Former US envoy to Israel David Friedman told Breitbart in an exclusive interview that President Joe Biden made a grave mistake in condemning Saudi Arabia as a “pariah,” and if the Trump administration were still in office, Riyadh would have already established diplomatic ties with Jerusalem.
Friedman’s comments come amid reports that Saudi Arabia is in talks with Israel to publicly improve ties, and an official White House announcement that Biden will visit both countries on his trip to the region next month.
According to Friedman, Biden’s overtures to Saudi Arabia are an attempt to go back on his campaign promise to make Riyadh a “pariah” after the United States concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman orchestrated the grisly assassination of Saudi Arabia. Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
Biden’s sea change, Friedman argued, is focused solely on scoring points before the midterms by lowering the price of gasoline.
Calling Saudi Arabia a pariah “was Biden’s mistake,” Friedman said.
“The opportunity that Saudi Arabia presents for a safer and more prosperous Middle East is tremendous and Biden should have taken advantage of the progress we made and taken additional steps,” the former ambassador said.
According to Friedman, ties between the United States and Saudi Arabia were warm when Donald Trump left office, and the administration had made “great progress” in establishing ties between Riyadh and Jerusalem.
President Donald Trump promised an ABC News town hall on Tuesday about peace in the Middle East without losing American soldiers in unwinnable wars. https://t.co/EiJIkYaqKw
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) September 16, 2020
“Israel was communicating with Saudi Arabia, a fair amount of business was being done, [Riyadh had] allowed Israel to use its airspace for flights from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi and Dubai,” he said.
“If we had stayed in office now, we would have already had the normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia,” he added.
When Biden took office, he “took steps backwards.” Friedman said, and he was not as “strongly in favor of a new Middle East as we are.”
Pointing to the Abraham Accords, in which the Trump-brokered normalization agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, Morocco, the US proved to be a strong leader under Trump, with the ability to provide nations from the Middle East “the security and encouragement” they sought.
“That’s the piece of the puzzle that’s been missing for the last year and a half,” Friedman said, and now Biden is “trying to make up some of that ground, but not for the right reasons.”
“He’s desperate to get the price of oil down and he’s trying to get gasoline below $4 a gallon before the election,” Friedman added. “That’s the real pressure on the Democrats for the midterms, but it’s not the right thing to focus on.”
“The reason for embracing Saudi Arabia is because that relationship can end the Arab-Israeli conflict and much of the religious extremism in the area. It is something to be adopted for the long term, and not just to increase the supply of oil,” he said.
“If we had remained energy independent, that wouldn’t even be necessary,” Friedman said.
Asked if Friedman thought Biden or Barack Obama were worse American presidents, Friedman said that Biden remains a “public representative of the United States.”
The leaders of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) reportedly refused to take phone calls from President Joe Biden during the Ukraine crisis, after he repeatedly snubbed them during the first year of his administration. https://t.co/rWIOz8qySr
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) March 9, 2022
“While I didn’t agree with Obama’s policies as much as with Biden’s, I think Obama was a much better public representative of the United States and certainly conveyed someone who was smart and eloquent, energetic and capable,” Friedman said.
Obama was “much less in bed with the far left in the United States,” Friedman said, but added that he did not know how the former Democratic president would have dealt with the Squad had it existed.
“Overall, the impression he gave was of a much more competent president in control of high-level government affairs, and I don’t think Biden is capable of communicating that level of competence,” Friedman concluded.