President Biden’s unraveling of the Trump administration’s Middle East policy already is well underway, but a prominent elder statesmen is advising him to uphold his predecessor’s “brilliant” realignment of the region’s politics.
Henry Kissinger, who was secretary of state under the Nixon and Ford administrations, praised Trump administration’s strategy of pitting major Sunni Muslim countries against Iran’s Shiite mullah-led regime, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
“I think that one of the great successes of the previous administration was that they had lined up, that they had achieved two things in the Middle East,” Kissinger said Tuesday during the first seminar of a new monthly series from the Richard Nixon Foundation focused on national security and foreign policy.
“One, to separate the Palestinian problem from all of the other problems so that it did not become a veto over everything else — and secondly, of lining up the Sunni states in actual or potential combination against the Shiite states, which is Iran, that was developing a capacity to threaten them,” he said. “I think that this was a brilliant concept. We were just at the beginning of it.”
Kissinger, 97, was joined by former secretary of state Mike Pompeo, former national security advisers Robert O’Brien and Matt Pottinger, and Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis.
Last year, the Trump administration brokered the Abraham Accords between Israel and Muslim-majority countries, including the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Trump also sanctioned Iran in a “maximum pressure” campaign aimed at halting the Iranian nuclear program.
And the Trump administration was on the verge of securing a peace agreement between Israel and Indonesia in its final weeks in office, according to a former senior Trump administration official, Caroline Glick reported in a column Friday
Calling the Biden administration “the most ideologically rigid and radical administration in U.S. history,” the Israel-based foreign affairs specialist said the Indonesia deal would “pay a huge dividend to the US in its burgeoning cold war with China.”
“An expanded strategic and economic partnership with the archipelago and ASEAN member would be a setback for China’s efforts to dominate the South China Sea, particularly with Indonesia playing a role in an Islamic-Israeli alliance led by the US,” she wrote.
The senior official said, “We got the ball on Indonesia and Israel to the [one]-yard line.”
Unfortunately, Glick wrote, “the Biden administration has dropped the ball on the ground and walked off the field.”
‘The risk of losing the two achievements’
At the seminar Tuesday, Kissinger said the Biden administration “should not give up the pressures that exist on Iran until we know where they are heading.”
“If we break out the Iranian issue from the overall Middle Eastern issue, we run the risk of losing the two achievements, namely of separating the Palestinian issue, which removes it as a veto over everything else, and the Sunni cooperation with Israel, which is unique in its openness,” he said.
Already, however, the Free Beacon noted, the Biden administration has appointed Obama-era diplomats who argued for the Iran nuclear deal, including climate czar John Kerry, Iran envoy Robert Malley and nominee for undersecretary of defense Colin Kahl.
Amid strong bipartisan opposition from Congress, the White House has said it still hopes to reengage in nuclear talks with Iran in the coming months.
In February, Biden halted an arms deal with Saudi Arabia and removed the Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen from terror watchlists. Days later, Houthi militants bombed an airport in Saudi Arabia.