Testing time ahead for the Middle East policy of the United States

With less than two months left before the end of Donald Trump’s presidency in the United States, President-elect Joe Biden is looking at fresh tensions in the Middle East that are broiling.

According to analysts, in recent weeks, the Trump administration has paid tremendous attention to the Middle East, while racing to seal diplomatic last-minute agreements with key countries in the region. The US-brokered Abraham Accord to normalise relations in the region between Israel and the UAE has emerged as the Trump administration’s primary achievement. On the other hand, as part of its campaign against Iran, the US has stepped up efforts to enforce more sanctions on Iran.

As Joe Biden will be inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States in January 2021, the policies of the Trump administration against Iran risk the emergence of new conflicts or new wars in the global order.

Amid these trends, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran’s top nuclear scientist, was assassinated near Tehran last week. Subsequently, Iranian President Hassan Rohani and other officials of the government accused Israel of an unprecedented assault. That attack came months after the assassination of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani and paramilitary leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis by the Trump administration in January 2020.

Significantly, the assassination of an Iranian scientist has undermined Biden’s attempts to revive the US nuclear agreement with Iran. Biden vowed to rejoin the 2015 Iran nuclear deal negotiated by six world powers, known as the P5 + 1 (China, US, UK, Russia, France + Germany), during his election campaign. US President Trump pulled Washington out of the deal in 2018.

Iran has vowed to retaliate for the murder of its famous nuclear scientist. It would give Donald Trump an excuse to launch a counter-strike against Iran before leaving office in January 2021, if Tehran retaliates. Subsequently, in the area, Biden will have to tackle wider complications than just the havoc wrecked in the past four years by the Trump administration. Meanwhile, as President-elect Biden lifts sanctions on Tehran, Iran looks forward to fully enforcing its 2015 nuclear agreement (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action).

According to media sources, in an effort to pressure Riyadh to join the Abraham Accords along with the UAE, Bahrain and Jordan, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week flew to the Saudi city of Neom to meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. It seems, however, that in an effort to examine new US-Saudi relations, the Saudis are waiting for the Biden administration to step in before signing the agreement to normalise ties with Israel.

Israel and Saudi are likely to pressure the US president to enforce further sanctions on Iran before Trump leaves the White House, which will exacerbate concerns for Biden. Significantly, the Trump administration’s final few weeks could make or break the foreign policy and diplomacy of the US in the region.

At the same time, outgoing US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, along with a few European countries, also visited Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the UAE, Israel and Qatar this month in the sense of the U.S.-brokered Abraham Accord.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store