Biden’s disengagement

Unlike Trump, who disengaged from the Middle East by bolstering the anti-Iranian axis and ensuring the security of U.S. allies, Biden is reneging on previous commitments and appeasing America’s enemies. Opinion.

Tags: Eyal Zisser
Prof. Eyal Zisser ,

Biden addresses a Joint Session of Congress
Biden addresses a Joint Session of Congress
Reuters

(JNS) Last week, U.S. President Joe Biden embarked on his first overseas trip since entering office. The message he sought to relay to his hosts and the rest of the world was that “America is back” and ready to take an active and leading role alongside the friends and allies he believes were abandoned under his predecessor Donald Trump.

An Israel visit is not on the itinerary. Instead, while in Europe, Biden will meet with NATO members, including loyal ally Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin, the latter of whom he only recently referred to as a “killer.”

While one can explain the decision to skip over Israel as a result of the chaotic political situation that has gripped the country in recent years, the fact is that Biden also chose to ignore other countries in the region, chief among them U.S. allies in the Arab Gulf. Trump, you will recall, began his tenure with a visit to those very same countries and Israel in an effort to express America’s deep commitment to contending with the Iranian threat.

Biden’s election victory last November sparked an interesting debate over the extent of his and his party’s commitment to the longstanding U.S.-Israel friendship. In the meantime, there has been no evidence of diminishing support in principle for Israel, but that is not the issue. Leave it to the Americans to differentiate between sentimental feelings and cold financial-political interests. Practically speaking, Biden’s message has been crystal clear: The U.S. has once again lost interest in the Middle East.

This sentiment was being whispered behind closed doors as far back as former U.S. President Barack Obama’s term in office, and was voiced more explicitly under Trump, who memorably referred to Syria as nothing more than “sand and death.” Yet unlike Trump, who disengaged from the Middle East through bolstering the anti-Iranian axis and ensuring the security of U.S. allies, Biden’s disengagement has seen him renege on previous commitments and appease America’s enemies.

The first stage in the disengagement is of course a return to the Iran nuclear deal, which will remove the threat of a conflagration that has the potential to drag the U.S. into a confrontation with Iran. Such an agreement would lay the foundation for the United States to lower its profile in the region.

At the same time, the Americans have begun to withdraw from Afghanistan following the signing of an accord with the Taliban. This is in fact a liquidation sale, to be paid for by Washington’s Afghan allies. After all, no one is under any illusions. Everyone understands that as soon as the Americans retreat, the Taliban will take over and establish a murderous terror regime.

The Americans are also looking to reach a deal with Iran’s Houthi proxies in Yemen. It is difficult to assume they will renounce their Iran ties, which is why, just as was the case with Hamas and Hezbollah, an end to the fighting in Yemen will allow them to equip themselves with an arsenal of weapons that allows them to threaten all the countries in the region, including Israel.

Eyal Zisser is a lecturer in the Middle East History Department at Tel Aviv University.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.



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