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When the US Elections become Local Elections
Donald Trump (left) and Joe Biden (Shealah Craighead/White House; David Lienemann/White House – Wikimedia Commons)

When the US Elections become Local Elections

Al-Nahar, Lebanon, October 9

The United States has entered the last stretch of an electoral journey, beginning its mail-in voting process ahead of the official election date of November 3, when incumbent President Donald Trump faces his biggest challenge to date. The coronavirus epidemic ravaging the US since the beginning of this year has caused great problems for Trump. The financial-economic crisis caused by the spread of the virus struck Trump’s momentum and allowed his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, to make remarkable progress, especially since Trump’s platform was based on remarkable outcomes during the first three years of his term. Still, his declining popularity doesn’t mean the elections will be devoid of surprises. All possibilities are on the table, and if history has taught us anything, it is that opinion polls don’t necessarily reflect the truth. Perhaps what’s more interesting about these elections is that they are followed not only in the US, but also in the Middle East. To the average person in the region, it seems as if people on our side of the world are monitoring the election outcome even more closely than the American people are themselves. Indeed, people throughout the Middle East, the Arab world, Iran, Turkey and Israel, are treating the election as a local election. The reason is pretty obvious. Despite China’s growing military power and Russia’s increased geostrategic involvement in world affairs under Vladimir Putin, the United States remains the world’s strongest economic, military and political power. Even in the Middle East, despite setbacks caused by Russia’s involvement in the Syrian civil war, the US remains the most influential power. Washington has proven time and again that when it makes a strategic choice in the region, it has the ability to turn the table around, regardless of where its opponents stand. President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq following the 9/11 attacks, for example, changed the face of the region for several decades. Similarly, the appeasing stance enacted by president Barack Obama toward Iran, culminating in the signing of the nuclear deal, opened the door to Tehran’s great expansion toward the Mediterranean coast and the Gulf. Therefore, people in the Middle East are closely tracking the presidential race and waiting to see its outcome. After all, the identity of the next American president may very well determine their own fate. Perhaps the only country in the region able to separate its own fate from the fate of the election is Israel, which exerts tremendous power over White House officials through its pro-Israel lobby in Washington. Israel has managed to overcome the policy shifts enacted by successive American administrations. As for the rest of the countries in the region, including Turkey and Iran, they have to closely monitor the polls and assess their next moves based on their assumption of who will win. – Ali Hamada (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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