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12/01/2020

Biden’s strategy for the Middle East: key figures, new wars and conflicts

Biden’s strategy for the Middle East: key figures, new wars and conflicts

What are the fundamental differences between Joe Biden’s planned policies and those of Donald Trump; how will this affect the current geopolitical order?

Over the last 30 years, American democrats have traditionally pursued a policy of liberal interventionism – interference in the affairs of other states under the pretext of human rights and the protection of democracy. While in the 1990s under the Clinton administration America got involved in conflicts in Yugoslavia and Somalia, under Democrat Barack Obama – who was often referred to as a ‘peacekeeper’ in mainstream media – the US supported the ‘Arab Spring’, which turned into chaos, followed by a series of conflicts in Syria (where the US supported Islamist insurgents), Libya (the US and NATO military intervention) and Yemen, a change of power in Egypt, and the emergence and blossoming of ISIS. The attempted coup d’état in Turkey in 2016 also took place under Obama and current US presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Although Biden’s victory has not yet been officially confirmed, the potential outline of his foreign policy is already in place. In short, we can call this an attempt to rehabilitate a unipolar globalist world under US leadership, as well as justifying a new concept of American exclusivity.

Biden’s stated initiatives

On Tuesday November 24, Joe Biden introduced the members of his national security team.

“It’s a team that reflects the fact that America is back, ready to lead the world, not retreat from it, once again sit at the head of the table, ready to confront our adversaries and not reject our allies, ready to stand up for our values”,- emphasized the US President-elect in his opening speech.

Biden announced the foreign policy part of his election program back in July 2019 during a speech in New York. At that time he said he wanted to restore the global leadership of the US.

In summary, he made the following suggestions:

– Preserving America as a model of “democracy” for the world (easing the conditions for visitors and refugees, lifting the ban on refugees from Muslim countries).

– Increased funding for non-governmental organizations abroad and a summit in Washington to strengthen democracy around the world.

– “Fight back against Russia’s attacks on Western democracies”

– Transform the US economy the way to ‘win the competition for the future against China or anyone else”

– Put an end to the wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East

– Focus US external missions on Al Qaeda and ISIS

– Stop supporting the war in Yemen

– Strengthen alliances with Japan, South Korea and Australia

– Support the security of Israel

– Restore the nuclear deal with Iran

– Ensure the disarmament of the DPRK

– Extend the New START Treaty

– Put pressure on China, including ecology

Foreign policy people

It is worth highlighting points from the biographies of Biden’s entourage that will have a direct impact on US foreign policy if approved by the President.

It is important to note that all of them were in one way or another active members of Hillary Clinton/Barack Obama’s teams, indicating that Biden’s presidency will return to the old neoliberal tradition.

And given that many of them are directly linked to the military lobby and companies, there is no way to talk about the “end of the war” in the Middle East.

– Antony Blinken is the future state secretary

He previously worked as the Director of the Penn Biden Centre for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, a think tank.

Blinken is one of the co-founders of WestExec Advisors, a company that lobbies the interests of the American MIC, including drone manufacturers.

He is a longtime associate of Biden’s (since Biden was a senator) and served as Biden’s national security advisor when he was vice president.

He is Jewish and has long expressed his strong support for the state of Israel.

Blinken was largely responsible for the situation in Syria and also supported separatist Kurds in Turkey.

Blinken advocated the sending of more American troops to Syria and opposed a hasty withdrawal from the Middle East (de facto this means against any real withdrawal).

In 2019, Tony Blinken wrote a joint article with neocon Robert Kagan (husband of the notorious Victoria Nuland), where both politicians opposed the US scaling back its role in the world.

Blinken and Biden also allowed Saudi Arabia to intervene in Yemen in 2015.

– Jake Sullivan is the future national security advisor to the US President

Former State Department official and Assistant Hillary Clinton, who played a key role in negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran in 2015. He is considered to be a liberal interventionist.

He was called “the man behind hawkish Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy”

He became famous for his involvement in the Hillary Clinton email scandal. At the time, Clinton was accused of using personal mail to correspond at the state level (which is forbidden by law).

Sullivan is under investigation as one of Clinton’s three assistants who assisted Clinton in sending information.

Sullivan is very critical of Russia and believes in a general “Russian conspiracy”.

– Avril Haines – Director of National Intelligence

Representative of Barack Obama’s team and the Deep State.

Since 2011, she has been working for the National Security Council’s legal adviser. She is the first female Deputy Director of the CIA (2013-2015) and Deputy National Security Adviser to the President of the United States (2015-2017). She was an employee of WestExec Advisors. She was involved in the development of Obama’s policy in Syria and the creation of the “targeted killings” programme using drones. She covered for CIA hackers who hacked Senate computers in 2015 and participated in the Central Intelligence Agency torture investigation.

