In last week’s Action Update we promised to elaborate a bit more on what we’re hoping to see from President Biden during his mid-July trip to the Middle East. The trip is important, and a lot of work needs to be done in a short period of time, so this week we’ll only be covering two topics: the President’s trip to the Middle East and a new bipartisan bill aimed at creating a regional security infrastructure to confront Iran.

The Trip

President Joe Biden will travel to the Middle East July 13-16th, during which time he will visit Israel, Saudi Arabia and Palestinian Authority (PA) controlled territory in the disputed West Bank. The President’s trip will go on amidst changes in the Israeli government and a new round of elections this fall. During his visit, Biden has a lot to accomplish – including, despite administration denials, getting the Saudis to increase oil production thereby decreasing gas prices.

But there’s a lot more to this trip then dealing with the pain at the pump. Since taking office, President Biden has maintained cordial diplomatic relations with Jerusalem, but he has also restored aid to the Palestinians despite the PA continuing its pay-to-slay program and its wholesale indoctrination of Palestinian children into violence. His message to the Palestinians needs to be unequivocal: the US government will not continue aiding the Palestinians so long as the PA continues to preach, teach and incentivize terrorism.

Such will go a long way towards deepening ties with Israel, but more importantly, it will have a tangible positive impact on the lives of both Palestinians and Israelis. Less violence is good for all sides, but right now one side remains committed to terrorism and yet they are receiving US taxpayer dollars.

When he goes to Riyadh, we have little doubt the House of Saud will exhibit the type of dignified welcome behooving a visit from the occupant of the Oval Office. But behind closed doors, the discussions will likely be more direct. We don’t blame President Biden for being uncomfortable engaging with a monarchy that has a poor human rights record, but sometimes that’s the job. We do blame the President for failing to recognize that there are real enemies in the region and acknowledging the Saudis as well as certain Gulf Arab allies have made incremental but real progress in modernizing their societies.

Whether or not the President likes it, good relations with Saudi Arabia are vital to US national security interests, and, the Saudis are as committed as the Israelis to stopping Iran’s malign behavior and pursuit of nuclear weapons. The President will need to rebuild trust and relations with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, and he will need to make clear to the leaders in Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Jerusalem that the US has ended its failed Iran appeasement policy.

The Bill

A few weeks ago, the Deterring Enemy Forces and Enabling National Defenses (DEFEND) Act was introduced by a bipartisan cadre of lawmakers committed to ensuring the US retakes its seat at the head of the international table in the context of the Middle East.

According to a description of the bill from the press release announcing its introduction, this legislation would, “require the Department of Defense (DOD) to prepare a strategy to work in conjunction with Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and other allies and partners in the Middle East to establish a defense architecture and acquisitions approach that would employ a combination of air and missile defense capabilities to protect the region from attacks by Iran and Iran-backed extremist groups.”

Today, at 11:30am eastern/10:30am central the Action Fund’s Boris Zilberman will join Senator Joni Ernst, the lead sponsor of the legislation, for an Instagram live discussion about this important legislation. We look forward to the discussion between Boris and the Senator and hope you’ll log onto CUFI’s Instagram account to view the discussion.

In addition to Senator Ernst, a number of lawmakers are working to advance this legislation and we are deeply grateful to Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV), James Lankford (R-OK), and Cory Booker (D-NJ), as well as Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA.), Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO), Rep. David Trone (D-MD), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Don Bacon (R-NE) and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) for leading this bipartisan and bicameral legislation. 

From the President’s meetings in the Middle East to the DEFEND Act, many of the roads in the Middle East lead to Tehran. The Islamic Republic of Iran is the preeminent force for evil in the region, rivaling only Russia and North Korea (though not for a lack of trying) to hold that title for the entire world.

We hope the President recognizes and acts on this reality, but hope is not a strategy. Our strategy is to empower a dedicated and educated group of a topflight activists to ensure our children’s future. You are that army, and we are eternally grateful for your commitment to remaining in the fight.

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