Joe Biden wants to erase the last four years. In the Mideast, that won’t be easy

A dramatic new political reality has dawned in Washington. But back in the Middle East, a distracted US president won’t have much room to maneuver on Iran and the Palestinians

Joe Biden’s cousin Joe Blewitt speaks to the media underneath his mural painted on a wall in Ballina, Ireland, January 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

There’s a new president in the White House who has already shown himself to be a radical departure from the last one. In his first hours in office, Joe Biden signed executive orders freezing or reversing some of his predecessor Donald Trump’s signature policies: the Mexico border wall, the ban on travel from several Muslim nations, the American withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, and so on.

In the Middle East, Israelis, Saudis, Iranians, Palestinians, and many others are bracing for a similar dramatic pivot in America’s policies toward the region. The painful sanctions imposed by Trump on Iran, Trump’s freeze of aid to the Palestinians and recognition of Israel’s West Bank settlements, the backing for Israeli-Arab normalization agreements and the boosting of the Israeli-Saudi alliance to contain Iranian ambitions throughout the Arab world — these policies and others have helped reshape the geopolitics of the region over the past four years, and all could now be up for reconsideration by the new administration.

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