The anticipation is over, and the 46th President of the United States has finally been elected. Joe Biden has officially won the presidential race after a heated election that saw a massive voter turnout.
It’s no surprise that the outcome of the US presidential election will have a direct impact on the international political space, especially on the volatile Middle East, not to mention Lebanon, which is currently balancing on the edge of a cliff.
Though US policy toward Lebanon itself will probably remain essentially unchanged, considering that even rivals in US politics have mostly similar approaches to that, the country will certainly be affected by the changes that will take place in the region.
Firstly, unlike Donald Trump’s aggressive policy toward Iran, Biden is likely to be more pragmatic with Iran and restore some stability to US-Iranian relations, similar to how these relations were during former President Barack Obama’s terms.
He is also expected to revive the nuclear deal that was established during Obama’s time as president. This revival will certainly be conditioned by Iran’s commitment to restrict its use of nuclear energy to peaceful, non-military purposes.
This, coupled with a slightly loosened grip on Iran’s economy with expected reduced sanctions, will give space for Iran to regain the expansive momentum it was enjoying nearly a decade ago.
Iranian influence will likely once again grow and strengthen across the Middle East, especially in countries that host its proxies, the most notable of which is Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which has been facing financial challenges exacerbated by Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy.
On the other hand, in regard to Lebanon’s enemy Israel, although Biden’s rhetoric mostly differs from Trump’s in certain aspects, such as in the proposed annexation of the West Bank, his campaign nonetheless promised “ironclad” support for it.
But Biden did promise to provide more aid and political support to the Palestinian Authority and the UN agency for Palestinian refugees after Trump cut the funding in a failed attempt to pressure Palestinians to accept his “deal of the century” and make peace with Israel.
As for direct effects on Lebanon’s internal affairs, the end of the US elections is expected to finally lead to the untangling of the most urgent political issue in the staggering country: The government formation.
Although Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri promised a swift formation after his designation, disagreements among the main parties have put the process to an apparent complete halt that analysts said would remain until after the end of the US elections.
Therefore, Biden’s election is expected to stir things up in the Lebanese political space, in what is being described as the last chance to save Lebanon from its terrible crisis.