By Muna Al-Fuzai
Amidst the US presidential election campaign, a wave of public anger against racism and the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are following analyses, statements and predictions published in the American media, especially since Gulf countries’ interests are closely linked with American policy, and perhaps today this is stronger than ever. The big question is what the 2020 US presidential election means for the Middle East and the Gulf countries (GCC)?
When US President Donald Trump entered the White House in Jan 2017, leaders from the region welcomed him and prepared themselves to deal with the new administration. GCC officials congratulated the new president then and expressed their hope to strengthen the decades-old partnerships between their countries and the United States.
US-GCC relations have strengthened through time, despite political conflicts and economic challenges in the area. Ties between the two sides have been stable even with differences in political agendas between the Republicans and the Democrats. I believe the relationship was maintained by mutual interests and stable leaderships.
While we are witnessing massive global changes over many issues, I don’t expect a huge alteration in US policy towards Gulf countries. Maybe the winner of the upcoming election may have a different perspective or agenda towards Iran’s uranium enrichment program and the sanctions that have been imposed on Tehran for the past three years. But will we witness variations regarding Iraq, Syria and Yemen?
I remember very well that in 2017, I published an article in Kuwait Times in which I wrote that US policy has general rules, which none of the incoming presidents – whether Republican or Democrat – will disagree or ignore. Today, after four years, and with new elections looming, such expectations have returned, but in difficult circumstances all over the world with the continued spread of the coronavirus and a wave of public anger.
I am following the upcoming US elections because the results are important to us in the Middle East, especially Gulf countries. The decisions that are taken there will have a direct impact on our lives for years. I enjoy following American electoral debates, especially since elections in the Arab world differ from elections in Western countries.
Although the goal is known, the mechanisms and tools for monitoring the electoral process are diverse and open to the public. The candidates also are subject to difficult debates and confrontations that involve revealing much of their personal and practical lives. That is something we are not familiar with in the Arab world. The electoral process in the United States of America is a very complex and competitive process, and the media plays a strong role in the process.
The Arab world faces a dilemma in consolidating the concept of democracy because many countries face the fact that elections entrench differences. Even after the elections are over, the division is usually on sectarian or intellectual bases, which is the most dangerous, even with public participation. In many cases, elections lead to the emergence of other problems.
The economy is essential – this is a fact. What is happening in America is undoubtedly a private matter, but the American economy is affected by the results of elections, just as American decisions affect us directly, especially as we are oil-producing states. I believe speculations about the impact of the US elections on the Middle East will begin early, so I will join the millions watching the situation and hoping for good.