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Rep. Jamie Raskin speaks at Trump's second impeachment.

On Banana Republicans: Dems Have No Fecks Left to Give, and We Are Here For It

If you've missed it - lucky you - we've seen the clown show of GOP House "Weaponization" et al subcommittees, a sorry apotheosis of GOP fanaticism, paranoia and bullshit, lumber on as a parade of eloquent Dems do steadfast battle against the "nonsense." Most visible is the indefatigable Jamie Raskin, who's been on fire. Now he's fervidly offered up to the party of lies and alternative facts the hallowed notion of "truth," on which "democratic governance rests." An appreciation thread is due.

Having vowed to uncover the nefarious doings of an imaginary "Deep State" out to "get" conservatives through the shocking testimony of a gazillion whistleblowers, Jordan's subcommittee, along with others, has instead flopped, bombed, landed as dead on arrival as the famous Monty Pythonparrot: "It's passed on...It has ceased to be, it's expired and gone to see its maker. This is a late parrot." The reviews, to date: The brand-new Republican majority is off to an awful, abysmal, amateurish and appalling start, and those are just the applicable adjectives that begin with the letter A." "The party has turned into a conspiracy-mongering extremist caucus," "We were promised whistleblowers, but we got hot air, which they then got high on." The GOP is "one flaming hot mess of ego, resentment and paranoia." And, the hearings "have accomplished nothing." The lesson from their risible probes on multiple alleged misdeeds - besides weaponization, COVID, jobs, Ukraine, Jan. 6, Hunter Biden - through which inept "Banana Republicans" perpetually tripped over pesky facts: "Never bring a Boebert/Greene/Jordan/Comer to a Raskin fight." At this point, Democrats weary of sitting through and calling out farces that merely "spin the wheels of House (committees) in political theater circles" understandably have - to borrow from Martin McDonagh's mournful, lovely Banshees of Inisherin - no fecks left to give.

GOP cluelessness was everywhere. There was sanctimonious Kevin McCarthy claiming the right to overturn a long-in-the-works rewrite of D.C.'s criminal code by a supposedly soft-on-crime Democratic City Council, only to have Dems point out that McCarthy's hometown of Bakersfield CA., has one of the highest crime rates in America - higher than (Dem-controlled) D.C. and almost double (ditto) New York City: "No wonder he never goes there." Also Marjorie Taylor Greene blasted tyrannical COVID school closures for causing kids' reading levels to drop while stumbling over numbers too high for her to read and blamed Biden's "open border" for the deaths of two young men from fentanyl during Trump's reign, after which her spokesperson responded to a fact-checker's questions with "Fuck off." And hapless comic-book villain James Comer, who with his BS in agriculture from Western Kentucky University somehow made it to the chairmanship of the House Oversight Committee, was lamenting US attorneys didn't get around to investigating grifting by Beau Biden - can we go any lower? - before he died of brain cancer from serving in Iraq, also of course Hunter: "I think the evidence is overwhelming that this family's been involved in some very shady business dealings that could compromise national security," he intoned, cleverly ignoring the $2 billion dollars Jared got from the Saudis for being married to Ivanka. Comer also lit into Dr. Fauci and the Dems who supported him for lying about COVID; delightfully, Florida Rep. Jared Moskowitz took the ball and ran with it.

Smirking groomer Matt Gaetz offered more idiocy in the face of people smarter then he is. Having earlier made a Big Deal out of insisting the Pledge of Allegiance be read before the opening of Congressional sessions, he brought in as his first "honored guest" to read it a guy he met at a gun club who, as it turned out, was convicted of murdering one family member and attempting to murder another in a 2019 stand-off with Michigan police, so go U.S.A. and all its empty jingoistic rituals. Then he tried to bully Colin Kahl, an undersecretary of Defense, to admit the U.S. was sending money and weapons to the Azov Battalion, a right-wing nationalist group in Ukraine reportedly fighting with the resistance. When Kahl said he didn't think Azov had access to US weapons, Gaetz then sententiously read his "evidence" to the contrary, quoting from a report in the Global Times, which turns out to be a major Chinese Communist propaganda outlet. "Is this the Global Times from China?" Kahl asked innocently. Gaetz: "No, this is..." leans over to peer at paper. "Oh. Well. It might be...Yeah, I guess it is." Kahl, coolly calling him out, "As a general matter, I don't take Beijing's propaganda at face value." Ouch. From one observer, "Gaetz should be a lot more cut-up from walking into propellers like that." After which an exasperated Dem Rep. Eric Swalwell made it clear he'd had enough of Gaetz' and his colleagues'"stunts and games," adding, like the grown-up in the room, "We're here to get shit done."

