Distinct Policies of Biden Administration in Middle East -Ahmad Bhuiyan
It seems that US President Joe Biden is going to start implementing his Middle East policy as he took a number of steps last month. The first is that he informed Congress about the exclusion of Houthis in Yemen from the official list of terrorist organizations. Second, he said the United States would stop supporting the Saudi-led operation in Yemen and review relations with the country in light of Saudi human rights records. The third step is the interest to enter into the nuclear deal with Iran. The move signals a fundamental shift in US policy toward the Middle East. The question, of course, is how and to what extent this change will affect the reality of the region.
The Trump administration’s position was to cripple Iran’s nuclear Iran internally. The bans were designed that way. The decision to remove Houthi from the terrorist list and review the Saudi human rights record is particularly significant in this regard. This is an indication that the Biden administration is moving towards a new policy. The United States has promised to restore the nuclear deal with Iran. However, the situation in which it was signed in the Middle East was quite different from what it is now. In today’s Middle East, the solution to the Iranian problem seems to be becoming a bit more local. Apart from Iran, there are three other powerful states in the Persian Gulf region from the Mediterranean. These three countries are Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
The Biden administration won’t maintain the ‘MBS-Bin Jayed-Jerad Qushnar’ cycle that Trump used to follow. A new coalition government could come to power in Israel through upcoming Israeli elections. On the other hand, recently the cancel of S-35 delivery indicates that the Biden administration will not give much importance to bin Zayed, even if Israel continues to negotiate with him. And the fact that America takes human rights issues seriously and has stopped supporting the war in Yemen, which makes clear that Biden probably does not want Mohammed bin Salman as the next king. “We want to make it clear from the beginning that we want to change our relationship with Saudi Arabia,” said Jane Sackie, a White House special envoy. But, formerly MBS was at the center of Trump’s Middle East policy because of the friendship with Trump’s Son-in Law Jared Kushner. But now the Biden administration is in direct diplomatic contact with Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, which is seen as a sign of deteriorating US relations with MBS.
Although Turkey is a NATO ally of the United States, Biden does not want President Erdogan very much. Fifty-four U.S. senators have jointly called on to take action against Erdogan’s alleged fundamental rights violations. They say Turkey has opted for a regional power exhibition. The Biden administration’s somewhat hostile attitude towards Turkey is reflected in a number of incidents.
It also signals initial work are that Israel could begin talks on establishing a Palestinian state where the Palestinian Authority would be sidelined, given Jerusalem’s capital and the territories it has annexed to the West Bank. The role of the United States in these talks will be more flexible than it was during Trump’s time. But the basic is that America would probably not violate Israel’s interests.
Biden’s actions seems to give Iran more opportunities to dominate the Middle East. The process that the Obama administration began with the signing of a nuclear deal with six powerful nations has reversed the process since Trump came to power. Biden wants to get it back on track. This means that Iran is creating an area of ??cooperation between the United States and the Middle East. However, Biden’s efforts to improve relations with Iran will be most unsatisfactory to Saudi Arabia.
There is no room for questioning the commitment of the United States, regardless of party affiliation, to protect Israel’s security interests. Whether aggressively or flexibly, Israel’s interests will not be compromised by Washington. It is easy to assume that the United States is the biggest catalyst behind the establishment of the state of Israel, its survival and the state of Israel today. But no US president has taken any action or the steps taken have been successful.
During the Trump administration, partisanship towards Israelis and hostile treatment of Palestinians has pushed the peace process far and wide, while the acceptance of the United States as a mediator has diminished. Defying International law, Mr. Trump shamelessly supported Israeli occupation and the settlement in the occupied territories, just as America’s biased role was condemned globally. Many politicians within the United States have spoken out against Trump’s biased behavior. Although Donald Trump did not succeed in his so-called “Deal of the Century”, he succeeded in two ways. First, he encouraged Israel to be more aggressive by legitimizing Israeli illegal activities. The Trump era is over. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has already congratulated Joe Biden. A few days ago, Richard Mills, the acting US ambassador to the United Nations in the Security Council, said, “The Middle East policy of US President Joe Biden is; To assist in reaching a mutually agreed bilateral solution. So that the people of Palestine, along with Israel, can live in permanent peace and security.
‘President Biden has made it clear that he will re-launch the US assistance project to advance the Palestinian people’s financial development programs and humanitarian activities. He will take steps to resume diplomatic missions that have been shut down by the Trump administration. Joe Biden also openly opposed Israeli occupation during his time as vice president. Unity of the Palestinian people as well as the united efforts of the Arab countries is required to make Biden’s policies fruitful. And there is no alternative of consensus between Hamas and Fatah to advance the Palestinian peace process.
Democrats consider the nuclear deal (JCPOA) signed by President Obama in 2015 as one of their achievements. But when President Trump came to power, he canceled the agreement in 2016. His move led to the final deterioration of US relations with Iran. Following the departure of President Donald Trump, the international powers’ nuclear deal with Iran was expected to return to normal. President Joe Biden has abandoned Trump’s “let’s go it alone” policy on a number of international issues and has begun working with other countries. But no progress is being made on Iran’s issue. Although Biden made that promise in his election campaign, in reality, the task is not going to be easy at all. US President Joe Biden has said, he will not lift economic sanctions on Iran unless it agrees to the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal. On the contrary, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said, Tehran will return to the deal only if the United States lifts all economic sanctions on it first. Iran’s expectations on the nuclear deal are clear. Tehran claims that since Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal in 2016, Biden will have to unconditionally return to the deal. The unilateral sanctions imposed by the Trump administration must also be lifted. Only then, Iran will again abide by all the terms of the agreement. Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China, as the remaining signatories to the treaty could assist in that process. It should be noted that because of that, since 2019, Iran has not complied with some of the terms of the agreement. Time will say whether the United States will be re-included in the nuclear agreement.
While Trump and Biden agree on the question of Israel’s integrity, they clearly differ on some of the policies in Middle East. Whatever, People’s expectations in the days to come that Unlike Trump, Biden will prioritize macro interests over micro and will engage himself as a hero in establishing world peace.
The writer is an independent analyst on international & economic issues.