November 21, 2020


Representative Ilhan Omar: 'I Hope President Biden Seizes This Opportunity.' (Representative Ilhan Omar, 11/21/20, The Nation)

Trump began his presidency by backing out of the Iran nuclear deal, which had been a major feat in diplomacy with buy-in from all five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council--China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States--plus Germany and Iran. The deal was not only notable for the countries that it brought to the table, but for what it prevented: a nuclear-armed Iran that could threaten the United States and risk a global nuclear war.

Nearly every action taken under President Trump has made armed conflict more instead of less likely. Trump imposed crippling sanction after crippling sanction on the Iranian people--depriving them of much-needed medical supplies during a pandemic and further tightening the brutal authoritarian regime's grip on power. He ordered the assassination of an Iranian commander--risking all-out war--earlier this year. As a result of these actions, Iran finally backed out of the nuclear pact that Trump himself had torn up in 2018--and now has 12 times more enriched uranium than would have been permitted under the agreement.

Meanwhile, Trump has cozied up to some of the most notorious human rights abusers in the world, including Saudi Arabia, a regime responsible for some of the worst atrocities of our young century. Under absolute monarch Mohamad bin Salman ("MBS"), Saudi Arabia regularly imprisons, tortures, and kills advocates for human rights and political reform in their own country--especially women's rights advocates. Using US weapons, Saudi Arabia has bombed, blockaded, starved, and slaughtered thousands of Yemeni civilians in its war in Yemen. After resolutions to end US arms sales to Saudi Arabia passed both houses of Congress with overwhelming majorities, Trump vetoed all of them. When MBS was linked to the murder of exiled Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018, Trump bragged that he "saved his ass."

But the shameless celebration of human rights abuses didn't end with Saudi Arabia. In the run-up to the election, Trump brokered so-called "peace deals" between the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Sudan, and Israel. Besides the very well-documented war crimes in Yemen, the UAE has also been credibly accused of committing war crimes in Libya. It is also reportedly paying for child soldiers from the same militia that committed the Darfur genocide, badly undercutting the transition to democracy in Sudan. Bahrain is a brutal dictatorship that summarily executes political dissidents and protesters, including religious leaders; routinely uses torture and arbitrary detention; and targets human rights defenders and women.

Are these the regimes we want to be empowering?

In truth, these aren't peace deals as much as they're arms sale deals to human rights abusers. And they're less about normalizing relations with Israel than they are about forming military alliances against Iran. Proxy wars between Saudi Arabia and Iran continue to rage in Yemen, Syria, and, to some extent, Libya. And these alliances only further align the United States and Israel with the Gulf states in these conflicts. Soon after the UAE deal went through, Trump proposed a staggering $23 billion in arms sales to the UAE, which the administration admitted was linked to the deal.

America should always stand with self-determination, certainly not Wahhabism.

Posted by at November 21, 2020 12:11 PM