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The Future of U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East

Egypt's President El-Sisi, Saudi Arabia's King Salman, U.S. President Trump and his wife
Egypt's President El-Sisi, Saudi Arabia's King Salman, U.S. President Trump and his wife

The dominating state of extreme political polarization, among American citizens, is making it difficult to predict the results of the upcoming U.S. presidential elections, in November. Here we are, a few days apart from voting day, and still, reputable public opinion surveyors cannot predict whether Trump or Biden has a higher potential for victory.

However, only one of two scenarios is expected, out of this particular election, for the Middle East. Either Trump wins and proceeds with his current foreign policy agenda in the region, or Biden wins and works hard to alter everything Trump’s foreign policy has accomplished in the Middle East. Unfortunately, Biden has not provided any clearly defined agenda on what he plans to do with the Middle East, if he becomes a president. He is only repeating some nostalgic phrases from the Obama era about adopting a new approach towards the Islamic world; except that he lacks former president Obama's charisma and credibility.

It is not a secret that most Middle Eastern regimes, excluding Iran, are hoping that the current president Trump wins the elections in November. The pragmatic 'personal diplomacy' approach of the Trump administration helped all the parties in the region to become better off, in the past four years. That is not only true for Arab states, but also, for non-Arab countries like Turkey and Israel.

* Egypt got the space and time needed to self-recover from the economic and political failures caused by the Arab Spring and its dire aftermath, without the pressing American pressure to give priority to human rights and democratization.

* Gulf states got a chance to firmly stand up against Qatar’s policy of using Islamist organizations to deliberately inflict harm on its Arab neighbors by targeting their security and stability.

* Saudi Arabia was, temporarily, relieved from the Iranian threat at its southern borders in Yemen, due to the extreme pressure of U.S. sanctions on the Iranian regime.

* Hizbollah in Lebanon has become much weaker and less influential on regional and local levels.

* Syria and Iraq were partially relieved from the Iranian militia intervention by the killing of the Iranian General Sulimani, and the defeat of the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist organization.

* Sudan is witnessing a long-waited political change that will eventually benefit, not only the Sudanese people but also Africa and the Middle East; by putting an end to the former regime’s tolerance of terrorism that turned Sudan into a hotbed for both African and Middle Eastern terrorists.

* Israel has, finally, been able to claim a better regional status and to get properly integrated into its regional context, thanks to the U.S.-sponsored Abraham Accords with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Sudan. That is in addition to the unprecedented progress in Israel’s political and security relations with its closest neighbors; Egypt and Jordan.

* Turkey, despite its standing relation with Iran and Russia, and conflicting interests with the U.S., in Syria, has remained a strong ally to the United States, because of the one-on-one deals between Trump and Erdogan. Turkey’s expansionist policy in the Middle East, Africa, and the Mediterranean reached a peak point, under the Trump administration.

Now, what if Biden wins the elections and becomes the next U.S. President? Can Biden change the Middle East or erase the footsteps of the Trump administration on the region? In other words, would Biden’s foreign policy in the Middle East and North Africa, as defined by the far-leftists of the Democratic Party, threaten the current state of relative and cautious stability in the region?

That is highly unlikely! The Middle East we are living in today is much different than the Middle East of 2009, when Obama came into power, and the Middle East of 2016 when Trump came into power. It is more stable, united, and pragmatic.

* The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with its emotionally complicated echoes, is not the central issue in the region, anymore. Israel is more safe in its regional context, today, and this is something Biden does not want to threaten or disturb.

* The military powers of main regional players - namely Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and UAE - have grown stronger and smarter than ever before. It is in the best interest of Biden to continue enhancing strategic and military partnerships with these countries.

* The economic investments by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in rebalancing the political powers of the region, played a tremendous role in ensuring relative stability in the face of the harmful attacks by the triangle of evil - Turkey, Iran, and Qatar. This newly found state of relative stability is serving U.S. economic and political interests in the Middle East, too. Biden, if he becomes a president, cannot afford the risk of shaking the well-established economic ties with Saudi and Emirates to please his supporters from the Muslim Brotherhood and their sponsors in the Qatari regime.

* Despite the foolishness of Erdogan's regime, Turkey shall always remain an important strategic partner for the United States. Turkey is a NATO ally and the owner of the second biggest military in the NATO. Biden’s statements, in a New York Times interview from December 2019, about inciting local opposition against Erdogan, were nothing but wishful thinking inspired by the legacies of the Arab Spring. In reality, regime change in Turkey is not probable, at least in the coming four years of the next presidential term. Even if Erdogan is removed from power, he will be followed by one of the leading figures in his regime. A recent survey showed that Turkish Minister of Defense Hulusi Akar is getting more popular than Erdogan among AKP party members and that he is the closest to taking Erdogan’s seat.

In short, the only practical option Biden has, in case he becomes the next U.S. president, is to complete what Trump has started in the Middle East region. That is if he wants to serve the interests of the American people, rather than satisfying the narrow emotional interests of his supporters from the Muslim Brotherhood and the far left.


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