There is no such thing as a boring year when you are the US secretary of state, but this year was especially busy for Antony Blinken. It started with the fallout from his country’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and the resettlement efforts of Afghan refugees in the States – an effort that faced major bureaucratic hurdles. The Biden administration, including the State Department, criticized the chaotic withdrawal as ill-planned and poorly executed.
Russia-Ukraine War: Blinken's most significant challenge of 2022
However, Blinken’s most significant challenge this past year was, without a doubt, the war in Ukraine. The US imposed severe sanctions on Russia, including on its energy and banking industry. Experts estimated that these efforts, coordinated with the EU, surprised Russian President Vladimir Putin, who did not expect a unified front from the West. On the other hand, the sanctions also contributed to the global energy crisis and are considered one of the drivers of high inflation in the US and worldwide.
Blinken’s diplomatic work included visits to Kyiv, coordinating US aid to Ukraine and a diplomatic effort to accept Sweden and Finland as NATO members.
Blinken, the Iran nuclear deal and helping Israel with the Abraham Accords
The US secretary of state also oversaw the administration’s effort to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran. And while the administration is still looking for ways to rejoin the JCPOA, Washington experts believe that the deal was put on ice – at least until after the midterm elections in November.
Between all these, Blinken also arrived in Israel earlier this year to participate in the first Negev Summit with representatives from the Abraham Accords countries to strengthen their agreements and explore tangible ways to achieve expanded cooperation, including with Jordan and Egypt. And while several countries were mentioned as potential candidates to join the accords – with a focus on Saudi Arabia – the Biden administration has yet to succeed in bringing another country to normalize ties with Israel.