In order to win the stakes in the election race, Democrats seek to employ President Trump’s failure to manage the Corona pandemic file, the deterioration of the economy and the resulting loss of hundreds of thousands of American people to their jobs, and the high percentage of aid seekers. On the other hand, the Republicans led by Trump are basing in ensuring their victory – from their point of view – on Biden’s weak electoral program and his weak ability to be a satisfactory alternative to the American voter
The candidates’ election campaigns did not raise US foreign policy issues as was previously the case, rather the focus was on the US economy and the other crises that accompanied it in light of the Coronavirus pandemic, but this does not mean that the international system, including the Arab region and its neighborhood, will not be affected by the election results, as It is expected that the results of these elections will change the course of international events taking place in that region, and will also affect the future of the United States’ standing and its leadership in the world.
The question remains: Which of the two candidates will win the presidency of the United States of America? How will each of them deal with foreign policy files, especially with regard to the issues of the Arab region and its neighborhood, especially those related to the Iranian nuclear file and the Palestinian conflict with the Israeli occupation, in addition to the Turkish-American bilateral relations and American support for allied regimes in the region?
US Election System
American elections are held every four years with a unique electoral system, whereby only two parties dominate the election system in the United States, the Republican Party (conservatives) and the Democratic Party (Liberals or Leftists). Also, this system is characterized by the fact that the American electorate does not elect the president directly, but rather the members of the “electoral college” who in turn choose the president of the United States of America.
The total number of votes in the electoral college is 538, and the number of electoral college delegates differs between states according to their population. For example, in California, the most populous state in the United States, it has 55 representatives, while North Carolina has only 3 representatives.
The electoral system for all states (except for two states) is based on the principle of “the winner gets everything,” meaning that the candidate who gets the majority of votes in a particular state gets the votes of all the state’s delegates completely, and in order for the presidential candidate to win the presidency, he must obtain Over 270 electoral votes or more.
Therefore, it is possible for the presidential candidate to win the elections by delegates’ votes without winning the national vote, which happened with Hillary Clinton in 2016; It surpassed Trump by about 3 million votes in the national vote, but lost 227 votes to Trump when voting in the electoral college.
The strengths and weaknesses of both candidates
The opinion polls conducted by several American research channels and centers are a good indication of the popularity of the presidential candidate in all American states, as these polls showed an advance in the popularity of Joe Biden at the expense of Donald Trump.
Surveys by the (Real Clear Politics) Center have shown an increase in Biden’s popularity in a number of states that Trump won by a slight margin in the 2016 elections, such as Florida and Michigan. These polls also showed Trump’s popularity declined in states that had a large share in the 2016 elections, such as Texas and Ohio.
A NBC News / Wall Street Journal poll after the first debate between Trump and Biden, which was held on September 29, which was described as the most anarchic in recent American history, showed Biden by a large margin, while he had 53% in favor of his speech. His rival got 39%.
Despite all these estimates of Biden’s victory, Trump still has certain advantages that may prompt American voters to nominate him. Biden did not show any electoral plan to solve the current problems in the United States, but only direct accusations to the Trump administration about the outbreak of the Corona epidemic, which caused the United States to reach huge rates of infection and death, as well as his criticism of dealing with the recent protests after the killing of the American citizen. Afro-descendant (Floyd), and other issues.
Also, Trump has a great ability to use an interactive (populist) discourse affecting the American citizen through a combination of national pride, the presence of conspiracies to fight the American model, and his assertion of victory and overcoming these threats. Quite the opposite of him, Biden is considered part of the traditional American political elite, who proposes solutions to fundamental issues based on abstract principles. This may not lead the American voter, who is looking for a policy that touches his reality, to elect him.
In addition, Trump also showed many economic achievements in reducing unemployment rates, especially among African-American citizens and Latinos, and had it not been for the economic repercussions of the Corona pandemic, the election debate would have been likely to be settled in Trump’s favor.
The implications of the election results on foreign policy towards the Arab region and its neighborhood
The victory of Biden or Trump means a lot to the disjointed and conflicting countries of the region, but some political elites in the region, especially the leaders of the Israeli occupation and the group of oil-rich Arab countries, see that the two candidates represent two very different paths for them.
Ironically, most of the competing countries in the region, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and the Emirates, with the exception of Iran, would prefer Donald Trump to win a second round of the presidency of the United States of America.
The Iranian issue is the only regional issue that showed sharp contradictions between the candidates’s programs, especially the US position on the 2015 multilateral Iranian nuclear deal. Other than that, the issues of the Arab region and its neighborhood were unevenly present in the programs of both candidates, and while the Palestinian issue maintained its presence. Their respective programs focused on domestic issues of the United States, especially economic and health issues.
Predicting the possibility of a radical change in policy towards Iran in the event that any of the candidates wins seems weak, but it is expected that the methodology and mechanisms of the candidates will vary, as the US policy continues to limit Iranian interference in the region and try to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions, by adopting a new package. From the sanctions imposed on Iran by Trump if he wins a second term. While Biden may adopt a more neutral policy, he may seek to renew the nuclear agreement or reach a stronger agreement that includes limiting Iran’s nuclear activities.
Iran is likely to be the only winner in the Arab region and its neighborhood if Biden wins the American elections, as most of the Iranian government, elites and people prefer Biden to power, because that could guarantee them the resumption of nuclear activities and the easing of sanctions imposed on them, according to the Washington Post. Oil analysts argue that if Biden replaces Trump, Iran will soon start exporting up to 2 million barrels of oil per day.
