Biden or Trump, US wants a lesser Middle East role – Asia Times

Biden or Trump, US wants a lesser Middle East role - Asia Times

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the Middle East had been “quieter than it has been for years” prior to the October 7 Hamas strikes on Israel.

Evidently, this is no longer the case. In contrast, the region’s heart-wrenching condition has sparked generation-defining protests and heightened tensions around the world.

Due to the unrest, many people are now asking themselves if the Biden administration’s Middle Eastern policies will eventually destroy the president’s re-election campaign against previous president Donald Trump in November.

It finally perhaps. However, US policy toward the place will still be in place despite any changes made by the White House occupant. Because Biden and Trump will work together to achieve what Sullivan had hoped for: a Middle East that is unfortunately softer.

Republican help for alliance- building

No US initiative will be more crucial to ensuring a quiet Middle East than the strengthening of relationships between local partners. The Abraham Accords and the Arab-Israeli normalization agreements that the Trump presidency initiated and the Biden administration adopted now laid the groundwork.

A different coalition led by the US, France, the UK, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Israel joined forces to defuse 300 Egyptian missiles launched at Israel on April 13. The fruits of these efforts were made clear when a different alliance gathered to support such work. In their decades-long dark war, Tehran launched its first direct attack on Israel.

A degree of local cooperation and stability that will ultimately allow for a reduced US footprints was a long-term and republican US objective for the Middle East.

It is safe to assume that whoever occupies the White House next year will probably attempt to build on these provincial relationships, even though Trump may not have appreciated some of them as much as his predecessors did. There are a number of causes for this.

Iran’s behavior remain intact

Second, the range and intensity of Iran’s disruptive conduct in the region have just increased.

Iranian proxy extremist groups across Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Gaza have displayed extraordinary levels of aggression in recent years. Iran’s involvement in the Hamas assault on October 7 is disputed, but Tehran still continues to provide financial assistance for the organization.

Hamas and Iran are brothers in arms. Image: Online Screengrab

Iran’s unique behavior has never been any less aggressive. In addition to its extraordinary invasion on Israel in April, this has included:

Zionist- Muslim relationships persist

Second, Iran’s behavior definitely contributed to stronger relations between Israel and the Muslim world. Since the start of the conflict in Gaza, these relationships have persisted, though more subtly.

Jordan’s King Hussein, who rules over a largely Arab population, may be a vocal critic of Israel’s conduct in Gaza, but he yet benefits from record levels of Jewish gas and desalinised water going to his energy- weak and water- scarce country.

Egyptians experienced rolling blackouts when Israel recently cut oil exports at the start of the battle because the Iranian market is so dependent on Israeli energy.

The UAE and Israel have simply strengthened their military, social, and business ties since their new Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, which was signed last year.

Although Israel has been repeatedly demonized by the UAE for its actions in Gaza, bilateral trade increased by 7 % in the first quarter of 2024.

Out of the Middle East

Finally, and perhaps most significantly, both Republicans and Democrats agree on the need to change US attention and resources to the Indo- Pacific area. US colleagues in the Middle East do not want to overlook this.

The Abraham Accords and the US army withdrawal from Afghanistan were two of the Trump administration’s major political activities, and this is why the Trump administration both supported and continued them.

Left to right: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump, Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani, and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan storm from the Truman Balcony at the White House in Washington, DC, after the filing of the Abraham Accords, on September 15, 2020. Photo: Flyer

The reason is the historic, bipartisan attitude that the US does not invest further resources — or, even worse, lose more US lives — in the Middle East.

On Gaza, Trump has urged Israel to wrap up its operations, saying:

Israel has to be very careful, because you’re losing a lot of the world, you’re losing a lot of support.

The Biden administration’s public and private pleas for Israeli restraint in Gaza demonstrate that it has little interest in becoming further entangled in the Middle East.

If Israel and Hamas ‘ conflict continued in January 2025, both Trump and Biden would be in vexed no matter who wins in November. They would be equally concerned if Hamas carried out attacks on Israel. However, neither party desires to spend more than the bare minimum of political resources to resolve the situation.

American citizens and politicians would prefer that its allies in the Middle East take care of their own security in a time when the US is producing more of its own energy and US fears of terrorism are decreasing.

US still integral

The next president still has a significant role to play despite the US’s desire to leave the region.

The normalization of Saudi- Israeli relations, for example, is undoubtedly the most important goal of the Abraham Accords. Without a legally binding US security guarantee for Saudi Arabia, a Saudi-US civil nuclear agreement, or increased US support for a Palestinian state, this will prove challenging.

The US military presence in the area will continue to be a key component of the international coalition of nations ‘ efforts to combat Iran’s growing influence. After all, the US Central Command’s extensive coordination was what gave rise to Iran’s April 13 attack on Israel.

No US president has said or will say that in any specific way, but a future US role in the region might be best described as “leading from behind” or “leading from behind” in this context.

Instead, the winner of November’s election will publicly champion regional” stability”. And on this front, bolstering a regional coalition will remain the primary strategy – and could, ultimately, be the foundation for peace.

Jared Mondschein is Director of Research, US Studies Centre, University of Sydney

This essay is based on an excerpt from the US Studies Centre’s recent publication, Red Book | Blue Book: A guide to the next US administration. This article was republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.