With this aid package, Washington aims to help countries in the region cope with the various social and economic crises they are facing as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Biden announces $1 billion aid plan for MENA region

photo_camera PHOTO/FILE - The presidente of the USA, Joe Biden

US President Joe Biden is already in Saudi Arabia as part of his Middle East tour to further strengthen diplomatic relations and cooperation with countries in the region.

Saudi Arabia is the finishing touch to his diplomatic tour of the Middle East and it is there that the Democrat is expected to meet with leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council in the Saudi city of Jeddah, where Biden will announce $1 billion in aid to help improve food security in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa, according to a senior US official. 

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The region is currently experiencing a serious food crisis caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. This crisis, rather than abating, looks set to worsen and its consequences will be latent for the region's citizens, in addition to the current drought and the internal political, social and economic crises in countries such as Libya, Yemen and Syria.

The energy issue is another major concern for the US. Like food shortages, oil and gas shortages also stem from the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Both Europe and the US are trying to isolate Russia in all areas, but their high dependence on Moscow as one of the main suppliers of gas to European countries, especially in Eastern Europe, makes isolation difficult. 

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Moreover, in the oil sector, Russia belongs to OPEC, an organisation led by Saudi Arabia. The US has tried to engage Riyadh in isolating Russia on energy issues, even going so far as to ask it to increase oil production due to growing shortages.

However, Riyadh responded with a refusal and accused the US of systematically interfering in the region's affairs. Despite this situation, the reality is now different and it seems that at the next meeting Biden will again call on the Gulf states to increase their production. They are also expected to reach some common ground on an air defence system to deal with Iran and its growing nuclear threat. The US official reiterated this after telling reporters that "the idea of coordinating anti-missile systems is something that will come out of today's meetings"

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In this regard, Biden plans to meet with several leaders in different bilateral meetings to discuss the possibility of coordinating a regional defence against both Iranian missiles and rockets and groups that support Tehran, which would include Yemen's Houthi rebels.

These talks will focus on coordinating air defence systems designed to destroy missiles, such as the US's THAAD system, which is already being used by the United Arab Emirates. In this sense, Washington would also be behind Israel to be part of this alliance, as the Israeli country has state-of-the-art technology to deal with this threat. 

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Both Iron Dome and the new Iron Thunderbolt system, which is still under development, are two anti-missile systems that maintain a high capability to shoot down both missiles and rockets. This was demonstrated by Israel last year, when Hamas launched a series of offensives from Gaza aimed at hitting several Israeli cities.

However, whether Israel can be part of this defence cooperation is a thorny issue, as countries such as Saudi Arabia continue to have no relationship with Israel, despite the fact that the region has undergone significant changes in this area as a result of the Abraham Accords. What is clear is that the region has undergone abysmal changes in a very short period of time, especially in diplomatic terms, where the United States has played - and continues to play - a fundamental role.

Americas Coordinator: Jos茅 Antonio Sierra. 

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