Biden singles out Middle East allies for democracy summit

US president invites only one Arab state to December democracy summit
2 min read
24 November, 2021
A summit next month will bring together over 100 nations for a virtual meeting to discuss democracy and the challenges it faces around the world, however most Arab nations have been left in the cold.
The summit is set to discuss the situation of democracies and autocracies around the world [Getty]

US President Joe Biden has invited over 100 countries to a virtual summit on democracy next month, leaving out most of Washington's key allies in the Middle East.

"Summit for Democracy" is scheduled to take place online between 9 and 10 December ahead of an in-person meeting at its second edition next year. The State Department published the guest list on its website on Tuesday.

The only Middle East countries invited were Iraq and the US' strongest ally, Israel.

Last month's parliamentary elections in Iraq dealt a heavy blow to pro-Iran factions in the country, as Baghdad - backed by the US and some Gulf states - tries to crack down on militias and minimise Tehran’s influence.

US allies Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, the UAE, as well as Turkey, are all absent from Biden's list.

Biden last year called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan an "autocrat" and relations between the two have been tense since he entered the White House.

The summit comes as several countries around the world witness ongoing wars and coups.

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This year alone in the Arab world, two countries have seen power grabs ending a short-lived period of democratic rule or transition.

On July 25, Tunisian President Kais Saied sacked the government, suspended parliament, and seized an array of powers, citing an "imminent threat" to the country - widely viewed as the only success story of the Arab Spring.

Exactly three months later, Sudan's top military general and de-facto leader, General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan dissolved the government, detained the civilian leadership, and declared a state of emergency.

The East African country had been ruled by a joint civilian-military council since August 2019 after the ousting of former president Omar Al-Bashir, and was supposed to carry out a democratic transition of power until elections next year.

Other nations which will attend the summit include India, Pakistan, Brazil, as well as Taiwan, despite not being recognised as an independent state by Washington.

Taiwan's invite will most likely anger Beijing and further harm US-China relations.

Although self-governed, Beijing considers Taiwan to be part of its own territory and has threatened to take over the tiny island democracy one day.

Biden has previously vowed to protect Taiwan against any Chinese aggression.

China was not invited, and nor was the US' other superpower rival Russia.