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America has voted, and although the final result has not yet been announced, it is almost certain that the Democrat Joe Biden will be the new President of the United States. And it is almost certain that we can say "Goodbye!" to the famous slogan "America First" of the incumbent president, Donald Trump. Biden left no doubt about his plans to bring a paradigm shift in Washington's politics, both domestically and internationally. But how will the change of US policy in the Middle East be reflected? Biden has made it clear that he intends to return to the Iranian nuclear deal, but there are many obstacles .
Most of the US mainstream media already announced that Joe Biden won enough electoral votes in order to become the next President of the United States, defeating the controversial Donald Trump. Thus, many questions have also arisen regarding that this change could mean for the internal and external US policies.
In my opinion, most of the ideas circulated in the recent days throughout the American media and social networks, highlight a somewhat euphoric tinge, even attributing to the new president a messianic role: he will save the world from injustice, tyranny and suffering etc.
Biden and his foreign policy team see the world completely differently than Trump have seen it. The new administration will likely seek to return to the systematic, institutionalized, alliance-centered, rules-based international order, carefully built by the United States since the end of World War II, unlike Trump, who respects none of this. But, at the same time, there will be areas of continuity where policies adopted by Trump will remain or even will be hardened.
Joe Biden's victory in the presidential election will undoubtedly bring a completely different style of communication with the US allies or opponents. Leaders around the world should prepare for a return to the standard official procedures, instead of the "tweet" policy adopted by President Donald Trump.
While Biden's victory provoked sighs of relief from several European leaders, some of whom had a troubled relationship with Trump, reactions from the Middle East were much less uniform. This is because some countries had benefited from the transactional, business-type, approach to diplomacy (especially Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Israel), that left out most of the concerns from issues such as human rights, as well as and Trump's tough line on Iran and lack of support for the Palestinians have fostered caustic relations and tensions between some countries in the region.
The Biden Administration is expected to reorient the US policy on issues such as Iran and promote respect for human rights in the region. But it is also likely that it will continue to want to lower the level of US engagement. Both Biden and Trump share the goal of reducing the US footprint in terms of military presence in the Middle East, which will include reducing funding and forces deployed in the region. But reducing the US presence in the region, but not the influence, will be a challenge.
What does Biden mean for the Iranian economy?
The short answer is: not too much. While the Iranian public considers Biden's victory good news, the effects on the Iranian economy would be modest even if he could decide to lift sanctions from day one of his presidency.
Iran is facing some of the biggest budget deficits in decades. As a result, injections of money into the economy have risen steadily over the past two years, leading to inflation rates well above 50%. The Iranian national currency, the Rial, has lost half its value against major currencies in just the last six months.
Even if the sanctions imposed on the Iranian oil industry are lifted on the first day of the mandate, it will take some time for Iran to significantly re-enter the global oil market. Traditional customers have already moved to other suppliers, and contracts in the field are often concluded on a long-term basis. On the other hand, the global oil market is currently facing a decline in demand and price due to the pandemic and the associated economic consequences.
The introduction of Iranian oil into the market will lower prices even further, reducing revenues for all oil-exporting countries, including Iran and international oil companies. Therefore, the removal of sanctions and the prospect of the return of Iranian oil to the global market will most likely lead to considerable losses for the US energy industry, a result that President Biden would like to avoid in the midst of one of the worst economic crises in the United States.
To conclude, Biden is not an unknown figure in politics, likely to make surprising decisions like Trump. With experience as Vice President of the Barack Obama Administration, the new president is likely to approach external issues in a similar way. In his relationship with the Middle East, Biden was with President Obama during the famous Cairo speech in June 2009, which announced the intention for a new beginning of US relations with the Arab and Islamic world. In the particular case of Iran, Biden is one of the promoters of the JCPOA, so the promise to return to the treaty seems quite plausible.
But this reorientation is difficult to implement and requires sustained time and effort, and it may be too late for Iran ... Unless the incumbent president makes a radical decision (he seems to have already asked his advisers about the opportunity of a blow on Iran).