JUST IN: Eric Swalwell Tells Matt Gaetz 'We're Going To Get S--- Done'www.youtube.com

Just to keep the malarkey evenly spread, the Senate also offered up "a true murderers' row" - Cruz, Lee, Hawley, Cotton - sounding like "the world's largest wingnut xylophone" as they interrogated Merrick Garland on his alleged crimes, thus proving, over and over, "These are not serious people worthy of governing." Tom Cotton wanted Garland to imprison protesters outside Brett Kavanaugh's house, aka "threatening the life of a Supreme Court Justice"; asked if the soft-on-crime Garland thought "citizens of dangerous cities in America should seek asylum in Honduras, where the murder rate is lower than New Orleans"; and yelled Garland had "directed the FBI to investigate parents for being white." Garland, who'd issued a memo specifically naming "violent extremists": "I did not." Cotton: "So after you directed the FBI to investigate parents for being white..." Josh Hawley blasted the arrest of a pro-life terrorist - “You used an unbelievable show of force, with guns that, I just note, liberals usually decry, but you're happy to deploy them against Catholics and innocent children," and shrieked, "How many informants do you have in Catholic churches?! How many?!" Ted Cruz, having just been seen fist-bumping in triumph after blocking a bill to help meet veterans' medical needs after exposure to toxic burn pits, harangued Garland with a belligerent speech about Hunter Biden; when Garland said, "Can I answer the question?", Cruz screamed, "No, you cannot!" Ah, reasonable governance in action.

Still, the House saw most of the stupid, with the fiery Jamie Raskin tirelessly battling against it. For the occasion, Raskin, who's undergoing chemotherapy, donned a newly fashionable velour bandanna gifted to him from musician Steve Van Zandt, a synchronicity people loved: "A rock star embracing another rock star!" "Total mensches, both of you," "Are you the Raskin Twins or the Van Zandt Brothers? Either way, I’m either going to benefit from genius teaching or extraordinary entertainment." Thus did Raskin set out to elegantly eviscerate "the very distinguished gentlelady from Colorado" Lauren Boebert. First up, COVID. When Boebert screeched about China and Wuhan, Raskin coolly noted all the times Trump praised them, suggesting that if she had a problem with the Chinese government, "You would have to pin that on your favorite President Donald Trump." He also cited a book by Trump COVID special adviser Dr. Deborah Birx in which she charged "the lethal recklessness of Trump's policies on COVID cost Americans hundreds of thousands of lives." His dry punchline: "I'm sure you read her book." Gleeful observers: "Dark Raskin is throwing more shade than an umbrella store" and, "It's like Michael Jordan dunking on grade-school children." He did the same with jobs: "I heard the very distinguished gentlelady from Colorado mention job creators. I assume she was responding to President Biden, since 12 million new jobs have been created under Biden, whereas millions of jobs were lost under the prior president." Etc.

In one of his finest moments, Raskin also sought to "educate our very distinguished colleague" for a longstanding “grammatical error” - the habit of using “Democrat” as an adjective, as in the "far-left Democrat plan" - which "grates on our ears" because it's a noun. "I am beginning to suspect that this word usage is intended to be an act of incivility,"' he politely noted, before turning the tables. "It's as if every time we mentioned the other party, it just came out...‘Oh, the Banana Republican Party,’ like we'd mention, ‘the Banana Republican member.’ But of course we wouldn't do that." Saving the best for last, in response to the GOP Big Lie - "They say, 'Who knows, maybe he won, maybe he didn't'" - Raskin's soaring oratory this week on the difference between truth and lies, and why it matters: "America must reject the GOP’s dangerous nihilism about the impossibility of separating truth from lies, a derangement brought on by Donald Trump but now infecting their whole party...Our whole judicial system is based on the difference between truth and lies. Our system of democratic governance rests on truth and facts - not lies and conspiracy theories...That's what democratic government is." Later, he tweeted, "We cannot let (the lies of McCarthy, Carlson et al) become the Orwellian editors of our past, or the authoritarian authors of our future." Damn. May we one day have a governing body of Raskins. For now, in these fraught and scary times, we salute you and we thank you, sir.

