Biden’s Middle East Plan is going to be more moderate than Trump’s foreign policy towards the region.
Joe Biden is elected as the 46th president of the United States of America. For understanding his political approach towards the Middle East, it is good to know few facts about his career, starting with his vice-presidency under Barrack Obama. Joe Biden has served America as its 47th vice-president for eight years, from 2009 to 2017. Opening the pages of his early life and career, you will come to know that he was raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and New Castle County, Delaware. He earned his graduation in 1965 from the University of Delaware. He earned a law degree in 1968, from Syracuse University, New York. His political career started in 1972 when he was elected as a senator in US Senate. He was 29 then, becoming the fifth-youngest senator in history. Though he left politics for a while due to an accident losing his loved ones, but he was persuaded to rejoin his career and then on he was reelected for six consecutive times becoming Delaware’s longest-serving senator. He also served as an adjunct professor for about two decades from 1991 to 2008, at the Willington, Delaware, branch of the Widener University School of Law.
Biden remained outspoken on the Kosovo conflict in the 1990s, and he also proposed a partition plan as a way to maintain a united and peaceful Iraq. He was blunt during his vice-presidency on Iraq in 2015 when the internationally known Islamic State (IS) had created a mess on the Iraqi soil. Obama honored him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, just a few days before leaving the White House in January 2017.
Moving onward, Biden is elected as the 46th president of the United States. Though his words sound clear about his policies towards the Middle East, but actions matter more in politics than words. As it is said, “Actions speak louder than words.”
After knowing little about his political career, now it will become easier to evaluate his Middle East Plan, which will be done in different headings.
It becomes much difficult to decide whether Iran comes first in the brains of the American sitting in the White House or Israel when they sit to design a Middle East policy. But that is pretty much clear from Biden’s moderate approach that he is going to think about Iran first and Israel next. Why is that so? Because, Iranian elections are the second most focused elections in the world, obviously US elections on number one. Iran has earned this status after loads of sanctions, counter strategies in the Middle East, and then announcing to never give up. US’s rigid strategies have earned Iran this status and Iran is the most haunting dragon against America in the region now. Barrack Obama and his vice president Joe Biden tried to cover up the fault lines and pave ways for negotiations but did not work pretty much. Salt in the injury came when the sitting US President Donald J. Trump withdrew America from JCPOA (The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action); an agreement that reached on Iran Nuclear Program. Biden has made it obvious that his approach will be moderate toward the Islamic Republic of Iran, where he might rejoin JCPOA. This will hamper the Israeli agenda of isolating Iran in the region, but will surely earn America a chance of unification at home, where Biden has already promised to unify divided America. And the mega plus is, Tehran and Iranians have also become fed up from the continuous thaw in the US-Iran relations and US-imposed sanctions against Iran.
Israel was the number one priority of Donald Trump in the region. He bestowed her the sacred city of Jerusalem. He did not stop here. He went on and made UAE (United Arab Emirates) and Bahrain normalize ties with Israel, Netanyahu calling it the ‘deal of the century’. Whereas you won’t be wrong to argue that Israel has lost a good friend in the White House as Biden might never favor her as much as Trump did. Oil in the fire is that Biden has signaled soft ties with Iran, which will surely hurt Israel’s interests in the region as she is already surrounded by rival states in the region, backed by Tehran. Palestinian issue still on the table is another matter that will attract the attention of the critiques of the newly elected president. AIPAC (American Israeli Public Affairs Committee), the king of the lobbies might face tough situations to pursue American policy-makers to frame pro-Israel policies as it faced during the Obama administration. Cutting the story short, Israel cannot tolerate US’s soft or even moderate approach towards Iran, and this is the most exciting fact to be observed during Biden’s implementation of his policies countering America’s own watchdog, Israel.
