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Ten weeks away from the ‘bazaar’

August 18, 2020 at 11:38 am

US President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, DC on 12 August 2020 [Win McNamee/Getty Images]

We are only ten weeks away from one of the most dangerous and important American presidential elections. The capitals are undoubtedly waiting to see the “white smoke” rising from the ballot boxes, each with their own preferences. Tehran, who has been burned the most by the fires of “major pressure” put on it by the Trump administration, seems the most eager to turn the page on this administration.

On the eve of the presidential elections, Washington suffered one of its biggest diplomatic and moral losses in the Security Council, which was convened at the request of the US in a meeting dedicated to renewing the UN sanctions on Iran. Russia and China did not have to use their veto powers this time, as the very “watered down” American project only got two votes, one from the American delegate and the second from the Dominican Republic. As for Washington’s friends and allies, including the three major European allies, Germany, France and Britain, they all preferred to abstain from voting.

If the election winds blow in the direction desired by Joe Biden’s ships and that of his vice-president and successor Kamala Harris, then the moment of rapprochement between Tehran and Washington will have come, bringing with it major repercussions for the entire region. Some of the open crisis will witness backfiring solutions, the results of which could land badly on several Arab and regional capitals, especially those who did not consider such moments, believing that Trump and his administration are an irreversible destiny.

They also thought that by giving some governments and leaderships the green light to do as they please with their people and close and far neighbours, he has secured an “insurance policy” valid forever. This will change and we have already seen indications of such change in the statements made by Biden, which caused panic in Ankara and several Arab capitals, even before he set foot in the White House.

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Assuming that Trump will return for a second term, there is no confirmation that “Trump 2” will be an exact copy of “Trump 1,” and there is nothing to deny that. The man is making promises that go in a different direction to what he used to do in the early years of his administration. He vowed to sign an agreement with Iran and another with North Korea, within 30 days of his election. Some speak of his buried desire to do so before the elections to re-colour and polish his image. Bolton does not rule out urgent withdrawals from Afghanistan before November and even a withdrawal from NATO before the elections.

Some also talk about his desire to sign an agreement with North Korea before this date and continuing after. There are deep negotiations with Moscow to sign an agreement to limit nuclear proliferation, before reaching an American-Chinese agreement in this regard, and some do not rule out the success of the Russian initiative to reinstate the “5 + 1” group and Iran. This would put us facing the conclusion that the Iranian issue and its different aspects seems likely to return to the centre of attention, but through negotiations and diplomacy this time, not by parading battleships and aircraft carriers, assassinations, and harsh attacks through agents and allies.

READ: Trump says he probably would not attend Putin’s Iran summit

If Washington and Tehran return to cooperation, starting with the revival of the nuclear agreement, then the image of the Middle East, with its alliances and priorities, will change. This return will have direct and perhaps immediate repercussions on many of its open files and may open the bazaar for major trades and settlements, from Yemen to the Jordan Valley, and from Lebanon to Libya, through Syria and Iraq. It will be difficult for several Arab and regional countries to exercise their roles and continue implementing their behaviours as usual.

The smells of regional and international “deals” and “bargains” loom on the horizon, and there is some indication that Tehran may come out of it with a lot, while Ankara will come out with very little. As for the Arab capitals, it is more likely that they will come out empty-handed.

This article first appeared in Arabic in Addustour on 18 August 2020.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.