What will survive of US MidEast policy under Biden? | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 23, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:18 AM, January 23, 2021

What will survive of US MidEast policy under Biden?

Trump Heights, Trump Square, Trump train terminal: Israel isn't shy about honouring Donald Trump, who is widely admired among Israelis for his staunch support of their country. 

In four years, Trump overturned decades of US policy in the Middle East. Joe Biden will want to undo many of those changes during his presidency, but his freedom for manoeuvre will be limited.

Biden and his team have said they will restore ties with the Palestinians that were cut by Trump, resume aid and reject unilateral actions, such as construction of Israeli settlements on occupied territory.

At his Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Biden's choice for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said the US embassy in Israel would remain in Jerusalem, which Trump recognised as Israel's capital.

Four Trump-brokered diplomatic deals between Israel and Arab states are also likely to remain - they have bipartisan support in Washington.

So too is Trump's acceptance of Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria in a 1967 war and annexed in a move not recognised internationally.

Blinken also signalled that countering Iran would be central to Biden's Middle East agenda.

By imposing crippling sanctions, Trump was able to cripple Iranian economy to such extent that, to some critics, it will be impossible for Biden to reverse the actions.

And Blinken said the United States was "a long way" from rejoining the 2015 pact with Iran - restraining Tehran's nuclear programme - which the United States quit under Trump.

Reflecting the uncertainty over new US administration's Iran policy, newspapers in Arab states of the Gulf gave a cautious welcome to Biden.

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan voiced optimism that relations between Riyadh and Washington will be "excellent" under Biden. His comments comes despite Biden's pledge during his election campaign to treat the kingdom as a "pariah" over its human rights failings and to end US support to a Saudi-led military campaign in war-ravaged Yemen.

Despite Biden is expected to continue the path of his former boss president Barak Obama, his administration's actions in the coming months will set the course of US's Middle East policy.  

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