in Ukraine, the Russians continuing to fight, shifting the battle ground primarily to the southeast around Donbas but of course, engaging in bombing and artillery all over the country and negotiations frankly nowhere close to resolution.

But I wanted to talk a little bit about how we got here, why this happened. And it goes without saying, but still needs to be said that of course, the direct responsibility for this invasion is on President Putin 100%. There was no justification, you could not remotely claim that Ukraine's government needed to be denazified. There was no act of genocide being committed against Russians on the ground in the occupied territories. This was all fake and Putin is responsible for the atrocities on the ground for the damage to the Ukrainian economy, for the incredible loss of life we see happening across the country, including to his own forces. He's responsible for all of that.

But how did we get here? Why did it happen? And if you want to have that conversation, you can't just talk about Russia, you have to talk about the West. And I think it's worth spending a little time on that.

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Why Israel Now Supports an Iran Nuclear Deal | GZERO World

Why Israel now supports an Iran nuclear deal

Israel fiercely opposed the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, but now is not so against it as it was before.

Why?

Ali Vaez, Iran project director at the International Crisis Group, says the Israelis have realized that a no-deal scenario doesn't serve the country's interest — and that the Trump administration's 2018 withdrawal was a mistake because it brought Iran closer to getting the bomb.

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Ian Explains: The Iran Nuclear Deal | GZERO World

The Iran nuclear deal

The Iran nuclear deal was enacted in 2015 to stop Tehran from getting the bomb in exchange for economic sanctions relief. At the time it was a big win — especially for the Obama administration.

But not everyone was a fan. Critics say the deal only slowed down the nuclear program, didn’t address Iran's support for Hezbollah, and hardly reset US-Iran ties.

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The US Can’t Let Iran Get Any Closer to Nuclear Weapons, Says Iran Expert Ali Vaez | GZERO World

The US can’t let Iran get any closer to nuclear weapons, says Iran expert Ali Vaez

Even if the US rejoins the Iran nuclear deal, many Republicans are fiercely opposed to it — and could withdraw again in 2025 if they win the White House in two years.

Why do it at all then? Ali Vaez, Iran program director at the International Crisis Group, has some thoughts.

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