‘Banana Republican’: Jamie Raskin Goes On Tirade Against Lauren Boebertwww.youtube.com

Rep. Jamie Raskin gives amazing speech about Republicans' cowardice over "Truth and Lies"youtu.be

Protesters hold a "Stop Failing Us'' banner during the demonstration outside the Bank of England in London as world leaders meet in Glasgow for the COP26 climate summit on November 6, 2021. ​

'Promise Breakers': Report Exposes Rich Nations Failing to End Fossil Fuel Financing

A report released Wednesday by Oil Change International reveals that while the Glasgow Statement is already shifting billions of dollars from fossil fuels to clean energy around the world, some rich nations are still failing to live up to promises made under the 2021 agreement.

During COP26—the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland—34 countries and five public finance institutions vowed to cut off financing for new international fossil fuel projects by the end of 2022 and instead invest that money in clean power.

"Our research shows that while the Glasgow Statement is a success story that's having a real-world impact in shifting finance away from fossil fuels, some countries like the U.S., Germany, and Italy have broken their promise," said Oil Change International (OCI) public finance strategist Adam McGibbon, a lead author of the report.

The report—entitled Promise Breakers: Assessing the impact of compliance with the Glasgow Statement commitment to end international public finance for fossil fuels—states that "out of 16 signatories that provide significant international public finance for energy, eight have new or existing policies that broadly meet the promise they made in Glasgow (Canada, the European Investment Bank, the United Kingdom, France, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and New Zealand)."

"True leaders do not blink when faced with a global climate crisis."

While those actions are expected to shift $5.7 billion from fossil fuels to clean energy annually, the report suggests that another $13.7 billion could be added if the countries who have failed to enact such policies and those "with below-Glasgow policies" did more to cut fossil fuel funding.

The nations with policies that are updated but still not in line with the Glasgow statement are Belgium, Spain, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. Those identified by OCI as in breach of the 2021 deal are Germany, Italy, Portugal, and the United States.

"During the 2020 presidential election, Joe Biden promised to end U.S. support for dirty energy projects abroad," the report highlights. "The Biden administration has taken the unusual step of developing a policy in response to the Glasgow Statement for its bilateral financing agencies but not making it public, even at the request of members of Congress."

After noting a diplomatic cable revealed in December 2021, the report calls on the administration to "release a public interagency guidelines that (a) bars new public fossil fuel support with no exemptions for gas projects and (b) closes the potential widely defined loophole for projects with 'national security' implications that appeared in the leaked memo."

Kate DeAngelis, international finance program manager at Friends of the Earth U.S., echoed that demand for transparency.

"The United States has long claimed to be a world leader in climate action, yet fails to back this up with meaningful action or policy," she said. "U.S. agencies like the U.S. Export-Import Bank and U.S. International Development Finance Corporation continue to be piggy banks for fossil fuel projects from Mexico to South Africa to Indonesia, as these nations suffer from climate change."

"President Biden must make his administration's policy public, which would catalyze other countries to stop providing billions of dollars to polluting projects all over the world," DeAngelis added. "True leaders do not blink when faced with a global climate crisis."

Meanwhile, the report details that not only has Italy declined to publish any Glasgow Statement policies but also the government recently "attempted to weaken a ministerial statement by 10 European governments to stop export credit support for fossil fuel projects" and its export credit agency SACE—which financed €13.7 billion ($14.45 billion) in fossil fuels from 2016-21—is continuing to consider major international projects.

Simone Ogno, climate and finance campaigner at ReCommon, pointed to some specific projects, saying Wednesday that "through its export credit agency SACE, Italy has become the first European fossil fuel financier, enabling the development of strategic oil and gas projects for the Russian Federation, not to mention LNG projects in Mozambique and oil refineries in Egypt."

Germany also has not only failed to put out a policy, but also "is engaged in a 'dash for gas,' including pursuing controversial gas development in Senegal and exploring gas deals with Qatar, the United States, and Iraq," the report says.