In addition, the security of the Israeli entity is one of the most important issues that were raised before the elections in order to obtain the support of the Jewish lobby influencing American politics, as well as the votes of the evangelicals. Trump has proven that he is the most biased and accomplished American president in this file, as the US government decided during his tenure to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May 2018, and recognized the Israeli entity’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights in March 2019, as well as overseeing agreements. Normalization between the entity and a number of Arab countries; Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.
Therefore, in the event that the Republicans win, it is expected that normalization agreements will increase between the Israeli occupation and a number of Arab and Islamic countries, and this may also lead to international recognition of the so-called “deal of the century.” In the event that Biden wins, he is expected to seek to restore balance to US relations with Palestine and the Israeli entity, including reopening the liaison office with the Palestinians in East Jerusalem, and resuming the aid program that the Trump administration suspended in 2019, but without retreating from unilateral decisions. Taken by the United States during the Trump administration.
In addition to the most important issues in the Arab region and its neighborhood, which have been largely dealt with by the candidates’ campaigns, it is possible to address the most prominent features of US foreign policy towards the issues of the Arab region and its neighborhood if any of the candidates wins in the 2020 elections:
United States foreign policy under Biden
During his election campaign Biden always sought to try to show a balance between supporting the Israeli entity and Palestine; Whereas, he has always stressed that the United States is committed to ensuring the safety of the Israeli entity and protecting its existence as a Jewish state, in addition to praising the normalization agreements between the Israeli entity and some Arab countries, describing them as “positive steps”, and calling on Arab countries to take more normalization steps. On the other hand, Biden reiterated the necessity of returning American financial and humanitarian aid to the Palestinian Authority, and called on Israel to stop settlement expansion in the West Bank, and stressed that the best way to solve the Palestinian “Israeli” conflict is political settlement and negotiations. Therefore, it is difficult to determine which foreign policies might Biden and his government embrace it on the Palestinian issue.
If Joe Biden wins the 2020 elections, there is a high possibility that the United States will return to its leadership role in managing regional crises and the return of American diplomacy to enhance active efforts in finding solutions to regional conflicts that affect the interests of the United States, especially in Syria, Libya, and Yemen.
Biden will likely respond to Congress’s call to end US military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, and he will also seek to find a solution to the conflict files in Syria and Libya by activating US diplomatic channels.
Also, the countries in the region that support Trump’s rule – especially Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt – may resort to returning to dealing with a democratic American administration in the event that Biden wins, and this means that US arms sales to these countries may not take place as quickly as before, and that issues related to human rights In that area, dealing with it may become more assertive. More importantly, the Gulf states may find themselves in danger of escalating Iranian activities in the region if the democrats agree with Iran.
Likewise, if Biden wins, US-Turkish relations may conflict in managing the region’s files, especially since Biden has repeatedly criticized the US government’s relations with Ankara, demanded more pressure on Turkey to reduce tension with Greece, and called for excluding Ankara from any diplomatic efforts in the region. The ongoing war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, so it is likely that the relationship between Ankara and Washington will worsen at the political level, which will have an economic impact in Turkey.
US policy under a new term for Trump
Tel Aviv supports a second term for Trump, as this ensures the continued support of the United States for “Israeli” policies in the region and plans for settlement expansion on large Palestinian lands.
The Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, also hope that the Trump administration will continue in a new term. To ensure the greatest pressure is exerted to reduce Iranian risks in the countries of the region. In addition to the lack of legal accountability for the human rights crimes committed by these countries against their peoples and the countries of the region.
There is no doubt that Turkey favors the Trump administration over Biden; Because that will enable it to move in the region in a manner that guarantees its interests without any American objections, and this is due to the friendly relationship between Turkish President Erdogan and his counterpart Trump, who made the US policy approach Turkey’s political positions, with regard to the withdrawal of US forces from northern Iraq and Syria, In addition to the American position on the recent Libyan crisis.
Trump’s victory in a second term means that he will continue his policy based on national security first, and secondly, protecting the narrow interests of the United States, including breaking out of a number of international agreements and resolving international political issues independently. But if Biden wins, the traditional left-wing approach will dominate the foreign policy of the United States, which means compliance with international treaties and agreements, and freedom from the isolation policy that Trump pursued in his mandate.
In general, the foreign policy of the United States cannot be completely different from its predecessors, because national and economic interests will remain the primary basis of the United States. As a result of the continuation of the Corona pandemic, it is expected that the new president’s focus will be on addressing the effects of the pandemic inside the United States of America, in addition to his confrontation of Chinese economic ambitions and its efforts to rise to the rank of the first global power, so the American intervention in the issues of the Arab region and its neighborhood may be very limited.
And based on opinion polls that favored Biden’s victory, with the likelihood of Trump’s victory, as happened with opinion polls that indicated Hillary Clinton’s victory; It is expected that the foreign policy efforts of the United States in the coming stage will focus mainly on managing the Iranian nuclear file, and the Palestinian conflict with the “Israeli” occupation. The United States may seek to restore its efforts, in coordination with the international parties, to reach a new agreement with Iran, and it is also possible that the US State Department will renew its role in peace agreements between the Arabs and “Israel” to ensure its mediating role between the parties to the conflict. But in the event that Trump manages to win a second term, it is possible that the American foreign policy will continue in the same diplomatic way towards the files of the region.