The direction of US foreign policy towards the Middle East

The year 2022 was a year full of dramatic developments in the world, and the most important of these developments was the explosion of the Ukraine war last February, and it has not ended yet. This war devoured the military machines of Russia and Ukraine, and also swallowed NATO’s ammunition. This conflict led, in about nine months, to the division of the Security Council and the collapse of its ability to impose a cease-fire and manage negotiations in order to reach an acceptable solution to this devastating war. It also led to a near collapse of the global economic system, especially with regard to energy, as Europe is looking for sources of oil and gas to face the harsh winter, and other continents, especially Africa and the Middle East, are looking for grain and sources of vital storage.

And if there was a state of war that came close to threatening the world with a nuclear confrontation, it is the Ukrainian-Russian war. With it, we will all cross into the year 2023 without seeing a quick and direct solution to this conflict, and the continuation of the Ukraine war in the next year will constitute the biggest challenge in terms of resolving conflicts between East and West. This confrontation has led to major impacts on the ability of the United States and its image globally. As we have written in the past, the dramatic withdrawal from Afghanistan and the hasty return to the Iranian nuclear agreement has led to a reversal in the assessment of other major powers from Russia, China and some countries such as North Korea and Iran to a re-evaluation of the view of US’s power, and perhaps historians may discover that at the heart of the decision to invade Ukraine was  is a feeling among these forces that Washington will not directly intervene militarily and will not deploy its forces inside Ukraine, especially after it withdrew from Afghanistan and in this way. Thus the Russian forces entered the lands of its neighbor and its leadership may believe that in the end, if it does not get all of Kiev, it will get the areas that it wants to control and annex it, perhaps in the east and south of the country, and Crimea, and expand its coasts in the Black Sea. Without a doubt, this will remain the greatest impact on the global military level this past year.

Influence on Washington

However, this influence on the United States will have repercussions in other areas, both internal and external. The policy of the incumbent administration in the Middle East will be affected, and it faces many challenges that we have gone through and most of which we have solved. However, the US foreign policy, which is known for its continuity in terms of interests, as well as for its volatility according to who is in the White House, will be affected by the next three storms. Two internal and one external storms will affect its policies in depth.

The first storm: Congress

The first storm is in the results of the US Congressional elections and the Republicans’ control of the House of Representatives.

Of course, the Republican leadership wished to obtain complete control of Congress, that is, to have a majority in the Senate as well. However, unless there is any constitutional development, this institution will remain in the hands of the Democrats, but by a single vote. And Democrats may need a vice president to pass every bill they put forward now. However, US domestic developments may come as a surprise in the next two years. Last week, Arizona Senator Christine Cinema moved from the Democratic Party to the list of independents, which will affect and weaken the absolute Democratic majority, but without canceling it. Other surprises may happen, such as the possibility of another Democratic senator moving to an independent site. The current democratic majority is weak and may force its party to negotiate with regard to foreign policy, including in the Middle East.

Therefore, the major constitutional storm in Washington is the control of the Republicans, the majority of whom are supporters of former President Donald Trump, over the House of Representatives. This means that the chairmen of the committees, especially foreign affairs, defense and security, will work to influence the Biden administration’s policy with regard to the Middle East. We wrote last week about the files that will be affected, the most important of which is the Iranian nuclear deal. The US policy towards the Iranian regime in 2023 will be a major challenge, as the Republicans will face Biden’s Middle East policy, especially towards Iran. At the same time, they will seek to reform this policy as well towards Israel and the Arab coalition. The files of this policy will be opened in the House of Representatives and partly in the Senate, which will oblige the White House to amend some, but not all, of its policies in the next two years, and may prevent it from obtaining support or a vote in Congress to sign the Iran nuclear deal. This storm will be similar to the storm that the Democrats unleashed on the Trump administration during the four years of his rule, especially in the last two years. The wheel is turning, and the House of Representatives will be able to launch hearings and see the budgets of the various US policies towards the parties to the region. The council can help whomever it wants and cancel the aid of whomever it wants. However, this does not mean that this storm will change all US policy in the region, but the existing US policy will change to a certain extent.

The second storm: the Twitter coup

With Elon Musk taking over the Twitter platform this fall and with the release of the secret “Twitter Files” accusing the Biden administration since 2021 and the former opposition led by Barack Obama during Trump’s term of having interfered in the presidential elections in 2020, these files will have profound political consequences in American society and internal divisions will increase and may lead to destabilization of Biden’s policy on the internal level and of course on the external level, including in the Middle East. One of the most important files that will be affected by Musk’s control of the Twitter platform externally is the issue of Iran, as it has become noticeable that the Iranian opposition has become more active in tweeting about its cause now than it was since 2009, and the reasons for that intersect. Elon Musk was the first to give the Iranian people, albeit in a limited way, internet coverage via StarLink to help Iranian protesters communicate with each other and express themselves and what is going on inside the outside world, which has had and continues to have an impact in Europe and North America. But the most important thing is that the platform gave great strength to the Iranian opposition, which opposes the nuclear agreement, and has a very large presence on Twitter. The Musk administration has ended the “vetoes” that were placed on all those who opposed the Iranian nuclear agreement for years, and therefore the Iranian-American and European groups and those operating within Iran have become ten times greater than they were before the advent of Elon Musk to the scene. Of course, this affected and will affect the American public opinion, which has found a way to mobilize public opinion, artists, and representatives, so it is putting pressure on the White House directly, which will make it more difficult to pass the nuclear agreement through Congress, not even through popular blessing.

The Third Storm: The Iranian Revolution

This impulse practically comes from Iran itself. With the continuation of the demonstrations and the expansion of the comprehensive uprising within the Iranian borders, the expression that it enjoys now and its ability to resist for many months has created a wave of support in the West in general and in Europe and America in particular. The influence of the Iranian lobby on decision-making centers in Brussels and Washington is weakening with the expansion of protests at home. Although the regime has a lethal repressive force, it seems that the uprising has reached the point of launching an Iranian revolution that is not going backwards, which warns that the revolution inside Iran will itself be a major factor in influencing American public opinion and in turn putting pressure on foreign policy towards the region.

The bottom line is, the three storms, the change of the majority in the US House of Representatives, the advent of Elon Musk to the political arena via Twitter, and the revolution inside Iran, are a triangle that will create a political volcano and thus constitute a challenge to the progress of the current policy by pressuring it and perhaps forcing it to change something. We do not know to what extent it will change or how will the Iranian lobby respond to these storms? However, what we have reached now in US policy towards the Middle East has not been seen before in the past years. The intersection of the Iranian revolution, the Twitter revolution, and the upcoming parliament revolution is the title of the new phase that will affect Washington in the next two years.

Amer Ababakr
Amer Ababakr
Amer Ababakr holds Ph.D. degree, Cyprus International University. His major is in Politics in the Middle East. His fields of interests include international relations, international security, foreign policy, and ethnic conflict.