tests for Joe Biden in 'new' Middle East
"Folks, it's a time of testing." So said America's new president in Wednesday's inauguration speech before listing the tests the country faces and concluding with "America's role in the world".
Jan. 22 - Some of the toughest questions on that exam are in the Middle East.
Joe Biden's team is dominated by old hands from the Obama administration returning to a region with new orders to revisit old issues.
Their biggest challenges involve policies they personally helped to shape - in places in far worse shape now. But some see openings and opportunities in that.
"They've learned from what went wrong with the Obama administration's approach to the Middle East," observes Kim Ghattas, a non-resident fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and author of the book, Black Wave, on Saudi-Iranian rivalry in the region. "They may take things in a different direction because they've learned from the mistakes, and because the region today is a very different place."
In the top tray of the new administration's foreign files is policy towards Iran. The landmark 2015 nuclear deal by world powers is now dangling by a thread after Donald Trump discarded it and despatched waves of crushing sanctions. There is also the devastating war in Yemen, which Mr Obama initially supported, partly to assuage Saudi anger over the accord with its arch-enemy Iran. continue to read
Secretary of State Confirmation Hearing
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a confirmation hearing for Antony Blinken to serve as secretary of state. Mr. Blinken was questioned about a range of foreign policy issues that included the Iran nuclear agreement, U.S. strategy toward China, the conflict in Yemen, the coronavirus pandemic, the New START arms reduction treaty with Russia, the State Department workforce, immigration policy, strategy toward Russia, U.S. military intervention, and the Keystone XL pipeline.. Mr. Blinken previously served as the deputy secretary of State during the Obama administration. The nominee was introduced by Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL).
Jan 21, 2021
Antony Blinken, President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to be secretary of state, salutes US senators as he arrives for his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.
a Senate confirmation hearing, Blinken says US should have acted sooner as ‘democracy was being trampled’ in Hong Kong
‘I’d like to see us be able to take in some of those fleeing Hong Kong, fleeing the repression, for standing up for their democratic rights’
Jan 20 - US President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to be the secretary of state told Congress on Tuesday that China seeks to become the dominant world power and undermine American interests, the latest sign that the Trump administration’s hardline stance toward an increasingly authoritarian Beijing appears set to continue once the new administration begins on Wednesday.
“I think what we’ve seen in recent years, particularly since the rise of Xi Jinping as leader, has been that the hiding and biding has gone away,” Antony Blinken told lawmakers during his Senate confirmation hearing.
“I also believe that President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China,” he added. “I disagree very much with the way that he went about it in a number of areas, but the basic principle was the right one, and I think that’s actually helpful to our foreign policy.”
Blinken’s comments came just hours after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the Trump administration’s new determination that China was committing crimes against humanity and genocide against the Uygurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minority groups in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region. continue to read