US President-elect Joe Biden is likely to involve America in disputes and conflicts within the Middle East as a direct result of the people who he is appointing to his administration. That’s the view of former British Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford, who told the Russian news outlet Sputnik that Biden’s selection of Antony Blinken as his Secretary of State signals more interference by the US in Middle East affairs, and a significant increase in its involvement in Syria and Iran.
Biden announced Blinken as his choice for the senior post on Tuesday. Other appointees include Jake Sullivan, a former aide to Hillary Clinton, as National Security Advisor.
Biden’s choices for his administration and foreign policy team mirror many of those who served under former President Barack Obama, when Biden was Vice President. It has led to increasing speculation about whether Biden will adopt a similar foreign policy to Obama, particularly for the Middle East.
“Blinken is on record deeply regretting that Obama nixed plans for the United States to go wading into the Syrian quagmire even more than it did already, and condemning [President Donald] Trump’s worthy but feeble attempts to withdraw US troops from Syria,” explained Ford. “The scene is set for more counter-productive US belligerence and interference in the Middle East.”
If Ford’s prediction proves true, it would mean that the likes of Blinken and Sullivan could steer the US towards maintaining and even increasing the number of US troops in Syria. That would reverse the controversial withdrawal efforts made by Trump, which were secretly undermined by his envoy to Syria James Jeffrey.
In contrast, Obama initially supported the Syrian opposition following the 2011 outbreak of the revolution against the country’s President Bashar Al-Assad. He also intervened in Libya against Muammar Gaddafi, and was positive towards negotiating with Iran and signing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal in 2015.
According to Ford, Blinken aims to take the US back into the Iranian nuclear deal, which Trump pulled out of in 2018, solely to have the upper hand over Iran in efforts to control it.
“If this is the mindset and the objective he brings to the table with Iran, the recalibration of relations with Iran is dead in the water,” Ford said. “Neither of these appointments bodes well for peace in the Middle East, or probably anywhere else. Both appointees are classic products of the Washington conveyor belt of true believers in American exceptionalism and ‘leadership’.”
Earlier in Blinken’s political career, he apparently advised Biden to vote for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which raises concerns amongst many that his policies will be interventionist in the region.