07.12.2020 Author: Viktor Mikhin

The Middle East: a New US Policy?

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As the official date of the so-called “democratic elections” for the new US president drifts further and further into the past, there are more reports of massive corruption, fraud, and ordinary petty rigging. These allegations cover the entire gamut of issues, from ballot collection to falsified software, from duplicate voting to votes cast by deceased people, from outdated voter lists to discrepancies with signatures, and from voter intimidation to altering the vote count.

Sources and observers in several states signed and submitted official reports that allege criminal activity during this “democratic” voting process.  Lawyers for President Donald Trump have filed more than 20 lawsuits in several states, and called for recounts in many others, and US Attorney General William Barr was compelled to authorize federal prosecutors to investigate all these alleged violations.

Here one could call to mind one very precise definition of democracy given by the eminent Alfred Nobel, who is still remembered with gratitude by millions of people living today. Perfectly aware of the laws prevalent in capitalist society and the democracy that is intrinsic to it, at the end of his life he came to the following conclusion:  “Democracy is a herd of sheep, ruled by a gang of swindlers and villains!” The current situation in the “democratic” United States could not be described any better.

But for now the issue involving the future president is being decided not by the Americans themselves, but by those who rule the “democratic” USA, and many experts and political analysts are trying to assess or, chances are, predict the future policy taken by the United States in the foreign arena, and in the Middle East in particular. While everything is clear about politics in the Republican Party, the Democrats will have to offer something new in order to overcome the legacy left by Donald Trump, and win trust in this highly complex region. It is quite understandable that because of his old age there are various foreign policy courses that Joe Biden is unlikely to personally pursue. Therefore, the makeup of his top-ranking officials is of great importance, as is above all else who will be the Secretary of State. Joe Biden is expected to appoint his longtime adviser Antony Blinken as the next Secretary of State, and this was confirmed by well-informed sources like the New York Times, CBS, CNN, and Bloomberg.

Antony Blinken is one of Joe Biden’s closest advisers. In 2009, when the latter was vice president, he served as his national security adviser. He later became Deputy National Security Advisor from 2013 to 2015 under President Barack Obama, and then Deputy Secretary of State from 2015 to 2017. At the start of Joe Biden’s primary campaign, he was appointed to lead his foreign policy team as its chief adviser. Last year, he represented Joe Biden’s campaign at numerous events and rallies, raising awareness about the candidate’s positions on foreign policy from China to Russia and the Middle East.

It is quite natural that one of the main issues on the table for him will be how to deal with Iran. In August, Blinken spoke at the de facto security forum held in Aspen, and defended the Obama administration’s report on the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. When asked what Joe Biden would do if he were elected president, he replied that “he will strive to develop the nuclear deal, and make it longer and stronger, if Iran goes back to strictly complying with it.” Then, Blinken continued, “we can leverage our renewed commitment to diplomacy, work with our allies, and strengthen and expand that. But we would also be in a much better position to effectively oppose Iran’s other destabilizing actions, because we will once again be united with our partners, and not isolated from them.”  He also raised the issue of the arms embargo on Iran, saying that there is a lot of irony in what can be heard from the Trump administration, which accuses the Obama-Biden administration of lifting restrictions on conventional weapons, because most of this was actually imposed by the Democratic administration. And the United States could probably, according to Antony Blinken, apply these bans in the bounds of the deal, by having a united front with its allies.

Joe Biden, according to the Democrats themselves, will take particular notice of the Israeli point of view on its relations with Iran by virtue of the strong influence that the Jewish lobby has in the US Congress, and in the Democratic Party itself. Accordingly, he may not immediately tackle the Iranian problem, and for some time he could prefer keeping to behind-the-scenes channels with Tehran, and may also count on European allies to help put pressure on Iran. But all this could fall through if Israel uses its influence to undermine the moves Joe Biden and Europe make, at which point he needs to foresee the Iranian reaction and return to Donald Trump’s policy of ratcheting up the sanctions against Iran.

Blinken could not turn a blind eye to the analysis on US-Israeli relations, having loudly and clearly stated that Joe Biden has an “iron” commitment to Israel’s security. “Until now, unfortunately, Israel has never represented a biased political issue,” he said. “And I think it is very bad for the United States, and for Israel, that someone is trying to turn that into one whole”.

Well, who would have doubted that Antony Blinken, an American of Jewish origin, could have any other opinion? It is quite obvious, whatever the Democrats may say, that the Joe Biden administration (if he comes to power) will also respect the interests of Israel, to the detriment of democracy and the interests held by the Palestinians. In May this year, Blinken spoke at a webinar organized by the pro-Israeli democratic group Democratic Majority for Israel. He said that the Democrats will keep disputes with Israel out of the public eye, and that Joe Biden strongly believes that differences should be kept as far away from friends as possible, behind closed doors, and with as little public distance as possible. That could, perhaps, not be expressed any more clearly.

Blinken reaffirmed his commitment to resuming aid to the Palestinians, adding that he will abide by the congressional restrictions that governs most of the aid to the Palestinian Authority, and which stop payments to Palestinians who have killed or injured Americans and Israelis, both in Palestine and elsewhere. He reiterated his and Joe Biden’s position that both of them would not put conditions on aid to Israel in any way. Joe Biden is categorically against that, said Antony Blinken. He would not link military aid to Israel with any political decisions he makes, period.

For his part, Joe Biden personally assured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a telephone conversation that the ties between their countries will remain strong. The conversation with Netanyahu and the separate conversation with President Reuven Rivlin, the New York Times stated, bolstered international recognition that Joe Biden is the next President of the United States, despite the ongoing assertion by current President Donald Trump that he won the election.

As far as peace between the Arabs and Israel goes, and the role played by Washington in ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, most likely the Democrats will fulfill their promise to ignore the initiative put forth by Donald Trump – and known as the “deal of the century” – and will try to convince both sides to start new negotiations, without any preconditions. The Israelis could be amenable to this, as long as Joe Biden does not abandon US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, or the legitimacy of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The Palestinians will have no choice but to negotiate, and with no results guaranteed. If the Palestinians refuse to participate in unconditional negotiations, the Democratic administration will be unsympathetic to their cause and, most likely, the policy taken by the Republicans will continue, who encouraged Arab countries to sign peace agreements with Israel without making them contingent on reaching a resolution to the Palestinian issue. To put it succinctly, the Palestinians cannot pin their hopes on either the Democrats or the Joe Biden administration.

But all this will happen only if Joe Biden becomes the next president of the “democratic” United States, and the restless Donald Trump will lose all lawsuits and then disappear into the oblivion of history.

Viktor Mikhin, corresponding member of RANS, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.


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