Biden era: Optimism and fear in ME

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United States President-elect Joe Biden has nominated former Obama administration officials, and close advisers, to head his foreign policy team [AP/UNB Photo]

What significance will the results of the presidential election have on the international community, and in particular Middle East?

How will US foreign policy change under the Biden era?

What is Joe Biden's position on the Middle East crises and issues?

Will Biden "freeze" the deal of the century and adopt the two-state solution to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict?

Will the US President-elect open a new page with Iran? Or will he continue to use the Iran card as a scarecrow to continue blackmailing the Gulf states and continuing the American bases in the region? How will he work to ensure that Iran does not acquire nuclear weapons?

On the same day that I am writing this article (Tuesday, November 24, 2020), I read a statement by Mahmoud Al-Aloul, Vice President of the Palestinian "Fatah" movement, in which he talked about reaching understandings with the electoral campaign management of the Democratic candidate for the American presidential elections, Joe Biden.

Al-Aloul considered that the Palestinians must "wait until the end of what he described as the current epidemic represented by the Trump administration, while maintaining the political and popular mobility to confront the attempts to liquidate the Palestinian cause."

While it seemed to be wooing the new American administration in advance, immediately after announcing the victory of the presidential candidate, Joe Biden, the Palestinian Authority suddenly, without introductions, free of charge, voluntarily and without guarantees, officially announced the return of Palestinian-Israeli relations, and the return of joint security coordination between its security services, and its acceptance of recovering the clearing money that it refrained from receiving.

So did the Palestinian Authority believe the promises of the new American administration, and felt comfortable after the fall of the Trump, the owner of the deal of the century.

Did the Palestinian believes the Bidens promises and supports of the two-state solution, and does not agree with President Trump's decisions regarding Jerusalem and refugees.

And does the Palestinian Authority hope that the new president will be satisfied with it, return to sponsoring bilateral negotiations with a kind of credibility, and pledge to reopen the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington, and return financial disbursement orders to independent Palestinian institutions, hospitals, and construction and development projects that Trump froze their support and stopped funding?

In all cases, observers believe that the situation regarding the Palestinian issue and the Arab-Israeli conflict will remain confused, with the assertion that the outgoing President Donald Trump was the worst in dealing with the Palestinian issue, and the following positions can be expected from the new American administration in the ME:

- The problems of the Middle East, especially the Palestinian issue, will not be on the scale of Biden's concerns, as he will be preoccupied with the internal issues and problems of America that Trump has exploded, and he will appoint his own representative for the Middle East and then formulate his own vision as an alternative to Trump's deal, and all this will take time.

- The US President-elect will continue Obama's approach to spreading chaos in the Arab Spring and perhaps extend it to other countries.

- The Biden administration will bless and encourage the policy of Arab normalization with Israel.

- Observers in the region talk about uncomfortable indications that the victory of Democrat Biden has already raised some concern in the Arab Gulf states, and other countries on the grounds that the Democratic Party was behind the phenomenon of the chaos of the Arab Spring, as the party was supportive of Islam groups, specifically the Muslim Brotherhood.

- Fears also rage that Biden's victory may cause Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to leave the Israeli political scene, and on the contrary, Biden's coming has caused a state of comfort for the Palestinian leadership in the hope that it will get out of the political and economic deadlock throughout the Trump era.

- It is expected that Biden, will follow almost the same path as former President Barack Obama, especially as he was Obama's deputy for 8 years, and this approach was characterized by evasiveness and work to manage the crisis and not solve it, and it is known that negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis were stalled during the era of Obama and his deputy Biden. And Israel was continuing the settlements without any American objection. Rather, America during Obama's democratic era was the protector of Israel against all attempts to condemn it in the United Nations.

- With regard to the Iranian file, Joe Biden had announced that he was ready to return to another international agreement abandoned by Trump, the Iranian nuclear deal under which sanctions on Iran were canceled in exchange for reducing its nuclear program.

Biden says that the Trump administration’s policy of "maximum pressure" has failed, stressing that it has led to a significant escalation of tension and that the allies are against this policy, and that Iran is now closer to possessing a nuclear weapon than it was when Trump took power.

He says he will return to the nuclear deal if Iran returns to strict compliance, but he will not lift sanctions until then. Biden will then negotiate to dispel some of his concerns about the deal, like President Trump.

- With regard to the war in Yemen, observers believe that Biden may abandon the policy of his predecessor Trump, which believes that Saudi Arabia is the strongest partner in the coalition against Iran, which may result in stopping US support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, in light of the emergence of strong opposition to American participation In this war, especially the left wing of the Democratic Party and an increasing number of members of Congress.

- Finally, and with regard to the American military presence in the Middle East, President-elect Joe Biden agrees with his predecessor Trump that the American military presence in the region should be reduced to the lowest possible degree, and in case of need, there must remain between one and five hundred to two thousand soldiers of the Special Forces to work with Local partners to confront terrorist groups such as the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

Biden said in an interview with the US Army magazine Stars and Stripes that the era of infinite wars must end. "These endless wars must end. I support the reduction of forces abroad, but we must not lose sight of the issue of terrorism and the Islamic state," Biden said.

Biden described the situation in the countries where American forces are deployed, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan as complicated and he cannot pledge to completely withdraw American forces from them in the near future.

Biden believes that the mission of the US forces should be limited to helping local partners to confront groups that could threaten the interests of the United States and its partners, and that it should not play any political role in these countries.

Kamal Gaballa is a Cairo-based journalist and ex-Managing Editor of Al-Ahram

  • Middle East
  • Joe Biden
  • Palestinian
  • Donald Trump

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