Analysis: Biden’s Mideast policy – will he avoid past mistakes?

Biden’s policy has been impacted by the growing clout of Progressive Democrats who advocate a Third World-oriented policy, while ignoring and oversimplifying the 14-century-old unpredictable, violent, despotic and non-peaceful intra-Arab and intra-Muslim reality. 

By Amb. (ret.) Yoram Ettinger

The Middle East is situated between Europe, Asia and Africa, and between the Mediterranean, Red Sea, Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf.

President Joe Biden wishes to disengage from the Middle East, but the Middle East does not intend to disengage from the U.S.

The U.S. is perceived by rogue Middle East entities as “The Great Satan” and the mega-obstacle on their way to achieve their mega-goal: bringing the West to submission, militarily, culturally and religiously. This mega-goal has been deeply-rooted since the 7th century, independent of US policies.

Isolation is not a realistic option in the increasingly globalized village, where rogue Middle East regimes are engaged in the proliferation of terrorism, non-conventional military technologies and drug trafficking around the globe. Their reach extends all the way to the American continent, impacting the U.S. homeland security.

Will the U.S. lead – or follow – the engagement process?  Will the engagement with rogue Middle East entities be conducted mostly around the U.S. – or the Middle East – “end zone”?

The Biden Team’s Track Record

President Biden’s Middle East policy reflects the worldview of his top foreign policy and national security team, most notably Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, who has been President Biden’s most influential advisor since 2002-2008 (similar to Secretary Baker’s influence on President Bush), when Blinken was the Democratic Staff Director on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Other leading members of the team are Jake Sullivan, the National Security Advisor; William Burns, the CIA Director; and Avril Haines, the Director of National Intelligence. They – like Blinken – played a key role in shaping President Obama’s Middle East policy.

For instance, they were instrumental in carving the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran (JCPOA), which followed the U.S. embrace of Iran’s Ayatollahs (Shiite terrorism), while demoting the stature of the pro-U.S .Saudis, the UAE and Bahrain.  This has intensified the existential threat to these regimes, injuring the U.S.’s strategic reliability and driving its traditional Arab allies closer to China and Russia.

In 2009-2012, they supported the ascension to power of Egypt’s anti-Western Muslim Brotherhood (Sunni terrorism), while turning their backs on the pro-U.S. President Mubarak.

They coddled the Palestinians, pressured Israel, and promoted the establishment of a Palestinian state, disregarding the Palestinian track record, which has made the Palestinians the role model of intra-Arab subversion, terrorism and ingratitude.

In addition, the Biden team participated in the orchestration of the 2011 U.S.-led military offensive against Qadhafi, which aimed to topple Qadhafi for slaughtering his opponents and squashing human rights.

However, the demise (lynching) of Qadhafi transformed Libya into a regional and global platform of Islamic terrorism and ruthless violations of human rights, igniting a series of Libyan civil wars with Russian, Turkish, Egyptian, Emirati, Saudi, Qatari, French and Italian military involvement.

The current performance

The Biden team assumes that Islamic terrorism (e.g., Iran’s Ayatollahs, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, Hamas, PLO, Houthis) is driven by despair, which must be addressed and remedied, in order to terminate terrorism. They ignore the fact that Islamic terrorism has been driven – since the 7th century – not by despair, but by deeply-rooted, intolerant, fanatic and megalomaniacal anti-Western ideologies, irrespective of Western and Israeli policies.

Similarly, Palestinian hate-education and the Palestinian overall track record clarify that Palestinian terrorism has preceded Israel’s 1967 reunification of Jerusalem and return to Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). It has never been driven by the size – but the elimination – of the Jewish State.

The Biden team has attempted to base its Middle East policy on the noble values of human rights and democracy, which are inconsistent with the Arab Middle East. In fact, the choice facing the U.S. is not between pro-U.S. and anti-U.S. human rights-abiding Arab regimes, but between pro-U.S. and anti-US human rights-violating Arab regimes.