In 2018, she supported the current CIA head Gina Haspel in her bid for CIA Director. Haspel previously operated a secret CIA prison in Thailand, where torture was widely used.

– Linda Thomas-Greenfield is the future US representative to the UN

She is an African-American woman, one of the most prominent black American diplomats, and has worked for many years on African affairs in the US State Department. Some experts consider her a representative of the Deep State, a representative of liberal internationalism, having worked with the Madeleine Albright Stonebridge Group.

– John Kerry – Future special presidential envoy for climate change

The former US Secretary of State and presidential candidate needs no introduction. The Paris Climate Agreement 2015 is considered one of his major achievements as Secretary of State.

Kerry has been active in recent years in promoting the climate agenda and has participated in globalist events such as the World Economic Forum.

As many commentators have noticed, Joe Biden has not yet named the future Minister of Defence in his administration. For a long time, Michèle Flournoy was considered the main candidate for the post.

– Michèle Flournoy – a potential Minister of Defence.

She supported the wars in Iraq and Libya, and the US intervention in Afghanistan.

She supported intervention in Syria and was considered the most likely candidate for Minister of Defence if Hillary Clinton came to power in 2016. She also called for the creation of a no-fly zone in Syria.

Like Blinken is the co-founder of WestExec Advisers, giving credence to Biden’s opponents who have suggested the direct lobbying of military companies in the new power. She is also the founder of the Center for a New American Security which is tied to funding from leading United States defence companies. She is considered a leading figure defending the interests of the military industrial complex.

Main vectors

China: new economic and geopolitical realities

There is likely to be a fairly tight line held in relations with China when the new administration begins governance. Chinese experts and analysts expect a less volatile relationship with Washington under Biden, but do not believe the new administration will significantly depart from Donald Trump’s tough approach.

There is no particular reason to soften relations, as the main conflicting issues remain unchanged – Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang, Muslim minorities in China and the South China Sea, as well as increasing influence abroad. For example, Biden’s right hand, Vice-President Kamala Harris, advocates maximum pressure on Beijing over alleged violations of Uighur rights.

The Biden administration will criticize China not only from a trade perspective, but also on a whole range of issues, from the dominance of state-owned enterprises to human rights.

Back in May, Anthony Blinken said he would support sanctions in response to Beijing’s increased control over the semi-autonomous region of Hong Kong because of the national security law.

Of course, China’s technological and economic leap as well as its geopolitical reinforcement on all continents makes China (minimum) a practical competitor to the US and (maximum) one of its main opponents. Since the Biden administration is committed to restoring the unipolar world, the second option is more likely.

China’s rise is creating new economic and geopolitical realities that were previously impossible, says NBC News.

As an illustration, earlier this month, China and 14 countries signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world’s largest trade agreement. The Pact, which does not include the US, covers just under a third of the world’s population, amounting to around 30%.

The Biden administration, whatever ambitious plans for world leadership are being worked out by the new team, will have to admit that the era of isolating unwanted regimes has ended unilaterally, and the future of East Asia will depend on what happens in Beijing, not Washington.

Israel: continuing friendship

The policy towards Israel will be more restrained than under Trump, but the basic and ideological support of the Zionist state will remain the same.

Jake Sullivan and Michèle Flournoy are also considered friendly to Israel.

According to Israeli analysts, “Israel can sleep easy with Biden’s top foreign policy picks”.

Biden opposes Trump’s “Deal of the Century”, but the Foreign Policy Guidelines Manifesto confirmed support for Israel.

Kamala Harris has also traditionally supported Israel by opposing any sanctions measures.

President Benjamin Netanyahu’s main rival in Israel was General Benny Gantz, who is close to the American Democrats. The current Israeli government is a compromise. According to the terms of the coalition agreement, Netanyahu will be Prime Minister for half of his term and Gantz for another half.

That is, if Trump leaves the US presidency and then power changes hands in Israel, relations between Washington and Tel Aviv will still be strong. In addition, Israel is an important ally of the US in Middle Eastern politics, which, according to trends, promises to become a hotbed of political strife once again.

Part of Biden’s entourage, including Harris, openly supports Israel’s occupation policy including Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Forecasts for Turkey

Turkey naturally does not anticipate good relations with the US under Biden and is preparing for the worst. This is evidenced by the Turkish Parliament’s decision to approve a law on the repatriation of Turkish energy and mining companies established abroad – a step obviously aimed at protecting them from the impact of potential sanctions, which only thanks to Trump was delayed.

