The new Joe Biden Government in the US has made several U-turns on US policy in Middle East. Is it due to Trump Hatred or is it Policy Confusion?
A day after the world woke up to the news of an Iranian Ship attacked in the Red Sea, America under new President Joe Biden made reversal to several Trump era policy decisions which were a part of actions taken by the erstwhile Government to sort out the Middle East issue for good, undermining American position in the Middle East –
- Straining Relations with Saudi Arabia
- Resumption of talks with Iran for Nuclear Deal
- Revoked the designation of Yemen’s Houthis as a terrorist group
- Sending Aid to Palestine
All the above were Trump era decisions which were reversed by Biden Administration. Now, link this with America’s targetting of Saudi Crown Prince and throwing spanners in Saudi war effort in Yemen against the Iran backed Houthis.
First Policy Reversal – Straining Relations with Saudi Arabia
During the 2020 campaign, Joe Biden had harsh words for Saudi Arabia, one of the United States’ key partners in the Middle East who his predecessor Donald Trump warmly embraced. Trump not only praised Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, often referred to as MBS.
Joe Biden administration’s decision last month to release a two-year-old redacted report from the director of national intelligence (DNI) naming MBS as the main culprit in Khashoggi’s murder was a policy reversal and the first step towards straining relations with Saudi Arabia.
Biden also slashed U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen while still supporting Turkey and Iran to continue to supply arms and ammunition to Houthi Terrorists. Saudi Arabia is now trying to diversify its arms purchases from other countries. Saudi stopping to buy US arms itself will cause a loss of Billions of dollars to US and loss of Jobs to US nationals.
Our NewsComWorld team got in touch with Michael Johns, former White House speechwriter to President George H.W. Bush and U.S. Tea Party movement co-founder and leader on his views regarding Biden’s policy reversal on Iran and undoing what President Trump achieved. According to Michael Johns, “Our strategic relationship with Saudi Arabia has traditionally proven a very important one both strategically and in respects to trade. Former President Trump immediately recognized the importance of this relationship and placed focus on it–and he did so in a practical and realistic way. He prioritized Saudi cooperation on regional security matters and in counterterrorism measures. Trump’s decision in 2017 to make Saudi Arabia his first foreign visit also sent a very vital message that we saw both opportunity and urgency in building a strong bilateral relationship following eight years of Obama and Biden isolating and neglecting Saudi Arabia and never really addressing legitimate Saudi concerns about Iran-backed terrorism and nuclear weapons developments, which are a very real and present danger. Human rights issues in Saudi Arabia remain a concern, but there have been improvements in some respects, including expanded women’s rights. Now, after four years of realigning this important relationship between Washington and Riyadh, we see many of the same foreign policy players back in the Biden administration, and they do not hold the same value of Saudi Arabia that Trump did. That’s a real concern in many respects.”
Second Policy Reversal – Resumption of talks with Iran for Nuclear Deal
The U.S. and Iran will not hold direct talks, but both countries sent diplomats to Vienna for negotiations that began Tuesday 6-April 2021 and could last through the week. The talks are being facilitated by a top European Union official and other parties to the 2015 agreement, including France, China and Russia.
Under the Obama-era deal, Iran agreed to cap its nuclear enrichment, among other steps, in exchange for international sanctions relief.
Former President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2018 and re-imposed crippling sanctions on Iran, arguing his “maximum pressure” campaign would force Iran to negotiate a broader agreement. But Iran rebuffed Trump’s entreaties and, amid a spike in U.S.-Iran tensions, Tehran began breaching the deal’s limits on its nuclear enrichment.
Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds force and mastermind of its regional security strategy, was killed in an airstrike Friday 3-January 2020 near the Iraqi capital’s international airport.
Iran’s top diplomat, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, said in a tweet on Friday 2-April 2021, the goal of Tuesday’s talks was to “Rapidly finalize sanction-lifting & nuclear measures for choreographed removal of all sanctions, followed by Iran ceasing remedial measures.”
“No Iran-US meeting. Unnecessary,” Zarif added.
Tuesday’s meeting comes as the Biden administration faces conflicting political pressures at home over its dealings with Iran.
Progressives are demanding a speedy U.S. return to the deal, arguing that any further delay is dangerous.
But Republicans and some sane Democrats want Biden to hold out for a broader deal that not only curbs Iran’s nuclear program but also limits its ballistic missile program, its support for terrorist groups, and other malign activities.
