Monday, February 26, 2024

This Administration is Stuck and can’t Get Up 

The Biden administration is struggling what to do next in the Middle East mud. At its early days in office, both in the White House and at Foggy Bottom, the Biden team dubbed MBS a pariah while the Houthis were taken off the terrorists’ list. Netanyahu was sidelined but, the Mullahs in Teheran were given a red-carpet treatment, albeit through the backdoor, by a specially dispatched valet named, Robert Malley. China was snubbed, Russia was hoodwinked, Europe was viewed as an easy backyard to toy with, fondle and wreck, and the rest of the world did not matter as much as did the imagined conspiracies being concocted at ‘Mar-a- Lago’. 

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Less than three years into the Biden presidency, and the whole picture in the Middle East has been turned upside down. MBS receives more visits from U.S. officials than the heads of the EU, Eurasia and Africa combined. The Biden administration is hoping to convince MBS of a peace deal with Israel in the hope of striking a ‘coup’ prior to the U.S. presidential elections. A thing that MBS understands too well and with the ongoing war in Gaza, he’s taking his sweet time. MBS will try to extract all possible concessions from the U.S. including a near-NATO status for defense and military cooperation and, tangible assurances against Iran’s belligerent intentions. Bibi is political toast after the attack of October 7, no doubt. However, till the Gaza war and most likely a war with Hezbollah in Lebanon is over, Biden will be the real hostage of Israel’s policies, not the other way around. The landslide victory of Trump in Iowa is a stark reminder to all candidates, incumbent and aspiring, that Israel has a ringside seat at these elections.  By now, the Houthis are not only threatening the Saudi border, which the Biden administration had allowed before, but are endangering the routes of international trade. This finally prompted the U.S., after much procrastination, to conduct air strikes supported by UK fighter jets. Iran’s proxies are constantly harassing U.S. troops and installations in Northern Syria and in Iraq. Hezbollah in Lebanon, at Iran’s behest, is keeping the Southern front warm and ready for more expansive attacks. So, freeing $6 bln in funds to Iran, as they were deposited in a Qatari bank, in exchange of some dual citizens did very little to alter the Mullahs’ attitude towards the U.S. or this administration. Nor did the fact that Malley was ultimately unmasked as the closest thing to an Iranian mole, help the situation any better. 

Again, what could the Biden administration do to salvage the situation and its candidate’s flailing presidential hopes? Nothing. He should just accept defeat (in the Middle East) and might as well send congrats to whomever will occupy the Oval Office in 2025. Why so dismissive? Because nothing will go Biden’s way in 2024. China and Russia will not render his task easy in Ukraine or in the Straits of Taiwan. Iran will most assuredly delay any deal on its nuclear program or ballistic missiles. Israel is presently under attack, so it’s in a favor-seeking mode, not in a submissive stance towards anyone let alone this U.S. administration, despite the Armada in the Red and Mediterranean Seas. The Houthis in their light brown gowns and colorful turbans, are pitting their rinky tinky missiles against NATO-grade defense systems and surviving to laugh about it. Hamas is dug in a tunnel with no light at its end, but they’re used to darkness anyway. Egypt appears politically surpassed by regional events, and both economically and diplomatically paralyzed, Syria is non-existent, Lebanon is a failed State that keeps on sliding further down the abyss, and Iraq is a shadow of its former self. This regional cocktail, whether of Molotov or some other flavor, is unpleasing for any palate, let alone to an enfeebled U.S. administration amid an election year. 

The only winners from this U.S. administration will most likely be Hunter Biden and Tucker Carlson. The first could secure an Oscar nomination for a remake of “Sex, Drugs, and Videotapes” and the second will have a strong comeback on Prime TV in 2025. None though, would help Biden get unstuck from this Middle East mud.

Someone said: “A silver-tongued charlatan and a half-wit society are made for each other”.

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