Skip to main content

Iran, Ukraine top agenda as Blinken tours Middle East

Blinken's trip will include extensive discussions with Abu Dhabi's crown prince and stops in North Africa.

US top diplomat Antony Blinken will meet with the leaders of the UAE, Israel, Algeria and the Palestinian Authority during a broad tour of the Middle East next week as Washington seeks to coordinate with allies over a potential nuclear deal with Iran and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Blinken will also meet with the foreign ministers of Bahrain, the UAE and Morocco at a first-of-its-kind summit hosted by Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid starting on Sunday, the Foreign Ministry announced today.

Following that event, the US secretary of state plans to meet Emirati leader Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan during a stop in Morocco. The two are set to discuss a range of issues including global energy markets, Iran and the conflicts in Yemen and Ethiopia as well as furthering the Abraham Accords, the State Department’s top official for Middle East policy said.

The meeting in Rabat comes after a state visit to Abu Dhabi by Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad — an international pariah due to his government’s conduct in the country's civil war — drew concern in Washington.

“We’re taking advantage of the opportunity,” Acting Assistant Secretary for Near East Affairs Yael Lempert said Thursday in reference to Blinken’s planned meeting with bin Zayed.

“This is a valued — a really important strategic relationship for us. And it’s an opportune moment for this meeting. There’s a lot to discuss,” Lempert said. The top diplomat’s trip will conclude the trip with a stop in Algeria next week.

What to watch for: Blinken’s planned consultations in the region come amid what could be the final days of negotiations in Vienna over limiting Tehran’s nuclear program.

  • Israeli and Emirati officials have reportedly been pressing the Biden administration for reassurances amid fears that sanctions relief on Tehran could leave Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps flush with cash.
  • American officials are seeking to reassure Arab allies and Israel as well as members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. “We are working as hard as we can in the crafting of this deal to ensure that the money is used for the benefit of the Iranian people and not for external aggression,” the State Department’s political affairs chief, Victoria Nuland, told Senate lawmakers earlier this month.
  • Blinken is also set to meet with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz during the visit, but Lempert offered no preview of any concrete assurances Washington’s envoy may bring.
  • Meanwhile, resentment over perceived inadequate US responses to a spike in drone attacks on the UAE and Saudi Arabia by Iran-backed Yemeni rebels has opened a rift between Gulf leaders and the West over regulating global oil prices amid the war in Ukraine.
  • The United States condemned a new barrage of Houthi drones that targeted an Aramco facility in the Saudi city of Jeddah today.

The visit also comes as Washington seeks to address economic and security concerns across North Africa as food prices rise amid Russia’s war against Ukraine, a factor that could contribute to renewed instability a decade after the failure of the Arab Spring.

  • “Putin’s invasion is already causing food prices, especially wheat, to rise,” Lempert told reporters. “We know this pain is keenly felt in the Middle East and North Africa, where most countries import at least half of their wheat.”
  • Blinken’s visit to Algeria — the first by a sitting US secretary of state since 2012 — may also be aimed to capitalize on Russia’s weakened position globally amid the Ukraine war.
  • Algiers is one of the world’s top importer of Russian arms, with an outstanding $7 billion deal for Sukhoi fighter jets and other hardware in the works. US and European sanctions and Russia’s removal from the SWIFT system could jeopardize that deal.
  • State Department Press Secretary Ned Price said yesterday that Blinken would emphasize the role that North African states can play in supporting Ukraine and urge all leaders he meets during the trip to join sanctions on Russia if the war is not stopped.

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

Text Alerts - Be the first to get breaking news, exclusives, and PRO content.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial