After two previous unsuccessful bids for the presidency in 1988 and 2008, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. finally attained victory amidst record voter turnout. The close fight ended when Pennsylvania was called in favor of Biden and with him winning the popular vote by nearly five million votes against the current president Donald Trump, according to the CNN projections of the presidential results.
California Senator Kamala Harris, Biden’s running mate, will become the first woman, the first Black person and the first person of South Asian descent to become vice president, as reported by CNN.
But what does the Biden-Harris administration mean for Qatar and the Middle East?
H.H. the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani congratulated the US President-elect and Vice-President-Elect on October 7. In his tweet, he said that he is looking “forward to working together to continue strengthening the friendship between our countries."
2021 is set to be a significant year between the two countries because of the Qatar-USA Year of Culture 2021. Bilateral relations between Qatar and the USA will hopefully strengthen and improve in the coming years.
The Al Udeid Air Base will also likely remain the US’ largest military base in the Middle East.
Although initially siding against Qatar, the Trump administration stepped up in its effort to find a diplomatic solution to end the blockade in months leading to the elections. Unlike President Trump, Biden doesn’t have close personal relations with Saudi leaders as such he may put greater pressure on KSA to end the blockade against Qatar. (Al Jazeera; NY Times)
Biden has also mentioned his plan to re-enter the nuclear deal formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) “if Tehran returns to compliance with the deal.”
The historic deal was negotiated during his time as Vice President under the Obama administration and was undone by Trump.
However, speaking to CBS News, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif “insisted that ‘under no circumstances’ would Tehran consider renegotiating the terms of the deal which was adopted as a UN Security Council Resolution.”
Qatar has both close ties with the US and Iran and was trying to “bridge the gap” between the two. Qatar shares the world’s largest gas field with Iran and the latter was one of the countries that aided Qatar during the start of the illegal blockade.
Biden’s plan to restore American leadership abroad includes ending forever wars in the Middle East, according to his official campaign website.
In Afghanistan, Biden plans “to bring the vast majority of US troops home and narrowly focus the mission on Al-Qaeda and Isis.”
In addition, he will end US support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen and make sure the US “does not check its values at the door to sell arms or buy oil”. In his statement on the anniversary of Jamal Khashoggi's murder, Biden vowed to “defend the right of activists, political dissidents, and journalists around the world to speak their minds freely without fear of persecution and violence.”
Israel will continue to have support from the US under the Biden administration.
“As President, Joe Biden will continue to ensure that the Jewish State, the Jewish people, and Jewish values have the unbreakable support of the United States,” as stated on his official campaign website.
It’s also expected that he will urge more Arab states towards the normalization of Israel, a continuation of the UAE-Bahrain-Israel deal brokered by Trump recently.
The president-elect has already said that he will not move the US embassy back to Tel Aviv, however, “he would reopen the U.S. consulate in East Jerusalem for the Palestinian leadership, as well as the PLO’s mission in Washington,” as Time reported.
Will the Biden administration be a continuation of Obama’s or a completely new one? What do you think? Let us know in the comments!
Sources: CNN; Al Jazeera; New York Times; Tehran Times; joebiden.com; Time
Cover image: Editorial credit: VP Brothers / Shutterstock.com
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