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tv   France 24 AM News  LINKTV  July 15, 2022 5:30am-6:01am PDT

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al jazeera. the remainder of our top stories. the nationwide curfew has an intro anchor, brought on by massive protests -- in sri lanka, brought on by massive protests. thousands gathered outside the residence of the prime minister, demanding his resignation. he had taken over as acting president after former president rajapaksa fled the country. joe biden is on his first trip to the middle east as u.s. president.
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he with palestinian leaders in the occupied west bank. >> their greatest stability, greater connection is critical, it is critical for, i might add, for all the people in the region, which is why we will discuss my continued support, even the final it is not in the near term, a two-state solution that remains in might , be the best way to ensure the future of equal measure of freedom, prosperity, and democracy for israelis and palestinians alike. >> this man says prime minister 's mallard has expired, and he has no authority to dismiss him. witnesses that forces outside the core operational alliance want any prime minister. progress has been made an ideal to secure ukrainian green that
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could go a long way in addressing the food crisis. the agreement was made during talks in istanbul. protesters in haiti have blocked the roads of the capital, angry about if your shortage brought on by a crumbling economy and gang ■violencep two ships carrying imported fuel have been unable to unload because of security vote to determine who l replace boris johnsonp jeremy hand and another person were intimidatedp rishi sunak and penny mordaunt old the early advantage you can. it is updated throughout the day. next, it is "inside story." to stay with us. ♪
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>> embarking on a new relationship. joe biden promises to reset ties with the middle east on his first tour as us president so what can he achieve and will he be held back by political pressures at home? this is "inside story." ♪ hello there and welcome to the program. i'm nastasya tay. now the u.s. is promising a new era of engagement with the middle east. joe biden is making his first trip to the region since becoming president and he'll have many issues to deal with over the next four days. biden's first stop is israel, where he's meeting acting prime minister yair lapid, and former leader benjamin netanyahu.
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he'll then head to the occupied west bank to meet palestinian authority president mahmoud abaas. biden is expected to face questions about the killing of al jazeera correspondent shireen abu akleh, who was a palestinian-american. the u.s. state department found that israeli gunfire likely killed the journalist, but couldn't definitively conclude the bullet's origin. a group of democratic senators has written an open letter saying the investigation doesn't live up to the administration's calls for an independent and credible inquiry. pres. biden: greater peace. greater stability. greater connection. it is critical for all the people of the region, which is why we will discuss my continued support, even though i know it is not in the near term, a two-state solution. that remains, in my view, the best way to ensure a future of equal measure of freedom, prosperity, and democracy for
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israelis and palestinians alike. reporter: stephanie decker has more. reporter: the last time president joe biden was here in the region was in 2010 in his capacity as vice president, trying to revive talks between the israelis and the palestinians. but just hours after landing here, the israeli government announced the construction of 1600 new settler units here in ramat. according to reports, it left joe biden furious, and publicly, he stated this was very much against what was needed to rebuild trust between the two sides. well, now, he returns as president, and ramat shlomo has turned into a massive illegal settlement. now, settlements have continued to expand both here in the occupied west bank and in occupied east jerusalem. it is cited as one of the main obstacles to peace by the palestinians. under the previous trump administration, this was never criticized, but under biden's washington is taking a stronger
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stance. president biden comes here at a time of israeli political turmoil. he will be meeting with the interim prime minister yair lapid, who could no longer be prime minister following november's elections, and he will also be meeting with opposition leader benjamin netanyahu, a man has known for a long time. biden will also be meeting with the palestinian president mahmoud abbas here in bethlehem where it's impossible to miss the war, really the symbol of israel's long-standing occupation and efforts to restrict the freedom of movement of the palestinian people but the administration has made it clear that this trip is more about integrating israel into the region, rather than reviving long-stalled peace talks. anchor: well, afterwards, joe biden will take an unprecedented direct flight from israel to saudi arabia to attend a regional summit there. pres. biden: we were going to if fact, make them pay the price and make them in fact the pariah that they are. anchor: that is what he said about the kingdom during the
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2020 presidential campaign while talking about the murder of saudi journalist jamal khashoggi. that biden is under pressure in the u.s. to deal with high oil -- but biden is under pressure in the u.s. to deal with high oil prices. he and saudi crown prince mohammed bin salman will attend that same summit in jeddah, but the two are not expected to hold a bilateral meeting. other items on the agenda include the iran nuclear deal. biden says he will continue pressuring tehran to return to the 2015 agreement. former president donald trump, you'll recall, withdrew the u.s. from the accord in 2018. in iraq and syria, biden has approved the use of military force to prevent the resurgence of groups such as isil and to respond to rocket attacks on u.s. targets. and washington is also pushing for negotiations to end the war in yemen. ♪ well, let's bring in our guests. in arlington, virginia, we have khaled elgindy. he's the senior fellow at the middle east institute and also the author of "blind spot: america and the palestinians, from balfour to trump." from london, we are joined by andreas krieg, a senior lecturer in defence studies at king's