"Instead of providing gigantic sums of public funds for fossil fuel projects that are incompatible with the Paris agreement, we urge German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to ensure that the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau adheres to the Glasgow Statement," declared Constantin Zerger, head of energy and climate protection at the Deutsche Umwelthilfe, referring to the nation's public bank.

"The government-owned development bank needs to officially commit that it will end its support for financial fossil fuel projects abroad and in Germany," Zerger charged. "Chancellor Scholz, it is time to become a real climate leader!"

Rather than featuring a section on Portugal like the other "promise breakers," the report calls out the country for "particularly low data transparency" and says its process for developing a policy related to the Glasgow Statement is "unclear."

While the new report takes aim at the "promise breakers," it also stresses that "all signatories must still do more to meet the parallel commitment to 'prioritize support fully towards the clean energy transition' whilst 'do[ing] no significant harm' to the goals of the Paris agreement, local communities, and local environments."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren takes her seat during a hearing

Warren and Porter Lead SVB Act to Repeal Trump-Era Bank Deregulation Law

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Katie Porter unveiled legislation Tuesday to repeal the section of a Trump-era law that weakened regulations for banks with between $50 billion to $250 billion in assets, a move that experts and lawmakers have blamed for the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and the resulting turmoil.

"In 2018, I rang the alarm bell about what would happen if Congress rolled back critical Dodd-Frank protections: banks would load up on risk to boost their profits and collapse, threatening our entire economy—and that is precisely what happened," Warren (D-Mass.) said in a statement. "President Biden called on Congress to strengthen the rules for banks, and I'm proposing legislation to do just that by repealing the core of Trump's bank law."

That law, authored by Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and backed by dozens of Democrats, raised the asset threshold for more stringent regulations to $250 billion or higher, exempting firms such as Silicon Valley Bank (SVB)—a major venture capital lender that controlled around $212 billion—from enhanced liquidity requirements and more frequent federal stress tests imposed on banks considered "systemically important."

SVB's leadership specifically lobbied for the higher threshold, insisting the tougher regulations were unnecessary even as experts and lawmakers raised concerns that gutting them would increase the risk of bank failures and cascading effects on the financial system.

"Americans deserve to know their money is safe when they deposit it in the bank," Porter (D-Calif.) said Tuesday. "In 2018, politicians rolled back critical regulations protecting Americans' deposits—ignoring warnings from financial experts in favor of Wall Street special interests. I'm calling on Congress to restore commonsense guardrails that keep corporate greed in check and restore confidence in our financial system."

Titled the Secure Viable Banking (SVB) Act, Warren and Porter's legislation would place more stringent regulations on institutions like Silicon Valley Bank by reviving safeguards for firms with between $50 billion and $250 billion in assets.

Facing backlash from Warren and others for glaring oversight failures, the Federal Reserve is considering stronger regulations for banks with between $100 billion and $250 billion in assets, Reutersreported late Tuesday.

Warren and Porter introduced their bill with the support of 31 Democrats in the House and 17 members of the Senate Democratic caucus, including Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.).

"Taxpayers should not have to pay for the mistakes and mismanagement of big bank executives," Markey said in a statement. "The American people should have confidence in their financial institutions, and that starts with undoing Trump-era deregulation so that we can ensure a collapse like we saw last week never happens again."

Notably absent from the list of co-sponsors were the Democrats who helped Republicans usher the bill through Congress in 2018, often misleadingly arguing that the measure was chiefly about providing relief for "community banks."

In the Senate, 16 Democrats and Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) supported the bill, giving Republicans the votes they needed to overcome the chamber's legislative filibuster.

One of the Democratic supporters, Mark Warner of Virginia, defended the 2018 law over the weekend, tellingABC News that he believes it "put in place an appropriate level of regulation on mid-sized banks" and that "these mid-sized banks needed some regulatory relief."

The Leverreported last week that SVB chief Greg Becker held a fundraiser for Warner in 2016.

"The bank’s political action committee also donated a total of $10,000 to Warner’s campaigns in the 2016 and 2018 election cycles," the outlet noted.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), another major backer of the 2018 law, held a fundraiser in Silicon Valley earlier this week, just days after SVB collapsed.