In addition to the threat of sanctions, potentially severe measures are being imposed on the Turkish state bank. Disputes also remain unresolved over the status of Kurdish militants in Syria, Turkey’s interests in the Mediterranean, Libya and others.

In addition, Biden openly said before the elections that he was ready to interfere in Turkey’s domestic politics. In an interview with the New York Times, Biden called Erdogan an “autocrat” and said that the US should support its opponents, arguing that “He [Erdogan] has to pay a price.”

In addition, Biden’s entourage is serious about supporting PKK terrorists in and near Turkey. In October 2019, Harris criticized Trump for the decision to withdraw troops in Syria from the Turkish border, as this gave Ankara the opportunity to conduct an operation against the PYD-YPG terrorists.

In May 2020, Tony Blinken said that the US should maintain its presence in Northeast Syria to help separatist Kurdish militias.

Europe

Under Trump, the globalist neoliberal links between the US and Europe were severely damaged. In the future, this could give Europe a chance to gradually become independent from the dictates of Washington and to pursue its own sovereign policy, taking into account the different interests and cultures of the countries.

However, with Biden’s arrival, there is a clear consensus on the Merkel-Macron-US line, which was strengthened under Obama. Biden does not hide his hopes for renewed influence on EU policy, seeing Brussels as a key partner in promoting American interests.

EU officials quickly congratulated Biden, confident that working with him would be easier. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron are committed to a warmer bilateral relationship as well as an improvement in NATO activities.

Biden will probably take the opportunity to review some key conditions. He may want to discuss the NATO budget and the conditions for renewed US participation in the Paris climate agreement, the World Trade Organization and the World Health Organization.

From the perspective of the EU reset, globalist leaders welcome Biden: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has already spoken of a “renewed partnership” between the two sides, congratulating Biden.

In the case of Brexit, Biden strongly opposes any “guarded border” between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. While Trump and Johnson shared a deep dislike for the EU as a rigid and dependent structure, Biden said he deeply regretted the UK’s exit from the EU. The UK is needed by Biden’s team as a bridge between the US and the EU, even if the country is already officially leaving the Union. There is always the customs issue and Ireland as a pressure tool.

Some countries will find themselves under pressure from both the EU and the US, with Hungary among them, as well as Poland in some cases. Washington’s rhetoric against the populist leaders in Europe, who have been and will be called “fascists”, “neo-Nazis”, “Suprematists” and other offensive names, will once again intensify.

Analysts suggest that under Biden it would be possible to develop and eventually deploy American medium-range missile systems in Europe, which would target Russian command centers and strategic facilities at very close range. In other words, Europe will again be used for active pressure in the East.

Russia

Biden’s victory promises a coordinated policy against Russia within the NATO alliance and internal political consensus. It was the Democratic Party that launched the investigation against Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election after Hillary Clinton was defeated.

Both the sanctions pressure and demonization of Moscow as the country’s main enemy (after China) will increase.

At the moment, Biden himself is not making any tough proposals, and is more focused on the arms control treaty. Proponents of arms control call on Joe Biden to extend the last Russian-American treaty limiting the deployment of strategic nuclear weapons by five years.

Biden’s entire team is sharply anti-Russian, and this will soon have an impact on both statements and actions.

Iran

So far, there has been a pause regarding Iran due to Biden’s stated promises to restore the nuclear deal with Iran. However, it is not yet clear under what conditions this will occur.

Relations with Iran under Trump, after the pressure of sanctions, the close US-Israeli alliance and the assassination of one of the most charismatic and beloved Iranian leaders, Qassem Soleimani, are at their lowest point.

Iran itself is still restrained in its comments regarding the possible presidency of Joe Biden. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said it would be easy to solve the country’s problems with the US as long as Joe Biden adheres to the commitments he made during his election campaign and if Washington compensates for the impact of sanctions on the Iranian economy. If the new administration is committed to reducing tensions and respecting the Iranian nation and international obligations, a return to conditions on 20 January 2017 is possible, Rouhani believes.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is more sceptical: “the path to lifting sanctions and years of negotiations” has not been concluded, he said.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE

A tougher line is planned for Saudi Arabia. The Democrats plan to stop funding the Saudi war in Yemen.

“Under a Biden-Harris administration, we will reassess our relationship with the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia], end US support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, and make sure America does not check its values at the door to sell arms or buy oil,” Biden said.

However, analysts tend to believe that these tough statements are temporary and that Biden is likely to take a balanced approach to audits without any serious pressure.

The same applies to the UAE – pressure is possible, but in general, close cooperation will continue.