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college, london. and in birmingham, is scott lucas, professor emeritus at birmingham university and founder of ea worldview, a news analysis website. a very warm welcome to you all. thank you for joining us gentlemen. i want to start with the timing of this. biden's last trip to the region was, over 12 years ago as vice president and he has been president for a year and a half now. it hasn't gone unnoticed that it has taken some time for this trip to take place. the administration says they have plenty of reasons to be there, but given the oil price and the proximity of the u.s. midterms, i would guess that regional allies are not under any illusions about the urgency of this visit. so let me start with you andreas. , what's the u.s. relationship like now with its middle eastern allies -- i know the word "transactional" has been used to describe that relationship of late. guest: well, yes i think the biggest problem that the united
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states has at the moment is that it's too much preoccupied by domestic polarization. it is kind of almost paralyzed by what's going in washington , the january 6 committee. a lot of pressure also on biden to deliver. he hasn't delivered much. america is in an unprecedented crisis domestically. this trip to the middle east is and nowthis trip to the middle east is obviously coming against , this backdrop so he's kind of trying to show that you know he wants to have a foreign policy success. but in terms of energy policy, energy politics as well as supply chain security, he is actually someone who is getting things done. but he has very little to show for what he has actually been promising, and it's also kind of doubtful that he will be able to actually show anything in terms of success on this particular trip. so biden is very much with a , back against the wall. we've got midterm elections, as you were already saying, and so people are looking at him and saying, what does he have to show for himself? and he is entering into a region
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that -- and that is not just a biden problem, for three consecutive presidents, it has actually been left by its own devices, and vacuums have been filled by local players and buy extra-regional players such as russia and china, competitors to the u.s. so the united states is coming as a superpower to the region , but no longer really received underground and perceived on the ground real superpower because it is very impotent now. anchor: a very different middle east from biden's last trip. he started his trip in israel and his last visit obviously wasn't uncontroversial. scott, what do you think tel aviv is hoping to get out of this visit? might the actual visit the presidential visit of someone joe by dana, lift lapid's profile ahead of the november elections there? guest: well, i mean certainly yair lapid and indeed any israeli politician will try to get some type of mileage for domestic reasons ahead of the elections, provided being seen
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with biden is not too toxic. overriding israeli concerns are , let's keep the focus on iran and we need to talk about palestine. i mean of course that there are no serious israeli-palestinian negotiations since 2009, the first year when joe biden was vice president. and israel does not want that to change, israel wants to maintain its autonomy over the occupied territories. they made a token gesture today, saying, all right, we will delay -- not cancel -- but delay the building of some settlements in the west bank. but pretty much, israel has the upper hand. and no arab state, that along the united states is going to challenge that at this point. and what does israel want to talk about? the one to talk about this bloc to contain iran, some would argue, push iran back, which has been really been pushed by the u.s. off to the side, with arab
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states such as saudi arabia and the uae. natasya: i want to get to the regional dynamics in a minute, but i also want to talk about the peace process between israel and palestine, the so-called peace process. the biden administration says it is still working towards that. khalid, i know you yourself have been involved in previous talks between the palestinians and the israelis. given the current situation and the u.s. response to the coming of ours journalist shireen abu akleh, how are the palestinians actually viewing joe biden as the president at the moment? guest: i think there is a deep sense of disappointment in the biden administration, on the part of, certainly the palestinian leadership, but much more so the palestinian people, although expectations were already pretty low on that front. as far as a leadership is concerned, they were hoping for a much more proactive and engaged administration after four years of trump that had really set back
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american-palestinian relations to an unprecedented low. and so far, most of the trump literacy remains intact, with the exception of opening direct ties with the palestinian leadership, restarting some aid to the palestinians, which is something the administration frequently likes to play up. but other than that, the bulk of the trump legacy on jerusalem, on the u.s. consulate in jerusalem, on the closure of the plo mission, and frankly even on settlements, things like the former secretary of state mike pompeo's policies to legitimize settlements, to treat products made in israeli settlements as made in israel, to do away with the term "occupied territories,"
