The Biden Doctrine: How and When it will Affect the Middle East
The Biden doctrine is the foreign policy approach of President Joe Biden, who took office in January 2021. The doctrine is based on four main pillars: restoring America’s leadership and credibility, rebuilding alliances and partnerships, advancing democracy and human rights, and addressing global challenges such as climate change, pandemics, and nuclear proliferation.
The doctrine reflects Biden’s vision of a more engaged, responsible, and multilateral America, that seeks to cooperate with its allies and partners, and to compete with its adversaries, in a way that upholds its values and interests, and that contributes to the peace and prosperity of the world.
The Biden doctrine has been applied to the Middle East, a region that has been a source of conflict, instability, and violence for decades, and that has posed significant challenges and opportunities for the U.S. and its allies. Some of the examples of the application of the doctrine are:
One of the first and most important steps that Biden took in the Middle East was to rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was abandoned by his predecessor Donald Trump in 2018. The deal, which was negotiated by the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, and Iran, aimed to limit Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.
Biden has expressed his willingness to return to the deal if Iran returns to full compliance, and has appointed a special envoy, Robert Malley, to negotiate with Iran and other parties to the deal. The goal of the U.S. is to restore and strengthen the deal, and to use it as a platform for further diplomacy on other issues of concern, such as Iran’s ballistic missile program, its regional influence, and its human rights record.
Another important step that Biden took in the Middle East was to support and expand the Abraham Accords, a series of normalization agreements between Israel and several Arab countries, such as the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco, which were brokered by the Trump administration in 2020. The accords, which were hailed as a historic breakthrough for peace and cooperation in the region, have opened new avenues for trade, tourism, investment, and cultural exchange between the former foes.
Biden has praised the accords as a positive development, and has pledged to build on them and to encourage more countries to join them. The U.S. also hopes to use the accords as a leverage to revive the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and to promote a two-state solution as the only viable option for resolving the conflict.
A third important step that Biden took in the Middle East was to end the U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition’s offensive in Yemen, which has been waging a brutal war against the Houthi rebels since 2015. The war, which has been fueled by the regional rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, has caused a humanitarian catastrophe, with millions of people facing famine, disease, and displacement.
Biden has declared that the war in Yemen has to end, and has suspended the arms sales and the intelligence sharing that the U.S. had provided to the coalition. The U.S. has also appointed a special envoy, Tim Lenderking, to work with the UN and other parties to broker a ceasefire and a political settlement that can end the suffering of the Yemeni people.
The Biden doctrine has had a significant impact on the Middle East, both in terms of the perception and the reality of the U.S. role and influence in the region. Some of the effects of the impact are:
The Biden doctrine has improved the U.S. image and reputation in the region, as it has shown a more consistent, credible, and respectful approach to the Middle East and its people. The U.S. has regained the trust and the confidence of its allies and partners, who had felt neglected and betrayed by the Trump administration’s erratic and unilateral policies. The U.S. has also gained the respect and the attention of its adversaries, who had felt emboldened and defiant by the Trump administration’s ineffective and confrontational policies. The U.S. has also demonstrated its commitment and its leadership on the issues that matter to the region and the world, such as the Iran nuclear deal, the Abraham Accords, and the Yemen war.
The Biden doctrine has changed the regional dynamics and balance of power in the region, as it has created new opportunities and challenges for the actors and the factors involved in the region. The U.S. has encouraged and enabled more dialogue and cooperation among the regional players, such as the GCC+3 summit, the Negev Forum, and the maritime-boundary deal between Israel and Lebanon, which have reduced the tensions and increased the interdependence in the region.
The U.S. has also challenged and constrained the behavior and the ambitions of the regional spoilers, such as Iran, Turkey, and Russia, who have faced more pressure and isolation in the region. The U.S. has also influenced and shaped the outcomes and the prospects of the regional conflicts and crises, such as the Syrian civil war, the Libyan civil war, and the Iraqi political transition, which have seen more progress and stability in the region.
The Biden doctrine has affected the interests and the security of the U.S. and its allies in the region, both positively and negatively, depending on the perspectives and the responses of the U.S. and its allies. The U.S. has advanced and protected its interests and security in the region, such as the prevention of a nuclear-armed Iran, the promotion of a peaceful and prosperous Israel, and the preservation of a stable and secure oil supply, by pursuing a more pragmatic, realistic, and multilateral strategy that balances its values and interests, and that contributes to the peace and prosperity of the region.
The U.S. has also faced some risks and trade-offs in its interests and security in the region, such as the backlash from some of its allies and partners, who have felt uneasy and dissatisfied with some of the U.S. policies and decisions, such as the withdrawal from Afghanistan, the rapprochement with Iran, and the suspension of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, by adopting a more selective, restrained, and conditional approach that prioritizes its global challenges and opportunities, and that recalibrates its relations and commitments in the region.