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Bye Trump, Hello Biden

Bye Trump, Hello Biden

Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London, January 21

When Henry III of England died while his son Edward was fighting on the battlefront, the Royal Council decided to install him immediately, declaring: “The throne will not remain vacant, and the country will not exist without a king.” A similar situation happened in France, when the son of Charles VI was declared king immediately following his father’s death. This led to the famous proclamation: “The king is dead, long live the king!” Joe Biden is the president, the United States is the empire, and the vacuum of power is the most significant threat to the existence of America. This is why the presidential arrangements do not allow for any ambiguity about who is in power. The president-elect takes the 35-word oath before the chief justice of the Supreme Court, after the president whose term has expired leaves. According to the American political system, Biden’s inauguration was certain, despite the fact that a large portion of the American public disputed his win. This is because the nation’s highest legislative authority, Congress, and the highest judicial authority, the Supreme Court, rejected Trump’s case. Trump himself failed to convince his supporters, his cabinet members and his party leaders. His attorney general, who protested and resigned, accused Trump of spreading nonsensical accusations. Like other members of Trump’s cabinet, he refused to accept the story that the elections were rigged and the presidency was stolen. But Trump’s departure from the White House will not erase the great impact his policies had at home and abroad. Confronting China, for example – which is the most important issue for the United States – will remain a top priority even for the Biden administration.  What will be the new administration’s policy? It’s still too early to tell. Many in the Middle East fear that Biden will simply continue former President Barack Obama’s policies. Indeed, a large number of faces announced as candidates for leading posts in the Biden administration have already worked for Obama. Obama’s policy in the Middle East, especially the one designed to deal with Iran, has been a failure. Then Trump came and besieged Iran, destroying its political and economic capabilities. Consequently, returning to the same point as when Obama left office is almost impossible, even if Biden were interested in doing so. Furthermore, the geopolitical conditions have changed: the Russians entered the conflict in Syria, the Iranians expanded their reach into Iraq, and Israel normalized its ties with several Gulf states. The statements that came from President Biden and his team on the campaign trail certainly gave Middle East leaders a reason for concern. But over the past few days, these messages have changed. For example, the nominated secretary of defense, Gen. Lloyd Austin, praised the assassination of Qasem Soleimani. Similarly, the nominated secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, blamed the Houthis for the situation in Yemen and assured Congress during his confirmation hearing that the new administration would consult Israel and the Gulf states on any future agreement with Iran. All of these are positive developments that the tides are turning even in the new White House. –Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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