Thousands of teachers protest low pay

Tens of Thousands of New Zealand Teachers Strike to Protest Shortages, Low Pay

An estimated 50,000 New Zealand educators walked off the job Thursday to demand better pay, improved working conditions, and more government support amid a worsening cost-of-living crisis and a teacher shortage that has left many questioning their future in the profession.

The one-day nationwide strike, spearheaded by the Post Primary Teachers' Association (PPTA) and New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI), kicked off after the trade unions rejected the Labour government's offers on pay, benefits, and other issues as inadequate to meet the needs of educators who have been under massive strain since the coronavirus pandemic began three years ago.

"I'm striking because the early years are the most important for our children," said kindergarten teacher Virginia Oakly, who joined tens of thousands of her fellow educators at Thursday's demonstrations.

"I'm striking because our kindergarten teachers currently don't have enough sick leave," Oakly added. "We know that it's one of the highest sectors in the country to suffer from illness and that has been made worse with Covid-19. We also can't get enough relievers to cover those absences because of the pay cap that doesn't recognize their experience and knowledge."

The New Zealand strike is part of a growing global wave of labor actions as teachers, nurses, transit workers, and others revolt against government austerity and pay that has lagged behind inflation, which remains elevated around the world.

The Guardianreported Thursday that New Zealand teachers "have so far turned down three pay rise offers from the government of 3%, and say they want 15% or more to continue their work."

In a report released late last year, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) found that "six out of 10 countries pay primary school teachers less than other professionals with similar qualifications."

"This criterion is particularly evident in high-income countries," UNESCO noted. "In five out of six countries in this group, primary school teachers earn less than other comparable professionals."

As part of their push for higher pay and better conditions, teachers in the U.K. are currently on the second day of a two-day strike, and tens of thousands of Los Angeles teachers are planning a three-day walkout beginning next week.

Last month, around 100,000 teachers took to the streets of Lisbon, Portugal to demand "respect for our profession."

New Zealand teachers, who have been engaged in contract negotiations with the government for nearly a year, echoed that call on Thursday.

"Teachers are crying out for a better work-life balance and to be recognized as the professionals that we are," said Maiana McCurdy, an Auckland primary school teacher. "As a mother, I'm striking because I want to know that my child's teacher is going to have the support they need to manage the increasingly difficult challenges that our tamariki are coming into the classroom with."

In an op-ed for The New Zealand Herald ahead of Thursday's walkouts, science and math teacher Peter Wills wrote that "we're striking so your kids can have teachers with the time to create great lessons for your children."

"Investing in teachers is investing in our kids," Wills added. "Investing in our kids is investing in New Zealand's future."

A migrant and her daughter

Nearly 400 Rights Groups Demand Biden Permanently End Family Detention

Nearly 400 immigration justice and other advocacy groups on Wednesday added their voices to the call for President Joe Biden to reject family detention, amid reports that the White House is considering a revival of the practice that was used by the Trump and Obama administrations—despite the fact that it subjected thousands of families to numerous abuses and trauma.

The ACLU, Bend the Arc, and the National Immigration Law Center were among 383 groups that sent a letter to Biden Wednesday morning, calling on the president to keep the pledge he made when he took office in 2021 "to end family detention and to pursue just, compassionate, and humane immigration policies."

Despite that promise, as Common Dreamsreported last week, multiple media outlets have reported that the administration is considering once against detaining families in facilities that have been used under the Biden administration to detain single adults.

The groups warned that even short-term detention for families with children is "unacceptable."

"Reinstating a policy of detaining families in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody, even for short periods of time, would be a horrifying reversal of your past policies and commitments," reads the letter. "No version of family detention, whether referred to as a detention facility, short-term processing center, emergency family staging center, or by any other name, is acceptable."

"Due process and access to counsel concerns will be magnified if the administration's recently promulgated asylum ban rule goes into effect, heightening the evidentiary standard for families to access the ability to seek protection."

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Department of Homeland Security's own medical experts have found that detention for any length of time, with or without parents or guardians, is harmful to children. The latter group, who served as whistleblowers when the Trump administration detained thousands of families and children, released a report in 2019 that detailed medical neglect which resulted in four deaths.

A 2017 report by AAP found that family detention centers provided "delayed medical care, inadequate education services, and limited mental health services," and that children who have been detained, even for short periods of time, "may experience developmental delay and poor psychological adjustment, potentially affecting functioning in school."