Deciding the priority number three of America under Biden in the region is another tough question, as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, and Libya are all lined in the row to be that priority after Iran and Israel. Saudi Arabia’s sharp policies of purchasing a chunk of arms from the United States of America and convincing her allies as UAE and Bahrain to cooperate with the US regarding normalizing ties with the American ally (Israel) in the region are two mega reasons for putting her on number three in the list. Biden once again has made it crystal clear that Saudi Arabia will not enjoy American friendship beyond human rights. Biden was one of the harshest criticizers of Saudi Arabia after the murder of a journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. He has also remained vocal about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s (KSA) anti-human rights policies against Yemen. Saudi Arabia’s inhumane policies against her Shia population are also not something negligible. Therefore, it is quite obvious that Biden’s policies toward KSA are going to give the Kingdom few great tough shots to amend its traditional policies towards its people and the region.
Iraq is number four in the list as Obama had promised to withdraw all the American troops from Iraq when Biden was the vice president of the country. Though the promise was partially achieved but with American insult, as the United States neither could find WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction) in Iraq, nor it could install stable democracy there. Biden’s Middle East approach shows that he might not be able to snatch Iran’s influence in Baghdad, but he might give little attempts to support Iraq to bridge a stable political system, creating healthy chances of withdrawing all the US troops from the Iraqi soil. Whereas what role he expects from Iran or Iraq, is a worth waiting question for now.
It is rightly argued that Syria is the chessboard of the twenty-first century. The number of actors and non-state actors is not possible to be counted at once and all as the war is still on in the country. Though Syria favors Russia far more than America, but US has made several efforts to settle its boots on the Syrian soil. Even Iran is on the lead against America in Damascus, but this is not going to stop Biden from making efforts to make room for American space in the state. If Biden is going to bridge ties between Damascus and Washington, then the best route goes from Tehran. If Biden tries to win Assad’s heart to maintain American presence in the state, then his policies might give contradictory images as on one side he is criticizing Saudi Arabia’s inhuman policies and on the other hand, he is giving an American hand to another brutal dictator. Hence, it can be stated that Biden’s Syria plan is not luminous yet.
Libya’s burning question is the city of Tripoli, where on one side the forces of Khalifa Haftar are backed by few certain states of the region, and others are backed by the rival states, making the situation worse. The American presence in Libya is not crucial for Biden as the mighty elephants of the region are already under his lens. But Russian and Turkish presence in Libya might compel Biden to take a strong stance regarding Turkey as Egypt, a US ally is also backing Haftar’s forces in the march to gain control of the golden duck, Tripoli.
You must be wondering about the positioning of Turkey after Syria, Iraq, and Libya. Let’s open the folds then. Ankara is positioned on this number not because America or Biden’s America do not want Turkey in its basket, but vice-versa. Erdogan made enough attempts to get Turkey into the European Union but failed all times. Realizing the multipolar nature of the globe, Erdogan has now set his eyes on the Muslim world, trying to revive the caliphate through cinema, literature, and politics. His inclination toward Kremlin is obvious that he is not much hopeful from America or the West anymore. Undoubtedly, he has created a great space in the hearts of the Muslims around by introducing new versions of secularism, converting Hagia Sophia into a masjid (mosque), and appearing on the set of record-breaking series, ‘Resurrection Ertugrul’. He has also shown the willingness of supporting the idea of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan’s idea of launching a TV channel that will counter Islamophobia. These and many more Erdogan style policies must have made it clear for Biden that Turkey is better to be left now until the tides turn down against Iran in the region, as Iran is also a front leading state of the loosely attached revisionist bloc, including the People’s Republic of China, Russia, and North Korea.
The other States of the Region
All other states of the region as that Palestine, Lebanon, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Yemen, Egypt, and more, they and their fates depend on Biden’s policies toward the already mentioned states, as they possess no such political or strategic significance in the brains of the US think thanks as the mentioned states do. To nib the bud, Biden’s Middle East Plan seems more promising and prosperous than the current president of the USA. Whereas it can also not be neglected that every American president favors power first and prosperity next. Therefore, not to any surprise, Biden will also not waste any opportunity that can add more power to the American might.
Note: Pictures’ courtesy does not belong to the writer.