Ukraine War, March 18, 2022: Biden has video call with Xi Jinping; Bashar al-Assad travels to UAE, in test to see if war criminal who committed monstrous crimes against humanity can be rehabilitated; U.S. should send clear signal to UAE, cut back on arms sales and defense cooperation with Emirates

Developing

Dispatches

1) “Xi stresses joint China-U.S. efforts for world peace, tranquility,” Xinhua March 18, 2022 (22:45);

2) Le Monde avec AFP, “Bachar Al-Assad aux Emirats arabes unis pour rompre son isolement diplomatique; Le président syrien s’est rendu à Abou Dhabi pour sa première visite dans un pays arabe depuis le début en 2011 du conflit qui a ravagé son pays. Il a rencontré plus tôt le dirigeant de Dubaï, dans un effort pour revenir sur la scène internationale,” Le Monde, le 18 mars 2022 (04h04, mis à jour à 05h45).

Commentary

Biden call with Xi Jinping

One positive thing about President Joe Biden’s video call today with China’s Xi Jinping was that the call lasted two hours, suggesting the leaders actually had a conversation that went beyond talking points.

Another was that the initial Chinese press reports struck a positive note, stressing the responsibilities of both nations to work for international peace and security.

The Chineese news agency Xinhua reported the following:

BEIJING, March 18 (Xinhua) — China and the United States must not only guide their relations forward along the right track, but also shoulder their share of international responsibilities and work for world peace and tranquility, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Friday.

Xi made the remarks in a video call with U.S. President Joe Biden at the latter’s request.

Noting the international landscape has experienced new major developments since their first virtual meeting last November, Xi said the prevailing trend of peace and development is facing serious challenges, and the world is neither tranquil nor stable.

“The Ukraine crisis is not something we want to see,” Xi said.
The events again show that countries should not come to the point of meeting on the battlefield. Conflict and confrontation are not in anyone’s interest, and peace and security are what the international community should treasure the most, he added.

“As permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and the world’s two leading economies, we must not only guide the China-U.S. relations forward along the right track, but also shoulder our share of international responsibilities and work for world peace and tranquility,” Xi said.

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad travels to UAE, meets with Dubai ruler

In what can only be seen as Vladimir Putin pulling the strings behind the curtains arch war criminal Bashar al-Assad of Syria traveled to the UAE where he met with the crown prince of the Emirate of Dubai.

This is an obvious test by Putin of the possibility of the international rehabilitation of a war criminal like al-Assad, or himself.

Russian inroads with the UAE were already manifested when the UAE abstained recently on several U.N. Security Council resolutions condemning Russia for its invasion of Ukraine,

With the price of oil soaring, Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman (MBS), the de facto ruler in Saudi Arabia, and his close friend and ally, Crown Prince Mohammed Ben Zayed, the de facto ruler in the UAE, have been seeking to play the Russians off against the Americans.

Biden needs to have his foreign policy team focus on the alliance diasarray with some members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and remind them who their real friends have been for the last 60 years.

The U.S. should send a strong signal to Saudi Arabia and the UAE that flirting with Putin and Bashar al-Assad are hostile acts which will not be tolerated by the U.S. within a framework of continued friendly relations and defense cooperation.

The defense of both Saudi and UAE oil facilities against attacks by the Houthis in Yemen, and by Iran, their sponsors, are highly dependent on U.S. military technology and weapons.

The U.S. should remind them both of this fact by cutting back on some weapons sales and some military cooperation.

There is still time for conservative Saudi elites to prevent MBS from becoming king, and a Saudi switch from being an ally of America to being an ally of Putin and Russia might just provoke these elites to act.

The Trenchant Observer

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