U.S. President Joe Biden’s “summer of diplomacy” continued last week, this time with stops in the Middle East, where he visited two long-term U.S. regional partners, Israel and Saudi Arabia. But unlike recent stops in the German Alps for the annual G-7 meeting or in Madrid for the NATO leaders’ summit, Biden’s meetings in Riyadh, in particular, generated a great deal of criticism and even opprobrium. Ahead of the trip, critics had warned that visiting Saudi Arabia went directly against Biden’s campaign promise to no longer give the kingdom a “blank check” when it comes to its human rights record. […]
Three days after U.S. President Joe Biden returned to Washington from a controversial visit to Saudi Arabia, Russian President Vladimir Putin landed in Tehran with a complex set of goals of his own. Much like Biden, who aimed to strengthen Washington’s ties in the region, Putin sought to bolster Russia’s relations in the Middle East. The meeting in Iran showcased the awkward relationship between these two dictatorial regimes and their oil-rich nations, both of which have been subjected to Western economic sanctions. By embracing one another, Putin and Iran’s supreme leader aimed to show that they are not pariahs.