Joe Biden with his pet
How will a Biden presidency look like? For the Middle East peace initiatives, this could take on many facets, some of which may not be welcome ones. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

There is no doubt that Donald Trump’s 2016 election as US President changed the rules of the game in global politics. Trump showed the world a different political conduct, which was primarily business-oriented.

Ever since the collapse of the communist regimes in 1989 and the world stopped waging the Cold War, it has gradually been replaced with an economic one. In this light, in terms of the Israeli-Arab conflict, Trump always believed that it is time for all parties to leave their disagreements behind since their ideological conflict is irresolvable.

These were nothing but old, impractical yearnings, which are no longer feasible in today’s reality. The issue of peace in the Middle East is purely economical, especially now that the Gulf countries have come to terms with the fact that the oil industry is going into decline and can no longer serve as their financial backbone.

They also realize that their oil industry’s political influence is quickly diminishing. Additionally, due to the large quantities of oil discovered in recent years in other parts of the world, the Gulf is no longer one of the primary oil superpowers.

Too inward looking

As far as Biden’s possible election, we need to consider that some of his world views are inherently problematic. First and foremost, Trump extracted the US from its nuclear agreement with Iran and imposed extremely harsh sanctions, which in effect have been dramatically crippling its economy since 2016.

Biden, however, unlike Trump, is passive. He doesn’t like changing things, and is not expected to initiate any new global moves as he mostly cares about internal US politics. The great fear is that Biden would re-enter the nuclear agreement with Iran, which would lead to the lifting of its economic sanctions.

This in turn would flood the world with Iranian oil, because this is the only currency Iran is left with after the industrial and agricultural sectors were severely damaged by the sanctions.

A crash in the making

For oil consumers, this development is naturally a positive, because it would cause oil prices to plunge to as low as $20 a barrel. For the Gulf countries, however, this means economic turmoil, as the majority of their state income is based on oil and its by-products.

Therefore, if Iran is allowed to market its oil freely, the region could find itself in chaos. For this reason, Biden’s election could cause financial havoc in the Middle East and which would lead to extreme tensions with Washington.

No big peace gestures

Additionally, Biden is not the type of person who is capable of orchestrating peace agreements in the region, unlike what we have seen from Trump in recent times. Those efforts required great courage. And Trump’s courage to take uncomfortable decisions is also evident in his relationship with China, which consists of recurrent sanctions.

In summary, Biden’s election could lead to a serious economical crisis, as well as a significant delay in fulfilling US decisions upon which the recent peace agreements were based such as various weapons deals. Biden may turn out to be a serious challenge for the region.

However, it would be extremely encouraging to discover that my analysis here of his political and economical tendencies are truly misplaced. I truly hope that Biden’s administration would acknowledge the enormous importance of the recent Middle East peace agreements, promote the continued normalization between Israel and the Arab world, and prevent Iran from flooding the world with its economically-problematic oil.

- Samuel Shay, Chairman of Israel – UAE Business Forum.