A bipartisan group of more than 40 senators – including the top Democrat and top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – recently sent a letter to Biden urging him to address concerns “beyond Tehran’s nuclear program” and to consult with Israel and other U.S. allies as it negotiates with Iran.
“Iran continues to pose a threat to U.S. and international security through exporting arms, including highly accurate missiles, supporting Shia militias that target U.S. service members, and supporting terrorist organizations and other malign actors throughout the region,” Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., the committee’s chairman, wrote in the letter signed by a raft of other lawmakers.
“We also remain concerned about Iran’s continued human rights abuses of its own citizens and the increasing size and capabilities of its ballistic and cruise missile programs,” the letter reads.
A tweet from Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif yesterday 9-April 2021, blamed the US, and urged Washington to return to “full compliance first.” He said “anti-JCPOA” sanctions implemented under former President Donald Trump must be removed.
On Biden’s Policy reversal of Trump era policies, our NewsComWorld team asked Michael Johns. He said, “The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) really has included action from only our side. We released $1.7 billion to them and they received billions more from the relief of various sanctions. The Islamic regime in Iran, of course, is the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism. They bankroll Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, militia groups in Iraq that have been responsible for killing Americans, and they have been behind terrorism in Africa, Europe, and Latin America. They also have one of the most abusive and repressive human rights environments in the entire world, and routinely jail and execute perceived political opponents. Logic dictates that when you hand a regime engaged in these malicious acts billions of dollars, they are going to have more resources to do more harm. And that’s exactly what we’ve witnessed since the signing of the JCPOA in 2015. Additionally, they continued their nuclear weapons development program. In getting the United States out of the agreement, former President Trump helped greatly by denying ongoing resources to the regime. But the three primary concerns still exist: They are developing a nuclear weapons capability and are near to its completion. They remain the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism. And they are repressing the people of Iran in what is an undeniable human rights crisis. Reentering the agreement now would make even less sense that entering it the first time. We would again release financial resources to the regime, and the agreement itself is set to expire in 2030, which is now only a few years away. The agreement is not really enforceable since it denies us reasonable inspection rights. Even if the regime did abide by it, nothing precludes them to continue their engagement in terrorism or ballistic missile development or to respect civil and human rights at home. It would enrich a tyranny that remains vehemently malicious and committed to the destruction of the United States, moderate Arab governments, and Israel. Trump had Iran policy right. Biden and his team are either blind or ambivalent about the danger this regime represents. It cannot be trusted, and it shows no signs of changing its ways whether we are in our out of the agreement. So being out of the agreement and keeping maximum pressure on the regime is far and away the best policy option.”
Third Policy Reversal – Biden Administration revoked the designation of Yemen’s Houthis as a terrorist Group
The Biden Administration has completely reversed the former administration’s firm policy on the Houthis in the Yemeni civil war.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo designated Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels, also known as Ansarallah, as a “foreign terrorist organization” in January 2021. The move was intended to hold the terror group accountable, as Pompeo clarified:
“These designations will provide additional tools to confront terrorist activity and terrorism by Ansarallah, a deadly Iran-backed militia group in the Gulf region. The designations are intended to hold Ansarallah accountable for its terrorist acts, including cross-border attacks threatening civilian populations, infrastructure, and commercial shipping.”
But after less than a week in office, the Biden administration began reviewing the designation and revoked the designation of Yemen’s Houthis as a terrorist group.
Why would the Biden Administration remove a militia group, which commits crimes against humanity, recruits, injures and kills children, from the terrorist designation? According to Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2020:
“Since September 2014, all parties to the conflict have used child soldiers under 18, including some under the age of 15, according to a 2019 UN Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen report in 2019. According to the secretary general, out of 3,034 children recruited throughout the war in Yemen, 1,940—64 percent—were recruited by the Houthis.”
The Houthis are also using landmines that control and kill civilians in Yemen. According to Human Rights Watch:
“Houthi-planted landmines across Yemen continue to harm civilians and their livelihoods. Houthi forces have been using antipersonnel mines, improvised explosive devices (IED), and anti-vehicle mines along the western coast of Yemen, resulting in hundreds of civilian deaths and injuries. The landmines have also impeded aid workers’ abilities to reach vulnerable communities. Landmine use has been documented in six governorates in Yemen since 2015. Since January 2018, at least 140 civilians, including 19 children, have been killed by landmines in just the Hodeidah and Taizz governorates.”