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these are doing away with the legal memo on the legality of the israeli settlements, all these things are still on the books. and i think palestinians are kind of scratching their heads and saying, why haven't these policies been reversed? nenatasya: let me bring in andreas in here. andreas, khalid's been saying it seems that the biden administration has largely embraced a lot of the trump era policies. was that a considered decision on the part of that administration or has biden just been distracted by a whole load of other issues? guest: yes, he has been distracted. but i would say that this administration is very clueless when it comes to foreign security policy more widely but particularly on the middle east , he has not delivered. he wrote in an op-ed in the washington post this week or last week where it becomes clear that there is in the strategy, a vision. there isn't something that america can actually deliver. the problem is there is a growing gap and what i mean by that is, what america preaches and what it actually does is becoming ever more overtly, you
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know, that becomes an ever growing discrepancy between these two things. and i think what we see particularly on the issue of palestine, is that there has not air reversal on any trump policies, it is actually a continuation of a path that has been set for decades, and all we see is president-elect obama, trump or biden might add a different nuance to it, but at least donald trump was, as destructive as he was, you knew what you were getting. with biden, there is a lot of ambiguity. on the one hand saying, we are interested in engaging with iran, but when it comes to actually doing something about it, you know real polity is -- realpolitik is hitting. and that same is true for saudi arabia. a lot of narrative about human rights, conditionalities but , when it comes to actually delivering on it, there is a continuation of the status quo. that is very, very puzzling for for both sides of the divide in the middle east. iran doesn't know what to expect. the saudis don't know what to expect. uae don't know what to expect
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. israel doesn't know what to expect. that sort of creates this ambiguity and a state of leaderless chaos in the region, which other people have been willing to failed, other nations have been willing to fill. iran was able to act on as as they see fit. uae is acting as they see fit. russia and china are moving in where the americans have , withdrawn. the problem is what does america actually want? natasya: well, i am interested in how the u.s. politics actually relates to the region and how regional leaders are viewing the u.s., because i see biden's approval rating at home is just 33%, and a majority of democratic voters are saying that he should not be on the ballot in 2024. so now given the possible change of administration in not too long. scott, how do you think regional leaders are actually viewing
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biden? guest: i've got a lot of contacts in saudi arabia who from day one of the biden administration simply scoffed at biden and his advisers. they had a very bad relationship with biden and the obama administration and they expected this to carry on. the see the biden administration as being too weak on iran, as being too weak in general. and the israelis similarly, although biden talks a lot about the primacy of israel in the relationship, they don't necessarily see biden as a strong leader. especially in the context of where the u.s. is with a divided domestic scene . but i agree with a lot of what andreas says. we have one point for discussion where i do disagree with him a bit, i don't think the biden administration are clueless here . i think they know what is going on in the middle east, but they realize they don't have leverage. by that i mean, a few years ago, after jamal khashoggi was assassinated probably on the orders of mohammed bin salman, there was leverage.
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the turks wanted sometething toe done. other countries were appalled by what was happening, and you could have acted then. of course, donald trump did not move forward. fast-forward to 2022 and the fact is, well three things -- , the u.s. doesn't have leverage . festival it has been outflanked by the maneuvers between israel and the arab states. secondly, it faces as long as it puts its priority on containing iran and doesn't reach a settlement with iran over the nuclear program, then saudi arabia has leverage on that issue. and thirdly is the question of the oil supply in the context of , russia's invasion of ukraine , you know, in conflict which is likely to be protracted. so, if you're interlocutors have leverage like the saudis and the israelis, you don't antagonize them. biden, in other words, is laying on the defensive not because he's clueless, but simply because american power is not exactly very powerful in the current context of regional politics. natasya: one of the things that biden has really come under fire for at home in the u.s.
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is this next stop on his trip, saudi arabia. khalid, you're sitting in the u.s. now at a very tricky time for biden. how are u.s. voters viewing this whole trip? guest: it is interesting, because actually, the polls show even though usually the public opinion is pretty disengaged from foreign policy, but they generally like presidents to sort of lead on foreign policy matters, the polls currently that i have seen are showing a lot of disapproval for this trip. i think the problem is, most americans, like i think many analysts in washington and elsewhere, diplomats and others, don't really understand the purpose of this trip. is it a photo op? is it about oil prices question mark the administration keeps telling us that it is not. is it about domestic politics, sort of posturing with israel ahead of a midterm election, and using israel to market its the
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-- the administration's ties to saudi arabia as a way to maybe blunt criticism. your guess is as good as mine. the american public simply doesn't understand. i mean, first of all, they don't really care about foreign policy, even though foreign policy directly affects their lives. just have a look at oil prices and gas prices. the administer she has not done a good job of explaining the linkage between these foreign crises and the situation back at home. and i think, as a result, most americans just don't understand, and as a result, end up kind of disapproving. natasya: as you say that, the white house has been dismissing criticism of biden's trip to saudi arabia.