One of the candidates for CIA director in Biden’s team, Michael Morrel, “enjoyed an especially cozy relationship with UAE ambassador Yousef Otaiba”, writes journalist Max Blumental.

American media reports that the UAE leadership has prepared in advance for the change of power in the US, having received support from Biden’s teams to normalize relations with Israel. Biden later openly supported this move. It is also noted that Biden did not criticize the UAE for the war in Yemen, unlike Saudi Arabia.

Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia are strategically important for the US to influence Middle East policy. They are also important markets for American arms. Given the role played by the American military-industrial complex’s mentors in Biden’s team, one should expect it to maintain close ties with these countries.

Latin America

For eight years Biden served as Vice President under Obama, including in 2009 when the elected President of Honduras was overthrown in a coup d’état whose success was ultimately ensured by the Obama-Biden administration. It was not only Honduras that suffered from neoliberal initiatives: Biden was proud to be “one of the architects of Plan Colombia,” a massive US aid package to the South American nation that was implemented in 2000 when Biden was a senator.

His current programme is “The Biden Plan to Build Security and Prospect in Partnership with the People of Central America”. Experts view the initiative as yet another attempt to restore US influence in the region. In fact, what Trump is criticized for in his Latin American policy was previously founded by Biden and Obama.

Africa

Donald Trump famously referred to African countries “shitholes”, and approved a new strategy for its policy on the African continent. Its key points are to counteract the influence of China and Russia and move towards targeted assistance to African countries and to improve the effectiveness of such assistance while eliminating inefficient spending.

Trump maintained its military presence in Africa despite rumors of a reduction in the number of military personnel.

It was the Democrats who were most actively opposed to troop reductions. Democrats have also traditionally advocated the expansion of various ‘aid’ packages to Africa. De facto, we are talking about bribing local elites and promoting influence through soft power mechanisms.

The appointment of Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who is a specialist in Africa and knows the region and its elites well, as the US representative to the UN, is telling. Most likely, one of her most important tasks will be to receive support from African countries at UN sites.

In this way, globalist American networks, regardless of the President, will continue their destructive policies.

Other objects of criticism

The Biden team has been particularly critical of the leadership in the Philippines and Venezuela. In the case of the latter, Biden does not support the real president, Nicolas Maduro, still maintaining his support for disgraced western-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido.

New American exceptionalism

In 2019, Jake Sullivan discussed the benefits of “liberal international order” in an article for The Atlantic, referring to the dark side of American exceptionalism. He argues that in the wrong hands (read Trump and his America first) American exceptionalism can be a dangerous idea.

What does Sullivan have to offer? A new concept of American exceptionalism with the destruction of Trump’s legacy and a reset of the old system.

“After Trump, the United States will face its next great readjustment. Part of the challenge will be to repair the damage he has done-to alliances, to treaties, to the perception of American motives, to trust in America’s word, and, most of all, to the very idea of America.

The core purpose of American foreign policy must be to protect and defend the American way of life”.

In Sullivan’s opinion, the US cannot be just a “normal” power, it needs to go beyond domestic politics and become a leader – a “good guy”.

“Exceptionalism is how you reconcile patriotism with internationalism”.

How exactly Sullivan understands leadership can be understood from his previous work experience. In his correspondence, he openly admitted that Al Qaeda is “on our side” in Syria.

As Andrew Bacevich, president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, pointed out to the BBC, the Biden team has faith in American superiority that can lead them to be reckless in using American military force.

Conclusions

Over the past four years, Trumpism (American patriotism, pragmatism, operating in accordance with business principles) has struggled against the neoliberal establishment (the so-called “swamp”), which has taken root at all levels of government, and against Deep State representatives who have sabotaged many of the president’s initiatives.

Some analysts say that the unpredictable Trump will be replaced by ‘pragmatists’, but this is not exactly the case. No, the new team is just the most ideological part of the establishment, not representative of the perspectives of Americans themselves, but rather the perspectives of international finance, and thus support dangerous global adventures, wars and protracted conflicts.

We are witnessing an attempt to return to a unipolar world under American hegemony. Instead of mutually beneficial cooperation in a multipolar world, there will be unilateral pressure on unwanted governments at the discretion of Washington and the global financial elite.

The only question is how long these adventures will be tolerated by the Americans themselves. The recent protests in the United States were not directly related to Trump, but to the collapse of an unfair social system within the country that is provoking the very problems of racism, poverty and inequality. Thus, Biden’s foreign policy adventures risk becoming a real revolution in a country where “democracy” has become little more than an empty word.

United World International

Independent analytical center where political scientists and experts in international relations from various countries exchange their opinions and views.

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