US Presidential elections are over and a new man is seated in the Oval Office in the White House. Joe Biden successfully defeated the incumbent Donald Trump to become the 46th president of the country. While 82 million Americans and many more celebrated the passing of the guard, social media in this part of the region suggests that some people here in Saudi Arabia were not too happy about it.
Along with diehard MAGA followers, they believed that the elections were taken away from Trump, in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Until the actual moment of the inauguration, they had held the hope that somehow the results would be overturned and Donald Trump would continue as President for four more years. But that was not to be.
Their trepidation was rooted in the notion that now with the US president, a Democrat in the White House, there would be a resurgence of wars in the region. They claim to have been fortunate with Trump at the helm as he did not start any new adventures in the Middle East, and as a matter of fact had made Saudi Arabia his first overseas visit, laying importance to the country’s relations with the United States.
Such concerns are understandable for a region that has seen much turmoil in recent decades, but is it all about the Democrats and their warmongering?
Back in 1973 during the Arab Israeli war, the sitting Republican US president, and his administration’s support for Israel forced the late King Faisal of Saudi Arabia to slap an oil embargo. This immediately resulted in the immediate quadrupling of the world oil prices. The US economy took a massive hit and daily life in many western countries was disrupted as the shortage of gasoline began to be felt across petrol stations throughout the countries affected by the embargo.
The Republican President Richard Nixon announced the formation of Project Independence to counter the Arab oil producers and promote domestic energy independence. It also began a series of intensive diplomatic efforts with its allies to form a consumers’ union, one that ‘would provide strategic depth and a consumers’ cartel to control oil pricing. Both of these efforts were only partially successful.’
Following the September 2001 bombings of the World Trade Center, the sitting US president, George Bush, another Republican responded by attacking Iraq in a shock and awe force that eventually decimated the existing power structure of Iraq and gave birth to militant terrorist groups such as Daesh and the like. It was Saddam’s absolute and dictatorial grip on his country that kept fringe elements in check, but with Iraq in tatters, they soon became a formidable force forming armed militias and setting about spreading their mayhem far and wide. At the opening of the Arab League Summit in 2007, the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia addressing Arab leaders emphatically stated that occupation of Iraq was illegal, telling Arab governments that unless they settled their differences, the United States and other foreign powers would continue to dictate the region’s politics.
Detractors accuse the democrat President Obama of allowing Syria and Libya to fall, while increasing Iran’s presence along with appeasing their nuclear ambitions. Months after he assumed the office of the presidency, Obama went to Cairo stating that he was seeking ‘a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect.’ He failed to address Iran’s expansion aims and promoted their need for nuclear power. He did not act forcefully in Syria when the situation demanded it.
However, Obama was weighed down by an unfavourable and Republican-dominated Congress and thus was ineffectual in overcoming powerful lobbies and addressing the real issues facing the Middle East. He couldn’t even get the federal judge he nominated to the Supreme Court to clear the US Senate for that matter!
One cannot simply assume that the leadership of one party or the other would act in a certain way in the United States. There are three branches of government and getting all three to reach a consensus on a matter is not always a sure thing. US politicians from across the United States all have their own agendas to promote and pass though their peers, with gentle tugs by powerful lobbies such as the National Rifle Association which stifles fresh calls for strict gun control laws.
So, it’s not all about democrats and war as history points out. It is not all about Republicans either. It is about self-interests that propels and guides US foreign policy.
— Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi sociopolitical commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Twitter: @talmaeena