Biden's Middle East Policy: What Could be Changed?

 


It seems that US President Joe Biden is going to start implementing his Middle East policy. Joe Biden took two major steps in his Middle East policy last week. 

The first is that he informed the Congress of his intention to remove the Houthis (Ansarullah) fighting in Yemen from the official list of terrorist organizations outside the country. 

Second, he said the United States would stop supporting the Saudi-led operation in Yemen and review American relations with the country in light of Saudi human rights records. 

At first glance, these two tasks may seem insignificant. Taken together, the two steps are indicative of a fundamental shift in US policy toward the Middle East.

 The question, of course, is how and to what extent this change will affect the reality of the region.

The Houthis are a major player in Yemen's protracted civil war. They ally with Iran against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. 

The war in Yemen has largely turned from a civil war to a proxy war in another country. Both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been carrying out airstrikes in the fight against the Houthis and supporting their opponents.

 Iran, on the other hand, has been supplying missiles to Saudi Arabia to launch Houthi (apparently Iranian proxy forces).

Yemen is a country with a strategic position in the Middle East. It could use force in Saudi Arabia and Oman, or give more powerful allies a chance to do so. 

More importantly, an imaginary force from Yemen's position could stop the piracy of Bab al-Mandab and shut down the Red Sea. 

Incidentally, access to the Red Sea is especially important for this region. At the start of the six-day war with Israel in 1967, Egypt blocked the Strait of Tiran and prevented Israel from entering the Red Sea.

Yemen itself is not in a position to stop this process, but it could be an outside party trying to sow regional chaos. 

And if it does, it could lead Egypt, Israel and Ethiopia to a conflict they may not want. And it could weaken the Arab position in the Persian Gulf by threatening Saudi Arabia and Oman.

Iran does not need Yemen for itself. But in the short term, Yemen is a base from which Iran can apparently put pressure on its main rival, Saudi Arabia as well as the United Arab Emirates.

 If the Houthis can win the civil war in support of Iran, they will be able to destabilize the region.

 And in a very short time, changing the balance of power in the region could force some Sunni Arab powers to coordinate with Iran.

Israel wants to do the same with Saudi Arabia that it has done with the United Arab Emirates and a few other Arab countries.

 As the Iranian threat grows, there is a perception that the Saudis will be forced to move towards engagement with Israel even if they do not sign the agreement for internal reasons. 

Many Sunni Arab states see Iran as a deadly threat, and they see it not only as a test ground with Iran, but also as a direct attack on key interests from Syria and Iraq to Yemen. 

The Sunni Arab countries' fear of Iran is not primarily about nuclear weapons, but about the fact that Iran's intrusion and success in places like Syria and Yemen will turn these countries, as well as other countries, into Iran's sphere of influence. And what Iran really wants is an influential position in the Middle East.

The Trump administration's position was to consider Iran's nuclear weapons as part of a broader threat.

 In other words, with or without nuclear weapons, Iranian covert activities are thought to give the country an influential position in the region.

 To prevent this, sanctions were designed to cripple Iran internally. And Trump-Kushner's Abraham deal was an attempt to form an alliance with Israel without relying on direct US intervention to stop the Iranian campaign.

The decision to remove Houthi from the terrorist list and review the Saudi human rights record is particularly significant in this regard. 

This is to indicate that the Biden administration is moving towards a new policy or is planning to do so. The United States has promised to restore the nuclear deal with Iran.

 However, the situation in which it was signed in the Middle East was quite different from what it is now. In today's Middle East, the solution to the Iranian problem seems to be becoming a bit more local. 

Apart from Iran, there are three other powerful states in the Persian Gulf region from the Mediterranean. The three countries are Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

It provides some clues as to what kind of relationship the Biden administration will maintain with Israel.

 It no longer seems that Trump has changed the fundamentals of American foreign policy. He has done his best to implement the long-term foreign policy of the United States.

 In the process, however, he created his own style by forming an alliance with Netanyahu, bin Salman, bin Zayed son-in-law and his son-in-law Jared Kushner. 

The Biden administration may or may not want that cycle. Biden may not want Netanyahu in power in next month's fourth general election in Israel.

A coalition government could come to power in Israel through this election. On the other hand, there are indications that the Biden administration will not give much importance to bin Zayed, even if Israel continues to negotiate with him. 

And the fact that they have considered Saudi Arabia's human rights issues seriously and has stopped supporting the war in Yemen.

 It makes clear that the Biden administration probably does not want Mohammed bin Salman as the next king. 

Washington may want to bring its old allies back to the forefront.

Although Turkey is a NATO ally of the United States, Biden does not seem to want President Erdogan very much. 

In the United States, 54 senators from both parties have called for joint action against the Erdogan government's alleged violation of fundamental rights in Turkey.

 They say Turkey has opted for a regional show of strength. The Biden administration's somewhat hostile attitude towards Turkey is reflected in a number of incidents.

 During honeymoon period of his government, there have been terrorist attacks on Turkish positions in northern Syria and in Sunni-dominated Iraq. 

Turkey has blamed PKK-linked terrorists for the attack. Significantly, in both cases, Tehran spoke indirectly on behalf of those responsible for the attacks on the Turks.

The signals in the Biden administration's initial work are that Israel could begin talks on establishing a Palestinian state where the Palestinian Authority would be sidelined, implementation of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and the territories it has annexed to the West Bank. 

