‘US election results won’t dictate major policy shift in region’

Filed on November 1, 2020 | Last updated on November 1, 2020 at 11.31 pm

Ahead of the elections that are set to begin on November 3, UAE-based experts and historians have said that the US policy in the region will not witness a sea change.

The US elections are closely watched in the Middle East because of the region's close ties with America and its involvement in the region's politics.

Ahead of the elections that are set to begin on November 3, UAE-based experts and historians have said that the US policy in the region will not witness a sea change - irrespective of whether Donald Trump returns to power or Joe Biden assumes charge as the next American president.

"This region has dealt with 14 American presidents over the past 70 years. And they know how to handle whoever occupies the White House," said Dr AbdulKhaleq Abdulla, Professor of Political Science. "It does not matter who wins in this election. Regional governments know they will get what they want in terms of security and stability in the region - especially on how to deal with the difficult neighbour in the north."

Arab-Israel peace process

Dr Abdulla said that no American president will reverse the peace process that Trump started. "The normalisation process (with Israel) is here to stay no matter who the president is. Biden will not tamper with it, but only deepen it. It has a logic of its own; a momentum of its own ... and it is a game changer. The peace deal is in the best interest of America as well," said Abdulla.

James Lockhart, Assistant Professor of History at Zayed University, Dubai, said the US-Iranian conflict "will likely continue into the foreseeable future".

"Since the turn of the 20th century, the region has had strategic importance for Washington and other industrialised nations, from Europe to Japan, as an energy supplier. This pattern transcends partisan politics in the US."

According to him, the difference will be found in "Democratic preferences for diplomacy versus Republican ones for military action".

Lockhart argued that the Biden administration will "probably be open" to continue the kind of dialogue with Tehran that the Obama administration explored, whereas Trump is likely to continue its hostility.

"Changes are happening in the region, but they are occurring in the Gulf, with the UAE and others establishing formal relations with Israel, which will, over time, possibly lead to a trend that could see a more peaceful region in the near future. This trend enjoys strong bipartisan support in the US. And so, in my view, we will not see any major changes in US-Middle Eastern relations in a possible second Trump term or a new Biden administration."

Fighting terror

Mohammed Baharoon, Director-General of the Dubai Public Policy Research Centre, said most of the strategic basis for the UAE's foreign policy is shared by the Oval Office. "The UAE has a partnership with the US and contributes to stability in the region as well as the collective effort in countering terrorism and violent radicalism. This is a major pillar of the relationship and a reason of its sustainability."

53% respondents favour Trump, regional poll says

On the contrary, Faisal Abdulla Saeed Al Naqbi, Director of Political Islamic Studies at Dubai-based TRENDS Research & Advisory, predicted a substantial change in Middle East policy if Joe Biden comes to power.

Quoting from a recent poll conducted by TRENDS, Al Naqbi said 64 per cent of respondents expected changes. "The expected change in Biden's policies can be interpreted from his frequent criticism of Trump's foreign policy, particularly regarding Iran and his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. Biden has supported the US' return to the deal and alleviating the sanctions imposed on Iran."

He said 53 per cent of around 500 respondents favoured Trump because of his Middle East policies that are considered "bold and realistic", and his efforts to find solutions to the various crises in the Middle East region. "On the other hand, Biden is not seen as presenting a new vision but seems to be pursuing the policies of the former president, Barak Obama, especially concerning the Middle East."

Whom do you favour: Trump or Biden?

Marie Nammour

With the US polls around the corner, expats in the UAE are anxious about who the next American President would be. They are divided over their choice. While some show satisfaction with the Republican candidate President Donald Trump, others want Joe Biden, the Democratic party candidate


Trump is not a bad choice. We have seen that all his decisions are crystal clear. He has shown interest in finding solutions to the Middle East issues, mainly to some pertaining to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The foreign policies of the US will remain the same no matter who is the President.

Hani Hammouda, Egyptian lawyer

I don't see any difference between the two candidates. However, since we have seen President Trump's policies, I would prefer him to stay for another term. I did not like what I heard about his contender's agenda, especially towards the Arabs. All the US decisions on Lebanon, taken during Trump tenure, including being indifferent to the overall situation there, were thanks to the stances of the Lebanese politicians.

Abir Chamas, Lebanese banker

I would prefer Trump. His decisions are clear. He has always stood his ground in his endeavours. He never backed down no matter how the pressure is from his opponents.

Rani Abou Ali, Lebanese real estate sales manager


Any presidential candidate would be better than Trump. I can't talk about Biden because I did not have a look at his agenda. But I definitely don't favour Trump for a new term. All his supporters inside his country are not partisans with moderate views. Trump was not fair, in my view, when tackling many issues. I would prefer that such a politician goes away from the political scene. A moderate player would be much favorable.

Walid El Sayed, Egyptian training manager

I am against Trump winning another presidential term. We have seen all the decisions he took and what he achieved. Even in America, many people did not approve of his policies. I want to see another President for the US. Hopefully, this will reflect positively on the Middle East vital matters and on the Arab region.

Sanad Zuhair Asiri, Jordanian PR manager

Iran tensions are the major boiling point in this region. With Biden in power, there will be some sort of reconciliatory efforts and return to the 2015 nuclear deal, but it will not be easy and a decision too late in the day. The Trump administration has already done enough damage and then to impose further sanctions this week is hitting more nails in the coffin.

Mahendrababu Anbalagan, Project coordinator



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