The Houthi militia group also routinely resorts to various methods of torture. Human Rights Watch points out:
“Former detainees described Houthi officers beating them with iron rods and rifles and being hung from walls with their arms shackled behind them. Mothers, sisters, and daughters of abducted men have demonstrated in front of prisons across major Yemeni cities, searching for their kidnapped sons, fathers, brothers, and other male relatives, organized under a group named ‘Mothers of Abductees Association.’ The Association reported that there are 3,478 disappearance cases, at least 128 of those kidnapped have been killed.”
By removing the Houthis from the terrorist list and cutting off US support to confront the militia group, the Biden Administration has emboldened and empowered the Houthis and given them a free pass.
That is most likely why the Houthi terror group has ratcheted up its missile attacks. More than 40 drones and missiles were reportedly launched by the Houthis at Saudi Arabia in the month of February alone. Even Western officials have acknowledged the escalation. A senior U.S. Defense official told NBC News on a condition of anonymity:
“We’re certainly aware of a troubling increase in Houthi cross-border attacks from a variety of systems, including cruise missiles, ballistic missiles and UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles)”.
France, Germany, Italy and Britain also condemned the Houthi offensive and characterized it as a “major escalation of attacks the Houthis have conducted and claimed against Saudi Arabia.”
The sophisticated drones and missiles that the Houthi militia group is using most likely came from the Iranian regime, which has recognized the terror group as the official government of Yemen. Based on a U.N. report released in January 2021, there is strong evidence showing that the Islamic Republic of Iran is a provider of weapons to the Houthis. The U.N. panel of experts report said:
“An increasing body of evidence suggests that individuals or entities in the IslamIran mostly relies on the sea route to smuggle weapons to the Houthis, as several of Iran’s weapons shipments, which were heading to war-torn Yemen, had been previously seized.
In spite of the mounting evidence of crimes committed by the Houthis, the Biden Administration decided to hand an undeserved political victory to Iran’s regime.ic Republic of Iran supply significant volumes of weapons and components to the Houthis”.
This has lead to the International Community questioning United States. When it is convenient for United States, they can support Terrorists in the name of Mujahideen as they did in Afghanistan to push Russians out of Afghanistan, however the same Islamist Radical Terrorists brought 9/11 in the heart of United States. So this arbitrary decision of designating an armed group as a Terrorist organization by US administration backed by the intellegence of different US agencies and then a big U-Turn and the revoking of the designation of Yemen’s Houthis as a terrorist group within a few weeks.
Related Article Will Biden Change Pakistan’s Flagging Fortunes?
Fourth Policy Reversal – Sending Aid to Palestine
The United States said Wednesday it is restarting assistance to the Palestinians, announcing $235 million in new humanitarian, economic and development support, reversing a Trump-era decision to cut such funding.
The bulk of the money will go through the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees – United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) – which received $150 million. Another $10 million will be disbursed through USAID for peace-building programs; and $75 million will fund economic and development assistance in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Security assistance programs also will restart.
In 2018, as relations between the Trump administration and the Palestinian Authority leadership deteriorated over the administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. Embassy there, the administration cut more than $200 million in bilateral aid. That year, it also began to cut its support to UNRWA, ultimately withdrawing more than $300 million in support.
Gilad Erdan, Israel’s U.N. ambassador, opposed the Biden Administration’s decision.
“In conversations with the U.S. State Department, I have expressed my disappointment and objection to the decision to renew UNRWA’s funding without first ensuring that certain reforms, including stopping the incitement and removing anti-Semitic content from its educational curriculum, are carried out,” Erdan said in a statement.
Besides the above policy reversals, Biden Administration has undone the success achieved by President Trump in imposing sanctions against Chinese companies and cornering China. With Biden incharge, China got a new lease of life and has increased its espionage activities worldwide ferociously.
Points to Ponder
Is this is a sort of informal apology and penance America is doing for assassinating General Qassem Solemani in case of Iran? What message will it send when a country, that too considered the most powerful country in the world, decides a tactical military decision aimed at furthering its military edge is completely wrong and needs a course correction, that too when your enemy is a country which is not at all in a position to retaliate?
By removing Houthis from Terrorist List, what message US is sending to the world? Are the terrorists to be designated at the sweat will of the ruling party in power in United States? Any group that the ruling party in US supports are not terrorists and will designate them terrorists, if it suits the agenda of the ruling party?
Will US work with Erdogan and demolish Middle East Kingdoms and ultimately help Turkey in establishing the Neo-Ottoman Empire?
What would you call these U-turns on US policy in Middle East? Is it due to Trump Hatred or is it Policy Confusion?
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