Article by Rachel Eliasi Kohan
The inauguration of President Joe Biden has ushered in a renewed hope by the sovereign nations in West Asia. As typified by Iran in particular, Biden’s presidency has opened up a bright window of opportunity where the rule of law, due process, security, justice, socio-economic prosperity and peace, is now more plausible.
President Biden secured the highest number of 81,283,100 votes (51.3%) from the highest number of 159,633,396 ballots ever cast in US election history. However, he must still first restore calm and order at home amid the pandemic in order to earn the trust and support of all Americans including the 46.8% (74,223,000) who voted for Trump as well as the 1.8% (2,873,000) who voted for a third party candidate. Biden must lay out a comprehensive plan of action vis-a-vis the Middle East that is anchored on promoting even-handed human, civil and constitutional rights, as well as political empowerment of all people.
In such a scenario, the US needs a novel and overdue strategic paradigm shift. We should learn lessons from our futile, preemptive and endless military provocations waged during the past twenty years alone, Moving forward, the US must provide a neutral, facilitating and empowering role to support the middle eastern masses. Therefore, a genuine level-handed dialogue will have to trump and replace our usual top down military based approach or attempts to side with despotic, corrupt and unpopular regimes.
The US has since 2015 become the number one producer and exporter of gas and oil worldwide. Therefore, the Middle East is no longer the geo-political and strategic priority it once was in American foreign policy strategy. The need for the US strategic shift in policy is further evident by stagnancy in the world economy and the adoption of alternative renewable energy resources. Even the export of military hardware into the region has lost its lustre, now superseded by cyberwarfare and drone technologies as well as artificial intelligence.
Therefore, with the above economic paradigm shift in the 21st century, the so-called “maximum pressure”, be it militarily, economically and via propaganda, is all but obsolete. Middle Eastern socio-economic development anchored on equal treatment of all those engaged, and reasonable market and profit sharing, is the only path forward.
As to Israel, its security and continued economic progress remain pivotal to that nation and could spur the same in the region as a whole. Similarly, the recognition of a sovereign Palestinian State living peacefully side by side with Israel is far overdue; if the latter remains unfulfilled, the last alternative is to integrate all Palestinians and Israelis into one newly emerged secular and democratic state where each person has one vote.
Sustainable Middle Eastern socio-economic and political progress draws upon an educated and skilled young population and accelerates the process of percolating Islamic reformation that has been taking place in Iran for the past 150 years. In such a scenario, the voluntary repatriation of up to 30 million expats from Iran, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey, Palestine and Israel now scattered across Europe and America becomes possible. Thoughts eloquently expressed by the sage poet Rumi, the 13th century philosopher, “Out between the wrong-doings and right-doings there is a mid-field; let us meet there.”
In summary, the failed and futile era of despotism and irrationality, tyranny and absolutism, favouritism and nepotism, is over. The new era to reaffirm our commitment to the American ideals and values of liberty and freedom, democracy and due process, equality and opportunity, equality and diversity, and justice and peace is now.
Rachel Eliasi Kohan is a naturalized American professor who has resided in the US for four decades; she was born and raised by a multi-lingual family in Iran. As an avid world traveler, her extended family have resided in two dozen countries since the 1970s.
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