By Liah Noboa 9-II
The new US President Joe Biden has exacerbated already difficult matters when it comes to the Middle East and the United States, and currently, things aren’t looking very good for civilians on both sides either. In early February 2021, authorities say a big number of suspected Iranian-based militants were killed in an operation carried out by the Biden administration in Syria, signaling the administration’s intention to use targeted military intervention to counteract aggression linked to Tehran. The strike on a border crossing station in Syria, the Biden administration’s first offensive action against Iran’s network of armed militias, was “approved in response to the recent attacks on American and coalition personnel in Iraq, as well as continuing threats,” according to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.
This is a considerable negative sign for the new administration, as the President himself promised to keep more peace and security domestically and internationally in order to be one step closer to reach sustainable development. These efforts have even been depicted as a “cowardly aggression” in a statement from Syria’s foreign ministry that was published by state media. The state news agency SANA explains that these attacks were a crime against humanity and will result in “repercussions that will intensify the crisis in the field” — and that is certainly veridic. The Pentagon furthermore justified the attacks, claiming that the president’s rights as commander in chief are granted by Article II of the Constitution, and quoting Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, which gives countries the right of “self-defense” in the event of an invasion.
Even as Mideast risks continue, the Biden administration has stressed its intention to concentrate more on the challenges faced by China in its first weeks. Biden’s assault in Syria did not seem to signal a desire to expand US military presence in the area, but rather a desire to protect US troops in Iraq and send a warning to Iran.
Now, you may be thinking that there is no difference between the previous Trump administration and the present one in this situation, but there is a slight difference, even from the Obama administration.
Biden’s approach differs significantly from that of Donald Trump, and this is no surprise for many peers. On contrast from the current president, Trump welcomed Saudi and Israeli leaders without reservation; after exiting the Obama-era nuclear bargain, he continued to squeeze Iran with tough talk and economic sanctions, even though he largely turned a blind eye as Tehran and its proxies threatened America and its allies. In addition, he took a step back from the area to allow Russia and Turkey to move in, and he ignored human rights violations.
He also differs from the Obama administration, which is a surprise, since Biden’s conduct so far indicate that he would still depart from Barack’s policy. Obama made a point of speaking out for human rights and openly condemning allies such as Israel and Saudi Arabia straight away. He attempted to make Iran diplomacy the focal point of his foreign policy legacy. And he drew a “red line” in Syria, threatening retaliation if President Bashar al-Iran-backed Assad’s government used chemical weapons; when it did, however, Obama, who made his name protesting the Iraq War, actually chose not to participate.
Whether Biden continues to keep an offensive stance in the Middle East or not, it is clear that these human right violations are a matter of concern, since innocent children, women, men, and elders are getting hurt. Many have been displaced and desperate for a better quality of life, and the present tensions unfortunately are not aiding much, if not at all, the situation. Additionally, the Biden administration evidently posed a different strategy and stance in the Mideast region as well as ongoing conflicts, which may mean a good thing or something bad — only time will tell.
- Daou, M., 2021. American air strikes in Syria: Joe Biden’s firm but cautious message to Iran. [online] France 24. Available at: <https://www.france24.com/en/middle-east/20210227-american-air-strikes-in-syria-joe-biden-s-firm-but-cautious-message-to-iran> [Accessed 16 March 2021].
- Goodman, A., 2021. Biden “Illegally” Bombs Iranian-Backed Militias in Syria, Jeopardizing Nuclear Talks with Tehran. [online] Democracy Now! Available at: <https://www.democracynow.org/2021/3/1/syrian_airstrikes_biden_administration> [Accessed 16 March 2021].
- Newburger, E., 2021. Biden tells Congress Syria strikes are consistent with U.S. right to self-defense. [online] CNBC News. Available at: <https://www.cnbc.com/2021/02/27/biden-tells-congress-syria-strikes-are-consistent-with-us-right-to-self-defense.html> [Accessed 16 March 2021].