Secretary Blinken and National Security Advisor Sullivan have advocated shifting resources from military to diplomacy.  They have highlighted multilateralism over unilateral U.S. national security action, urging enhanced coordination with Europe (which prefers appeasement in the face of rogue regimes), the UN and international organizations (which are dominated by anti-U.S. non-democratic countries).

The pursuit of multilateralism and diplomacy has occasionally undermined the U.S. war on terrorism, as evidenced by the multilateral JCPOA (nuclear deal).  It provided Iran’s Ayatollahs with $150bn and removal of the sanctions, which generated an unprecedent tailwind to Iranian wars (in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Afghanistan), regional and global terrorism (from Thailand through Europe and Africa to South and Central America), domestic repression and development and the proliferation of ballistic missile technologies.

Furthermore, the resumption of the annual U.S. foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority is not preconditioned upon the termination of monthly allowances to families of terrorists, hate-education, incitement, and the idolizing of suicide-bombers.

Moreover, the restoration of the annual U.S. foreign aid to UNRWA does not require an end to the funding of Palestinian hate-education, nor does it require shifting gears from perpetuating – to resolving – the status of Palestinian refugees, as is practiced by the UN High Commissioner on Refugees.

Biden’s policy on Iran

President Biden’s determination to reembrace Iran’s Ayatollahs and rejoin the JCPOA has been demonstrated by the appointment of Rob Malley to be the Special Envoy for Iran. Malley was the key behind-the-scene negotiator of the 2015 JCPOA, a personal friend of Secretary Blinken, with open channels to Iran’s Ayatollahs, Hezbollah, Hamas and PLO terrorists.

Secretary Blinken, Malley and their colleagues have downplayed Iran’s present and past track record.  They are preoccupied with assessments about Iran’s future track record. They have whitewashed Iran’s military involvement in Yemen’s civil war on the side of Houthi Shiite terrorists, and Iran’s aim to topple the Saudi regime and control the critical straits of Bab-el-Mandeb, which is vital to global trade and regional and global military balance.

While the U.S. intensifies pressure on Saudi Arabia to withdraw from Yemen, it delisted the Houthis from the list of terrorist organizations, which triggered an intensified Iranian/Houthi bombing of Saudi cities and oil facilities.

The Biden team assumes that a dramatic financial/diplomatic bonanza would incentivize Iran’s Ayatollahs to abandon their fanatic vision, which has guided them – including their education system – since the 1978/79 revolution.

The Biden team expects such a bonanza to alter the nature of the Ayatollahs, convincing them to accept peaceful-coexistence and power-sharing with their Sunni Arab neighbors. Moreover, the Biden team waived the regime-change option, which has crippled the bargaining position of the U.S., violating a fundamental rule of negotiation with rogue entities: Bury the hatchet, but leave the handle sticking out.

The progressive effect

President Biden’s Middle East policy has also been impacted by the growing clout of Progressive Democrats, who are determined to shift resources from national security and foreign policy to the domestic arena.  They advocate a Third World-oriented policy, while ignoring and oversimplifying the 14-century-old unpredictable, violent, despotic and non-peaceful intra-Arab and intra-Muslim reality.

Thus, they criticize pro-Western entities such as Israel, ignoring Israel’s historic and moral track record and Israel’s contribution to the U.S. economy and defense, which outweigh foreign aid.

At the same time, they embrace anti-Western rogue entities such as Iran’s Ayatollahs, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, irrespective of their fanatic and despotic core ideology and intra-Muslim/intra-Arab terroristic track record.

Moreover, the “progressives” have misperceived the tectonic eruptions on the Arab Street as if it reflected an “Arab Spring,” a pursuit of self-determination, human rights, national liberation and democracy. In fact, it has been an Arab Tsunami; an extension of the intrinsic Middle East violence, hate-education, terrorism, repression and demonic visions.

In conclusion:

Will President Biden repeat – or avoid – past critical mistakes? Will President Biden yield to – or defy – the Progressive pressure? Will President Biden disengage from the non-disengaging Middle East?