The US presidential elections were also closely monitored in the Middle East. After four years of President Trump‘s America First Policy, Biden will soon be in charge. He will look up the dialogue more often and want to work together. How does he respond to his victory in the Middle East and what can we expect?
President Trump is a loyal ally of Saudi Arabia, a country that is often compromised when it comes to human rights violations. Many women activists and critics of the royal family are stuck. “With Trump, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was able to do his business,” says Middle East correspondent Daisy Mohr. “He often held his hand over his head and expressed little criticism.”
Take the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He was killed in October 2018 at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. According to the American CIA, the Crown Prince personally ordered the murder. But President Trump did little with it, spared Mohammed bin Salman and said that the United States will remain a “loyal partner” of Saudi Arabia.
Incoming President Joe Biden described this as a “dangerous blank check” from Trump to the Saudi kingdom. Last month, Biden said that he would revise relations with Saudi Arabia. He also wanted to put an end to American support for Saudi Arabia for the war in Yemen, which has already claimed tens of thousands of lives. “We will certainly see a change in that,” says Mohr.
With the arrival of Biden, the ties between Saudi Arabia and the US will be slightly less warm, it is expected. Congratulations to the next President were therefore waiting for more than a day.
Saudi Arabia was also very pleased with Trump because of its strategy of “maximum pressure” on archenemy Iran. Trump dropped out of the nuclear agreement with Iran in 2018 and imposed the country’s toughest sanctions it has ever known. Iran ended up in a severe economic crisis, aggravated by the coronapandemic.
Biden says he wants to restore the nuclear deal, provided Iran adheres to the agreements on the nuclear programme. Iranian President Rohani welcomes the Democrat‘s victory and says he wants to work together if he corrects the mistakes of his predecessor. In particular, he is referring to the restoration of the nuclear agreement and the lifting of sanctions. This will enable Iranian oil exports to be restarted, an important source of revenue.
Check out what happened with the Iran-deal:
But the actual ruler ayatollah Khamenei does not trust the United States, regardless of who is in the White House. “The success of the negotiations on the nuclear deal is therefore not guaranteed in advance,” says Mohr. “The distrust of each other is great and this has only exacerbated in recent years. It will take time to regain confidence and build relationships.”
In addition, the Mohr also stands out that best Iranian citizens would rather see Trump than Biden. “It’s not that they love Trump, but he spoke firm language against the rulers. For many Iranians, he was the last hope of freeing them from the regime.”
During the election campaign four years ago, Trump promised to withdraw all US troops from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. It yielded him votes from Americans who were war-weary and would rather see the billions of dollars in defense spent on domestic needs. But it also damaged America‘s reputation as a loyal ally in the region.
Four years later, there are still thousands of American soldiers in the Middle East. Biden wants to withdraw it just like Trump, but less abruptly. He thinks it should be done responsibly. He also wants to keep some troops in the region in order to prevent terrorist groups from growing again.
Israel and the Palestinian Territories
the beginning of this year, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu called Trump “the greatest friend Israel has ever had in the White House”. President Trump has proven himself as a loyal ally in recent years. He moved the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, acknowledged Israeli sovereignty in the occupied Golan Heights and stopped donations to aid organizations for the Palestinians because the money would not be well spent. He also presented a controversial peace plan in favour of Israel and recently intervened in diplomatic agreements between Israel and some Arab countries. So Prime Minister Netanyahu is losing an important ally. On Twitter, he thanked Trump for his commitment to Israel and congratulated Biden on the profits. He wrote that he was the Democrat already almostforty years and that he knows that he is a great friend of Israel. The question is whether Biden will indeed be as faithful as Trump.
“ Biden is indeed known as pro-Israeli,” says correspondent Ties Brock from Israel. “But that does not mean that he will sail the same course as Trump. For example, he wants to reestablish ties with the Palestinians and resume financial support for them. He is also in favour of a two-state solution and critical of the construction of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory. Brock emphasizes that Trump left a legacy that Biden won’t undo. For example, he will not move the US Embassy back to Tel Aviv and will support the diplomatic agreements between Israel and Arab countries. Biden encourages other countries in the region to conclude similar deals. “The Palestinians know that under Biden they will not simply have their own state or that the growth of settlements will end. But at least he seems willing to talk to the Palestinians and listen to their wishes.”