The role of the United States in these talks will be more flexible than it was during Trump's time. But in the fundamental case, it would probably not be a violation of Israel's interests.

In the early days of the Biden administration, many doubted that the United States and some of its allies could become active in regime change in Turkey.

 Earlier, the coup could not be carried out with the help of the United States' own tools and the Israeli-Saudi bloc.

In this case, if Saudi-Turkey creates a regional equation, it can be an effective force to protect their own security and to exert regional and global influence. Involvement with OIC's powerful country Pakistan, Indonesia, Azerbaijan, Malaysia and Nigeria could create a strong bloc of Islamic countries in global politics. 

 On the contrary, after this failed attempt in 2016, Ankara has moved towards maintaining a balanced relationship with Russia and China. 

The reality that Biden will succeed if he makes the same effort again probably it won't work. Because that situation doesn't exist in Turkey now. However, a kind of instability can be created in it. 

In this case, if Saudi-Turkey creates a regional equation, it can be an effective force to protect their own security and to exert regional and global influence. 

Involvement with OIC's powerful country Pakistan, Indonesia, Azerbaijan, Malaysia and Nigeria could create a strong bloc of Islamic countries in global politics. 

And either China or Russia or the United States will have to come to an agreement of mutual interest.

It is difficult to say whether the Biden administration wants to force Riyadh into an agreement with Iran-occupied Yemen or create a volatile Saudi Arabia.

 As a result, it is difficult to say whether the two recent statements by the Biden administration are mere gestures or more.

 There is, however, a possibility that Biden believes he wants Iran to have a somewhat balanced relationship with Sunni Arabs.

 Returning to the nuclear deal, which was originally written for it, could open the door to Iran's interests, but it would frighten the rest of the region. 

It is a region where memories date back centuries and where current anti-Iranian alliances are not based on attraction; Rather, it was based on cool calculations.

In Trump’s four years, Iran was in a box, the rest of the region is unprecedentedly lined up. If instability is created here, the situation could be worse than what the American administration has learned in Libya.

 The most important achievement of the United States is to avoid involvement in large-scale military conflicts in the Middle East. 

In its wake, many feel that Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and everyone else should be allowed to run it. 

The main thing is not to leave the ground. The danger is that all new administrations in the United States want to draw their footmark.

 The Biden administration remembers Libya and its commitment to human rights there. It has now been added to solve the problem there.

Biden's actions suggest that Iran will be given more opportunities to dominate the Middle East. 

The Obama administration began the process by signing nuclear agreements with six powerful nations. Trump did the opposite when he came to power. 

Biden may want to get it back on track. Negotiations between the two sides have gone too far unofficially. 

Iran's retaliation for the killing of an Iranian scientist by Israeli intelligence has been halted by a source close to the Biden administration.

 It is said that Biden's assumption of office could be disrupted if Trump is given the opportunity to provoke him in his last days

 The conditions imposed by Biden on activating the nuclear deal with Iran are not inflexible at all.

 The two countries appear to be working on a precondition for halting or lowering nuclear enrichment and lifting sanctions on Tehran.

There is no room for questioning the US commitment to protect Israel's security interests, regardless of party affiliation. Whether aggressively or flexibly, Israel's interests will not be compromised by Washington.
 
This means that Iran is creating an area of ​​cooperation between the United States and the Middle East.

The question is, where will the impact be? Its main targets could be Saudi Arabia and Turkey, two other powerful states in the region.

There is no room for questioning the US commitment to protect Israel's security interests, regardless of party affiliation. Whether aggressively or flexibly, Israel's interests will not be compromised by Washington.

 But the question is what kind of challenges Saudi Arabia and Turkey could face. The two main issues facing Saudi Arabia are maintaining the monarchy and integrity and maintaining its regional and global influence. 

The way Biden has shaped his administration since taking office has led many to speculate that he wants to set the stage for another democracy in the Middle East. Its target could be Saudi Arabia.

 Saudi Arabia has two options in front of it. One is to move forward in the hope that power and integrity can be maintained in alliance with Israel.

 Most citizens of the country and some in the Deep State consider it as like making the predator as the protector. 

If this is done, the ruling party will have to fight against a large part of the country's people, no matter how hard Israel tries to defend the monarchy.

 In the face of the combined hostility of the religious establishment, the Muslim Brotherhood, Turkey and Iran, Saudi rule can be difficult to sustain.

The second option in this situation would be to build a regional alliance and compromise that would help maintain Saudi power and integrity in itself.

 This is the way to reach an understanding with Turkey, another regional power. Turkey and its allies could play the most effective role in dealing with the Iranian threat to Saudi security.

 Some work on this compromise seems to have progressed. In this case, there must be an agreement between the two sides on Yemen and Syria. 

If Turkey and Pakistan are active in this regard, it may be possible to reach an agreement with Iran. Because if Turkey is involved there, it will not be possible for Iran to win. 

The biggest interests in Yemen are Saudi Arabia and Turkey in Iraq and Syria. If the two countries work together in these two areas, it is possible to end the war in Yemen and create a Lebanese-style power-sharing system. 

If Turkey and Pakistan are active in this regard, it may be possible to reach an agreement with Iran. Because if Turkey is involved there, it will not be possible for Iran to win. 

And the interests of the entire Muslim world will be protected by protecting the interests of the Ummah through compromise without going into conflict with each other.

 A kind of understanding has to be made with the United States in this regard. That is possible, and Riyadh-Ankara is expected to take the initiative, according to policymakers from both countries.

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