In 2016, the United Nations human rights office warned that the detention of children "can be devastating for a child and is not a legitimate response under international human rights law."

The letter sent Wednesday also noted that family detention robs families of due process, with "limited access to counsel at these facilities, making it nearly impossible to pursue protection claims under U.S. immigration law."

"These due process and access to counsel concerns will be magnified if the administration's recently promulgated asylum ban rule goes into effect, heightening the evidentiary standard for families to access the ability to seek protection," said the groups, referring to a proposed rule that would render certain undocumented immigrants ineligible for asylum.

"We urge you to reverse course on the proposed asylum ban rule, and are horrified that the punitive policy could be coupled with family detention," they continued. "This will essentially mean that these facilities will become deportation factories as families scramble to defend their asylum eligibility while trying to protect their children from the agony of detention."

The letter was sent as officials within the Biden administration are reportedly expressing concerns about the return of family detention. According to Greg Sargent at The Washington Post, ICE officials have "consistently" told the White House that "they don't want to get into the business of detaining children or families" again due to concerns about "safety, cost, and harm."

"We've seen family detentions before," a source from the agency told Sargent, "and it's been not pretty."

Biden appears motivated to introduce a crackdown on immigration to avoid criticism from the Republican Party, but as Sargent noted, "Republicans will attack him for creating no new consequences for border crossings even as we are seeing an escalation in them."

"But such attacks should be harder to mount if even ICE officials aren't on board with family detentions," he added. "And there's no reason for the administration to let fear of GOP attacks dictate anything. Instead, Biden should hew to the values that led him to criticize the practice in the first place and forcefully defend that decision."

Saudi/China/Iran deal

US 'Imperial Anxieties' Mount Over China-Brokered Iran-Saudi Arabia Diplomatic Deal

While advocates of peace and a multipolar world order welcomed Friday's China-brokered agreement reestablishing diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, U.S. press, pundits, and politicians expressed what one observer called "imperial anxieties" over the deal and growing Chinese influence in a region dominated by the United States for decades.

The deal struck between the two countries—which are fighting a proxy war in Yemen—to normalize relations after seven years of severance was hailed by Wang Yi, China's top diplomat, as "a victory of dialogue and peace."

The three nations said in a joint statement that the agreement is an "affirmation of the respect for the sovereignty of states and non-interference in internal affairs."

"The U.S. encourages war while China pushes the opposite."

Iran and Saudi Arabia "also expressed their appreciation and gratitude to the leadership and government of the People's Republic of China for hosting and sponsoring the talks, and the efforts it placed towards its success," the statement said.

United Nations spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric thanked China for its role in the deal, asserting in a statement that "good neighborly relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia are essential for the stability of the Gulf region."

Amy Hawthorne, deputy director for research at the Project on Middle East Democracy, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit group, toldThe New York Times that "China's prestigious accomplishment vaults it into a new league diplomatically and outshines anything the U.S. has been able to achieve in the region since [President Joe] Biden came to office."

Yun Sun, director of the China program at the Stimson Center, a think tank in Washington, D.C., called the deal a sign of "a battle of narratives for the future of the international order."

CNN's Tamara Qiblawi called the agreement "the start of a new era, with China front and center."

Meanwhile, Ahmed Aboudouh, a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council, another D.C. think tank, wrote that "China just left the U.S. with a bloody nose in the Gulf."

At the Carnegie Endowment, yet another think tank located in the nation's capital, senior fellow Aaron David Miller tweeted that the deal "boosts Beijing and legitimizes Tehran. It's a middle finger to Biden and a practical calculation of Saudi interests"

Some observers compared U.S. and Chinese policies and actions in the Middle East.

"The U.S. is supporting one side and suppressing the other, while China is trying to make both parties move closer," Wu Xinbo, dean of international studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, told the Times. "It is a different diplomatic paradigm."

Murtaza Hussein, a reporter for The Intercept,tweeted that the fact that the agreement "was mediated by China as a trusted outside party shows shortcomings of belligerent U.S. approach to the region."

While cautiously welcoming the agreement, Biden administration officials expressed skepticism that Iran would live up to its end of the bargain.

