Bahraini defense chair: Biden should end Iran’s ‘interference’ in Gulf

Continue sanctions until Tehran ‘returns to international legitimacy and gives up nuclear weapons,’ senior legislator urges.

Democratic 2020 US presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks at his election rally, after news media announced that Biden has won the 2020 US presidential election, in Wilmington, Delaware, US, November 7, 2020. (photo credit: JIM BOURG / REUTERS)
Democratic 2020 US presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks at his election rally, after news media announced that Biden has won the 2020 US presidential election, in Wilmington, Delaware, US, November 7, 2020.
(photo credit: JIM BOURG / REUTERS)
With the election of Joe Biden as president of the United States, questions arise about his future relationship with the Arab Gulf states and the Greater Middle East, especially since Biden frequently criticized policies of President Donald Trump that several countries in the region supported and which led to the curtailment of the Iranian role.
One of the most important questions relates to US-Iranian relations and their impact on the region, with Tehran accused of intervening in several countries through various militias and political movements that it finances. Another concerns the future of the Palestinian-Israeli issue.
Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa, Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman and Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa congratulated the president-elect and affirmed their desire to work to strengthen bilateral relations, while analysts and experts confirmed that American policy will witness a change. Perhaps that is best for the region.
Mohammed al-Sisi, the head of the Foreign Affairs, Defense and National Security Committee in the Bahraini Council of Representatives, the lower house of the national legislature, told The Media Line there are conversations about the different orientations of the US Democrats and Republicans, but no matter who was in the White House, Bahrain has had friendly relations with the US going back 120 years.
“Over the past 50 years, many presidents have taken office in the United States, and the relationship with Bahrain has continued to grow. We hope in the coming period that relations with President Biden will bring the good to the world, region and Bahrain, through dialogue, understanding, strengthening bilateral, historical relations, and partnership based on understanding between the two countries,” Sisi said.
“We hope to continue seeking to resolve conflicts, the most important of which is the Palestinian-Israeli issue, through the two-state solution initiative that is supported by all the world and the Gulf states, including the State of Israel,” he said.
“We also hope that the next president will put an end to Iranian interference in several Arab capitals, and he must secure the Arab Gulf and continue to impose sanctions on Iran until it returns to international legitimacy, and gives up nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction.
“I expect that the next stage will be prosperous since relations have always been developing and there are several agreements and treaties with the United States of America. In the Bahraini Council of Representatives, we also have good relations with the American Congress. I met with the Foreign Affairs Committee in Congress. We had contacts with them, which will continue,” Sisi said.
Saad Rashid, a political analyst for Bahrain’s Al-Watan daily, told The Media Line that Biden’s electoral victory does not frighten the Gulf states or other countries of the region, nor will it cause problems in the Middle East after the great changes it has undergone, “as we are talking about agreements and treaties with large countries.
“Now we now have a peace agreement with Israel. In my view, the new administration headed by Joe Biden will support this agreement with Israel, and will expand it further,” Rashid said.
“Joe Biden has ambitions that were mentioned in his victory speech after his unofficial win in the election: He seeks stability in the region through cooperation with the countries of the region, putting aside differences, and for all issues to be brought to the negotiating table. Biden knows that the desire of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries is to stop the Iranian tide in the countries of the region, and therefore he is well aware that the desire for good cooperative relations with the Gulf countries will go through this path,” he continued.
The Gulf Cooperation Council members are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The Gulf states, along with the US, seek to confront the terrorist entities of the Iranian regime and those affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, in addition to continuing cooperation in the fields of intelligence and information exchange, Rashid said. The Gulf states have great shared interests with the US, and the arms deals will not stop, as the Democrats have learned a valuable lesson from the Barack Obama era, he added.
He thinks one important difference between Biden and Trump is that the president-elect is more interested in political and military achievements than the economic gains that the incumbent emphasized. Biden, according to this point of view, is looking for an increase in US political and military influence in the Middle East, in contrast to the Trump Administration, which was withdrawing US military forces, causing chaos in the region.
“Joe Biden will establish a new agreement with Iran, and the Gulf states will have a role in this new agreement with Tehran. I believe that the agreement will include the presence of nuclear reactors for peaceful use in Iran in cooperation with Israel, to ensure that Iran signs a new nuclear agreement, and the Iranian nuclear reactors will be under the supervision of international agencies, which is good for the Gulf states,” Rashid said.
Amjad Taha, the British-Bahraini director of the London-based British Middle East Center for Studies and Research’s Gulf office and the author of The Deception of the Arab Spring, told The Media Line that Biden would not greatly change US policies regarding the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, which have always cooperated with American administrations, whether they are Democratic or Republican.
Biden will stop Iranian interference in the region, and he will work to continue Trump’s policy of weakening the Iranian regime through economic sanctions, Taha said.
“Economically, and militarily, Bahrain has many agreements that lead the relationship with US, and other Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia have agreements with the United States, and they both [Bahrain and Saudi Arabia] are fighting against the Houthi’s terrorism in Yemen, and they fought previous wars against ISIS terrorism,” he said.
“There will be a lot of work to do in the fields of fighting terrorism and stopping Iran. It is true that US President Donald Trump has been more open with the Gulf countries, but Biden may accept the Gulf’s view of the relationship with Iran,” Taha said.
“If the Biden Administration wishes to return to the Iran nuclear deal, it must take into account the security concerns of the Gulf states and the extent of the Iranians’ interference in the region and their attacks on ships,” he continued.
Biden will spend a lot of time in discussions with the Gulf states about Iranian terrorism and the future of the relationship with Tehran, he added.
“Perhaps there will be more peace agreements between Gulf states and Israel, and they will certainly be good for the Palestinians as well,” Taha said.
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