In a November 10, 2020 article in the English-language website of the Al-Arabiya network, 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, the network's former director and former editor-in-chief of the daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, expresses cautious optimism regarding Joe Biden's electoral win and its implications for the Gulf countries. Al-Rashed assesses that Biden will oppose Iran's expansion and its constant threat to the U.S. allies in the region. The American president-elect, he says, has acknowledged that the nuclear deal with Iran has two major flaws: first, that it does not include Iran's ballistic missile program, and second, that it does nothing to curb Iran's quest for influence and control of areas such as Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, the Gulf, Yemen and Afghanistan. Al-Rashed predicts that Biden will not renew the deal without fixing these flaws, and adds that an amended deal will be better for the region than no deal at all, since Iran is a formidable enemy and peace with it is preferable to confrontation.
Al-Rashed states further that some major developments of Trump's era will persist during the Biden administration, namely, the alliance between the four countries of the Arab Quartet (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain), as well as the alliance between the Gulf states and Israel in the face of Iran. Qatar, Turkey and Iran will no doubt try to dismantle these alliances, he says, but they will not succeed.
'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed (Source: MBC.news)
The following is his article:
"Countering Iran's antagonism has marked the policy of the Gulf states for nearly four decades, and remains the key factor for consideration when setting policies and forming alliances. The preemptive step taken by the UAE and Bahrain, through establishing full relations with Israel, paved the way for dealing with upcoming changes, including the new U.S. presidency.
"There are certain Gulf-Israeli cross-cutting issues while other areas remain controversial. The common enemy of the Gulf and Israel today is the Tehran regime, which explicitly threatens the security and existence of both Israel and the Gulf countries and has built its military plan on this basis. A Joe Biden presidency will oppose Iran's expansion on the ground and its constant threat to US allies in the region.
"Biden pinpointed the two mistakes made by former President Barack Obama's team when they negotiated with Iran and signed the nuclear deal. The first is that Iran's nuclear obligations under the agreement do not prevent it from building a ballistic system, which is a serious flaw. There are now only five years left in the period of time in which Iran is not allowed to enrich uranium. A short stint for a regime that is patient and unwavering in its resolve to build and own nuclear weapons.
"The second is that the deal did nothing to put the brakes on Iran's threat to the region with its conventional weapons and its quest for influence and control of areas such as Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, the Gulf, Yemen, Afghanistan, and others.
"I cannot imagine peace with Iran without amending the deal, and Biden has reiterated this position on many occasions, directing his words to the Iranians who were paying close attention to his statements during the election campaign. He clearly stated that he would not revive the nuclear deal without amending it, explicitly stipulating the security of his allies as a condition.
"For the Gulf states, Biden's policy, if implemented, would certainly be better than Trump's. Iran is an imposing neighbor, and coexisting with it within the framework of a peace agreement with a strong backer is better for the Gulf than confrontation, which would impact the stability of the entire region, as well as affecting its economy and prosperity. Tehran has proven itself to be untrustworthy, even towards the Americans who assumed Iran's goodwill, only to have 10 US Navy sailors captured by Iranian forces late in the Obama era. This despite the fact he’s the only US president to give Iran such an unprecedented opportunity since the souring of relations by the Iran hostage crisis in 1980. What Iran did in Baghdad also threatened US interests, which considers Iraq a keystone in its strategy in the region. Two new realities created in the Trump era will continue during the Biden administration, the first of which is the political bloc of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Emirates and Bahrain, which represents an economic, human and of course political alliance.
"The second is the UAE's agreement with Israel in the face of Iran. Qatar will once more try to dismantle this coalition, and it will not succeed. Iran and Turkey, despite their attempts to work together against the Quartet (Saudi, Egypt, UAE and Bahrain), are facing difficulties due to competition and differing expectations between Tehran and Ankara, in addition to the economic hardships they are undergoing.
"The dynamic of conflict today between the poles of Riyadh, Tehran and Ankara may recede with the arrival of Biden to the US presidency, if he succeeds in getting a grip on Turkey's problematic ambitions that threaten the countries of the region and Europe.
"Ankara tried and failed to impose a new reality in the eastern Mediterranean and Libya preceding the American elections. Tehran will also seek to calm tensions with Washington and its allies in preparation for ending harsh sanctions against it, or otherwise run the risk of internal collapse.
"Given all this, I feel cautiously optimistic about Biden's win, without underestimating the challenges his administration may raise in the future, which I will cover in an upcoming article."