U.S. Balances Human Rights and Mideast Security

(Times of Israel) Lazar Berman - The new U.S. approach to Saudi Arabia - human rights sanctions together with security cooperation - is an indicator of how it will handle other key U.S. allies in the Middle East. In Egypt, the administration approved the sale of $200 million worth of missiles and, days later, stressed its commitment to human rights there. "The minute there is outside pressure on authoritarian regimes of this type, it just opens the door for even more authoritarian figures to grab power," argued Dan Schueftan, head of the international graduate program in national security at the University of Haifa. "There is no real option for democratic, liberal - or even much more moderate - regimes. If you pressure Egypt on human rights, you get the Muslim Brotherhood....If you want democracy in Bahrain, you'll get Iran." He added, "the more the Biden administration pushes pro-American regimes in the Middle East into a corner, the more they will connect to Israel, since Israel is the only thing they can count on." Israeli officials said Israel has in recent weeks encouraged Cairo and Riyadh to take constructive steps on human rights to "improve the atmosphere" with the Biden administration. One defense official told Walla, "Our message to the Biden administration will be: Go slowly, there have been dramatic changes, don't come with preconceived stances and don't hurt relations with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates." David Pollock of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy concluded: "I'm pleasantly surprised by the way in which [the Biden administration] seems to have a realistic understanding of where this issue fits into their overall interests and into the world."

2021-03-04 00:00:00

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