Middle East analysts are reacting to the election victory of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, noting that President Donald Trump is leaving some diplomatic achievements that Biden will build upon, especially with respect to Arab-Israeli peace.
Analysts expect President-elect Joe Biden to take a tougher stand on human rights issues -- especially in the Persian Gulf region -- review arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and potentially push harder to end the war in Yemen.
Jordanian political analyst Amer Al Sabaileh said a major issue for the Middle East is the normalization process Washington started between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan. But he said Biden will do more to bring the Palestinians on board.
“I don’t think any president can now risk to lose the advantage of capitalizing this achievement. He will try to engage more the Palestinians, trying to reshape the so-called the ‘Deal of the Century’ at least in a convincing way, put it more diplomatically, on how to bring Israelis and the Palestinians together," he said.
Normalization has been predicated on concerns by Israel and Persian Gulf states over Iran’s growing militarism in the region. Professor David Romano of Missouri State University also told the Arab News newspaper in Saudi Arabia that “Iran is the key issue in understanding much of the Arab world’s bad aftertaste of the Obama administration.”
Gulf Arab states resented being excluded from deliberations over the 2015 nuclear deal to contain their aggressive neighbor, Iran. Trump withdrew from the multilateral accord in 2018 and imposed stringent sanctions on Tehran.
“So, the Gulf and Israel get together because they have one main and common enemy, which is Iran. Biden might, but not necessarily immediately, think of how to make use of the current situation in Iran to gain more of the diplomatic heritage of the nuclear deal,” said the analyst.
Ariane Tabatabai, a Middle East fellow at the German Marshall Fund told Dubai’s The National newspaper that Biden “would seek to rebuild international consensus on Iran and work with U.S. allies.” However, she said, Iran may not be willing to address its behavior in the region as part of any nuclear deal.
Other analysts see Saudi Arabia having held back from joining other Gulf Arab states in recognizing Israel, thus providing some leverage with the new Biden administration.