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here's what national security adviser jake sullivan had to say about that. reporter: when it comes right down to it, doesn't this trip prove that strategic interests including oil and gas when it comes right down to it are always going to override something that human rights? >> human rights are of strategic interest to the united states, so is energy security, so is stopping terrorism, so is seeking peace in a place like yemen. we are trying to do multiple things all at once an advance along a number of different tracks. one of those tracks is in fact ending the blank check policy. as i said before, the basic thrust and purpose of our policy with respect to saudi arabia has been to recalibrate the relationship, but not rupture it. we have stayed true to that from the beginning of this administration. natasya: andreas, recalibrate , not rupture. is that code for, we need help with the oil price? guest: well, yes this is code . but i agree with what was said previously. there is no evidence whatsoever that this trip is going to make a difference on the oil price on
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inflation. we know that the saudis and the emiratis actually have reached somewhat the end of the line when it comes to their capacity. they will not want to buy into their into their reserve capacity at this point. and even if they did, the millions of barrels that they could bring online per day will not make a huge difference to bring down the oil price at the pump. so, all of that is kind of windowdressing. i understand that obviously supply chains need to be taken care of, yet there is a huge concern that there is this favorite of the uae and saudi arabia towards russia and china, particularly because there are oil and energy intend interdependency is growing, as the oil and energy interdependency with america is going down. at the same time this trip will , not do very much in that respect. i think there will be a rapprochement announced between saudi arabia and israel on strategic matters. that will be the foreign policy win that biden is looking for.
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but as the previous speaker said, the issue here is everyone scratching their head about, why is he doing this? what is there to win for the biden administration? because everyone will look right through it. i mean, recalibrating this relationship -- for what benefit? it benefits the saudis and the israelis, but what does it do for the biden administration? natasya: you talk about building this alliance. i want to take a broader view here, because this is all taken place within the context of a war raging in ukraine. the u.s. has obviously made no secret of trying to create a global coalition to counter russian aggression there. so i was interested looking at , some opinion polls in the middle east, and it seems many more people and many more countries are more anti-american than they are pro-ukraine. scott how much support is biden , actually likely to get for that agenda? guest: i am not sure if biden will get a good show of support from the middle east, but the purpose of this trip is to keep arab countries from going to the
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other side. just as the u.s. did in its approach to india, where it was worried that india would become too supportive of russia, indeed, almost back the invasion, and worked for months to prevent that happening part of this trip here is to try to limit the development of ties , which andreas has written about, between russia and saudi arabia over energy. indeed you had a russian envoy who just recently was in saudi arabia. so i think from the standpoint of realpolitik, and, look, human rights are expendable here, ideals are expendable here the idea here is to make sure not only saudi arabia not only the uae, but indeed the entire gulf area at least stays neutral in this conflict, and indeed, begins, as it were, to sort of support the ongoing international coalition to push back on the russian invasion. so, i suspect in september, because it's being leaked from both sides, the saudi side and
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the u.s. side, the saudis will increase oil production in september. how much of that will buffer the domestic situation in the united states and help fight before november's election? i don't know, but the increase in oil production by the saudis will send a message, which is we're not dependent on russia. we're not being held hostage by russia. and that's a pretty important message at what may be a turning point in the ukraine conflict, with kiev beginning to score some success in the battlefield. natasya: i was interested to see that jake sullivan, biden's national security advisor very , recently revealed that intelligence agencies have decided that iran was planning to aid russia in its battle against ukraine. how might that shape conversations in the coming days, especially given the state of the talks around the iran nuclear deal? guest: iran will be a big focus of this trip, in israel and in saudi arabia. so there is no question about that. whether that means there's going to be some progress at some point on the iran nuclear deal , that remains to be seen. so far, we haven't seen that.
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again, i think this sort of plays into this question most people have, about what is this trip really about? if i could just sort of go back to the point that was raised earlier about human rights, i agree with andres, who said there is a huge gap between what the administration says and does. i think that is nowhere more evident than in this rhetoric about human rights. and frankly, whether we are talking about israel or saudi arabia, both of their records on human rights are quite abysmal, and we are seeing the administration really gave a pass not just to those two regimes, but also others that will be attending the summit in saudi arabia, for example, like egypt or jordan. egypt has an especially
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egregious record on human rights. there is a growing sense that this administration is really prepared to, i think, trade away human rights and democracy in a way that even the biden administration didn't go as far -- sorry, the trump administration. natasya: i want to give andreas a very quick last word, because i am curious. in one sentence, what would you say a successful trip would look like. guest: there is no successful trip. i agree with everything said at this point, this trip will be defined by a weak president in the week united states that is unable to leverage whatever leverage they have left. and the seiju gap is just widening and it leaves a credibility gap as well, that can very easily be defined and filled by the russians and the chinese, who do
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authoritarian stability much better than the americans. at least they are very upfront and very direct about what they are doing. natasya: we will see how it all plays out in the coming days. in the meantime, though,h thank you to all of our guests khaled elgindy, andreas krieg, and scott lucas. and thank you too for watching. remember, you can see this program again anytime by visiting our website that's al for further discussion, do go to our facebook page. that's and you can also always join the conversation on twitter, our handle is @ajinsidestory. for me, nastasya, and the whole team here in doha, bye for now. ♪
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