Voices from the Arab press: Will Biden, Trump recompete in the 2024 election?

A weekly selection of news and analyses from the Arab media around the world.

 LOOKING TOWARD November 2024. (photo credit: BING GUAN/REUTERS)
LOOKING TOWARD November 2024.
(photo credit: BING GUAN/REUTERS)

Will Biden and Trump recompete in the 2024 election?

Al-Itihad, UAE, July 30

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Two events over the past week have raised questions about the viability of Joe Biden and Donald Trump to compete in the next presidential election scheduled to take place in November 2024. By that time, Biden will be approaching his 82nd birthday and Trump will be 78. Biden was recently diagnosed with COVID-19 and, although it appears mild, he has been performing his work remotely. His supporters are concerned about whether his faltering health will allow him to withstand the arduous demands of the midterm elections, not to mention the presidential campaign. While Trump’s physical health is not an issue at the moment, his erratic behavior and constant preoccupation with the 2020 presidential election, which he continues to insist was stolen, worries many Republicans.

On July 21, Trump faced the most serious crisis he has faced since leaving office. On that day, the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack held its eighth public hearing, which was broadcast for the first time on prime-time television. This hearing was devoted to discussing how Trump acted on January 6, when his supporters swarmed the Capitol, causing panic, death and mayhem, including chants of searching for Vice President Mike Pence to hang him.

Pence’s crime was that he refused to comply with Trump’s demand to use his power as President of the Senate and deny the certification of Biden’s victory. For three hours and seven minutes, from the time the huge crowd gathered in The Ellipse, where speakers urged them to march toward the Capitol, until the moment they finally demanded that the crowd disperse, Trump took no steps to stop the chaos. He spent most of that time in his dining room next to the Oval Office, watching Fox’s coverage of the uprising.

An explosion caused by a police munition is seen while supporters of US President Donald Trump gather in front of the US Capitol Building in Washington, US, January 6, 2021 (credit: REUTERS/LEAH MILLIS)An explosion caused by a police munition is seen while supporters of US President Donald Trump gather in front of the US Capitol Building in Washington, US, January 6, 2021 (credit: REUTERS/LEAH MILLIS)

His senior staff, including his legal adviser Pat Cipollone, his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, urged him to make strong calls on television for the crowds to stop and go home. But he made no such effort. Nor did he contact the departments of Defense and Homeland Security to help secure the Capitol. Instead, at 2:24 p.m., he tweeted: “Pence didn’t have the guts to do what had to be done.” As his former employees shared in the hearing, this tweet only fueled the flames.

One outcome of the hearings was the decision of two of the country’s most conservative newspapers, the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal, owned by Rupert Murdoch, to publish editorials stating that Trump should not run for president in 2024. This may not affect ordinary Trump supporters, but will have an impact on the Republican establishment and major campaign finance donors who may be willing to support some of Trump’s rivals, such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

In addition, as more evidence of Trump’s complicity in the insurgency comes to light, the US Department of Justice may decide to indict him. Trump may announce early on that he will run again, in the hope that it will dissuade the Justice Department from pursuing him. The biggest dilemma for Democrats is that, as Biden recovers from COVID-19, other weaknesses, including his frequent verbal slips, will increase questions about his health and eligibility for the job.

So far, no Democratic rival has emerged, but these issues present serious challenges for Biden. If Trump decides to run, Biden’s ego will likely push him to pursue another term in office. But if, for whatever reason, Trump steps aside, the pressure on Biden to step down from the race will increase, with hopes that a younger candidate will be better suited to win and take over the White House. – Jeffrey Kemp

Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in Paris

An-Nahar, Lebanon, July 29

The results of the official visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) to France were not surprising to observers who have followed the course of Saudi-French relations in the past two years. The official visit had a royal character to it, especially in terms of the warmth and hospitality of the French government. The strong relationship between MBS and French President Emmanuel Macron, who made a daring bet a few years ago and decided to establish close relations with the Saudi leadership, stood in stark contrast to Saudi Arabia’s cold ties with the United States. Everyone remembers just how much relations between Washington and Riyadh have deteriorated under the Biden administration, before a decision was made in the White House to mend the ties, despite strong opposition from Biden’s very own Democratic party.

Some Democrat hard-liners still promote the policy of adopting the Iranian option at the expense of Washington’s historical strategic alliances with Saudi Arabia and its Gulf partners, along with Egypt. On the French side, Macron warned against returning to the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement and reaffirmed the commitment of the three European signatories (France, Britain and Germany) to Saudi Arabia’s security.

When it comes to the thorny issue of Yemen, the French president expressed his desire to bring an immediate cessation to the fighting on the ground, but also recognized the threat posed to Saudi and Emirati territory, which is being attacked by the Iranian-backed Houthi militia.

Of course, the bilateral relations between France and Saudi Arabia were the cornerstone of the visit and included discussions on joint investments, including in the energy and renewable energy sector, which came to the fore with the war in Ukraine. What was remarkable about the bilateral talks was that they also included cooperation in the fields of culture and arts. Consequently, Riyadh announced that it will undertake the restoration of the Arab World Institute building in Paris, which represents a major landmark in the cultural relationship between France and the Arab world.

The visit of the MBS to Paris constituted an important occasion to strengthen the Saudi diplomatic reform that he has led and comes in the context of proving Saudi Arabia’s position on the global map as a major regional power with a clear international role in a number of strategic areas.– Ali Hamada

Translated by Asaf Zilberfarb.