Arab populism paints Trump as evil and Biden as the Mahdi

It is sad to note that what some Arab regimes only want from the new US president is to “take revenge” on a neighbour or brother.
Saturday 14/11/2020
A woman looks at newspaper headlines after the 2020 US election results, at a news stand in Beirut on November 8, 2020.  AFP
A woman looks at newspaper headlines after the 2020 US election results, at a news stand in Beirut on November 8, 2020. (AFP)

An old Arabic proverb says, “When a cow dies, knives abound.” Perhaps this proverb might fit today to describe what the people disgruntled at President Donald Trump and his four years in office are doing. Millions of Twitter and Facebook pages have literally come alive with analyses permeated with much gloating about the latter’s loss of the presidential election, or with tons of sarcasm as they commented his pictures, tweets and other comments about the elections being rigged.

This populist “revenge” against Trump does not include the practices of “journalists”, “media professionals” and “politicians” when they called Trump “idiot”, “donkey” or any other derogatory epithet. When you read and hear such wretched language coming from those who are supposed to be “opinion leaders” in the region, you can’t help but feel sorry for the future generations, and realise the extent of the intellectual decline that we are experiencing today in our societies.

In the context of “taking revenge” against the former American president, if we may say so, you can’t but wonder at the official stances of some countries in the region and the world. They were just as “wretched” as the “populist” wave at times, inconsistent and too hurried other times. Only China and Russia put the matter straight, and said that congratulations to John Biden must await the official announcement of his victory in the elections.

Perhaps some countries may be justified in “taking revenge” of Trump if he had harmed their interests or their people. They can do that politically by officially congratulating his opponent, or in the media by announcing his opponent’s victory before the election results are officially approved, accompanied by a slightly slanted analysis of his loss under the title of constructive criticism of a period of time that brought many changes to the countries of the Arab region and the world in general.

In truth though, it is difficult to say for sure that Trump and his administration had directly harmed a country in the Middle East with the exception of Palestine. He recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, transferred the US embassy to it, and drew a peace map between the Palestinians and the Israelis that contradicts the UN legislation that approved the two-states solution on the basis of the borders of June 4, 1967.

There are, of course, countries in the region, such as Iran, claiming to have been harmed by the “evil” American president; but when you look at these countries’ description of their grievances, you find that they relate to a large extent to security in the Middle East. In fact, were it not for Trump’s siege of the Khomeinists, the latter would have certainly wreaked havoc on neighbouring Arab countries far more than they had done during the terms of former US President Barack Obama.

What is harder to explain though are the reasons why some have chosen to “take revenge” on Trump by singing the praises of his successor as if he were the Messiah. Some countries are applauding Democrat Joe Biden only because they hate Trump. They know that President-elect Joe Biden is no less bad to them than his predecessor and others before him. Nevertheless, they welcomed him and rejoiced in his arrival at the White House as if he were the “awaited Mahdi.”

One such jubilant Arab country is Qatar. Qatar knows very well that Joe Biden might follow in the footsteps of his former Democratic boss, Barak Obama, and free up Iran’s hands to do what it wants in the region. It’s no skin off Qatar’s nose if that happens, although the tiny Gulf state, at least openly, claims to support the Syrian revolution that Tehran and its militias have suppressed, killing and displacing millions of Syrians.

We may see another reason for Qatar’s jubilation over Biden’s victory. The newcomer at the White House has more than once declared his intention to harm certain countries in the region. It is sad to note that what some Arab regimes only want from the new US president is to “take revenge” on a neighbour or brother. They don’t care how, nor do they worry about how much damage it may cause in the region in general, and they are more than ready to finance this revenge.

The Muslim Brotherhood is also dreaming of the new American president taking their revenge on those Arab countries that have banned political Islam and put its organisations on terrorist lists. The new president is a follower of Obama, who launched the theory of supporting extremist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and helping them to take control of the region and spread their ideologies. Then, he brought his armies to the Middle East to fight militant organisations like ISIS, born from the womb of these ideologies.

The problem for the Muslim Brotherhood is that their joy risks to be short lived. The new White House occupant is not on good terms with the Brotherhood’s protector and “guide”, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The former has been threatening the latter with terrible retaliatory measures for the latter’s strong relations with the Russians first, and secondly because of his arrogance and rebellion against America’s partners in Europe and NATO.

Speaking of the Europeans, they too have engaged in this game of “taking revenge” against Trump, albeit in a limited manner. Some countries in the old continent were quick to congratulate Joe Biden before the US election results were officially announced. But it can be said that their revenge was less ugly because, after all, the main reason why they liked Biden’s arrival at the White House is his lack of interest in the European contribution to the NATO budget.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has openly called for a new transatlantic partnership launched and sponsored by the United States. The first condition for the partnership that the Europeans, or more precisely the European Union, are looking for is for Donald Trump to go and be replaced by a president who does not raise the slogan “America first” and does not care about the means of filling the US treasury.

The British government, despite the warm friendship between Boris Johnson and Trump, was quick to congratulate the president-elect, Joe Biden, as well. Perhaps the gesture was motivated by “taking revenge” of Trump’s procrastination in signing the free trade agreement with the United Kingdom, or perhaps by a preconceived realization by London that confronting the democratic majority in the US House of Representatives may dissipate the future chances of concluding that agreement altogether.

The conclusion of a free trade agreement between London and Washington may falter if Biden arrives at the White House, but it can never be said that the decades-long strategic alliance between the two parties will vanish, or that the British do not have the keys and tools necessary for dialogue with American Democrats and for reaching understandings with them on economy, politics, security and many other things.

Whether in retaliation against the “evil” Trump or in fear of the “good” Biden, the official reactions of many countries to the US presidential elections reflected the scope of the growing influence of the United States in shaping the foreign and domestic policies of many countries. This crudely marginalises all theories that claim that the world has changed and is now multi-polar in power and influence.

The United States remains the world’s policeman and the regulator of international politics, and the White House is like a cockpit. It is true that the captain changes every four or eight years at the maximum, but those who make American policies continue to be in place for longer than that. Any change in these policies does not depend on the signature of a single person, but carries the seals of the institutions of a superpower.