"This is not a regime that typically does honor its word, so we hope that they do," White House National Security Council Strategic Coordinator John Kirby told reporters on Friday—apparently without any sense of irony over the fact that the United States unilaterally abrogated the Iran nuclear deal during the Trump administration.

Kirby added that the Biden administration would "like to see this war in Yemen end," but he did not acknowledge U.S. support for the Saudi-led intervention in a civil war that's directly or indirectly killed nearly 400,000 people since 2014, according to United Nations humanitarian officials.

U.S relations with Saudi Arabia have been strained during the tenure of President Joe Biden. While Biden—who once vowed to make the repressive kingdom a "pariah" over the gruesome murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi—has been willing to tolerate Saudi human rights abuses and war crimes, the president has expressed anger and frustration over the monarchy's decision to reduce oil production amid soaring U.S. gasoline prices and Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Nevertheless, the Biden administration is currently trying to broker a peace deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel following the Trump administration's mediation of the Abraham Accords, a series of diplomatic normalization agreements between Israel and erstwhile enemies the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

The United States, which played a key role in overthrowing Iran's progressive government in a 1953 coup, has not had diplomatic relations with Tehran since shortly after the current Islamist regime overthrew the U.S.-backed monarchy that ruled with a brutal hand for 25 years following the coup.

Jonathan Panikoff, director of the Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative in the Middle East Programs for the Atlantic Council, urged the U.S. to maintain friendly relations with brutal dictatorships in the region in order to prevent Chinese hegemony there.

Panikoff wrote in an Atlantic Council analysis:

We may now be seeing the emergence of China's political role in the region and it should be a warning to U.S. policymakers: Leave the Middle East and abandon ties with sometimes frustrating, even barbarous, but long-standing allies, and you'll simply be leaving a vacuum for China to fill. And make no mistake, a China-dominated Middle East would fundamentally undermine U.S. commercial, energy, and national security.

Other observers also worried about China's rising power in the Middle East and beyond.

New York Times China correspondent David Pierson wrote Saturday that China's role in the Iran-Saudi Arabia rapprochement shows Chinese President Xi Jinping's "ambition of offering an alternative to a U.S.-led world order."

According to Pierson:

The vision Mr. Xi has laid out is one that wrests power from Washington in favor of multilateralism and so-called noninterference, a word that China uses to argue that nations should not meddle in each other's internal affairs, by criticizing human rights abuses, for example.

The Saudi-Iran agreement reflects this vision. China's engagement in the region has for years been rooted in delivering mutual economic benefits and shunning Western ideals of liberalism that have complicated Washington’s ability to expand its presence in the Gulf.

Pierson noted Xi's Global Security Initiative, which seeks to promote "peaceful coexistence" in a multipolar world that eschews "unilateralism, bloc confrontation, and hegemonism" like U.S. invasions and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

"Some analysts say the initiative is essentially a bid to advance Chinese interests by displacing Washington as the world's policeman," wrote Pierson. "The plan calls for respect of countries' 'indivisible security,' a Soviet term used to argue against U.S.-led alliances on China's periphery."

The U.S. has attacked, invaded, or occupied more than 20 countries since 1950. During that same period, China has invaded two countries—India and Vietnam.

"The Chinese, who for years played only a secondary role in the region, have suddenly transformed themselves into the new power player."

New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker also published an article Saturday about how the "China-brokered deal upends Mideast diplomacy and challenges [the] U.S."

"The Americans, who have been the central actors in the Middle East for the past three-quarters of a century, almost always the ones in the room where it happened, now find themselves on the sidelines during a moment of significant change," fretted Baker. "The Chinese, who for years played only a secondary role in the region, have suddenly transformed themselves into the new power player."

Some experts asserted that more peace in the Middle East would be a good thing, no matter who brokers it.

"While many in Washington will view China's emerging role as mediator in the Middle East as a threat, the reality is that a more stable Middle East where the Iranians and Saudis aren't at each other's throats also benefits the United States," tweeted Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Washington, D.C.-based Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.

"Unfortunately, the U.S. has adopted an approach to the region that has disabled it from becoming a credible mediator," he lamented. "Too often, Washington takes sides in conflicts and becomes a co-belligerent—as in Yemen—which then reduces its ability to play the role of peacemaker."

"Washington should avoid a scenario where regional players view America as an entrenched warmaker and China as a flexible peacemaker," Parsi cautioned.