Representative Ilhan Omar: ‘I Hope President Biden Seizes This Opportunity.’

This month we begin the transition from a Trump era to a new presidency based on peace and cooperation. There is no area where this renewed vision is needed more than foreign policy. Trump has mocked, mocked and burned bridges with our allies, while also teaming up with some of the most brutal dictatorial regimes in the world – especially those in the oil-rich Middle East. The damage done by the Trump administration is profound and requires hard work and a clear understanding of the extent of the damage to repair it. Since foreign policy is primarily determined by the executive branch, President Biden has a tremendous opportunity to reorient our foreign policy in the region.

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

Almost every action under President Trump has made armed conflict more than less likely. Trump imposed a crippling sanction after imposing a crippling sanction on the Iranian people – by depriving them of much-needed medical care during a pandemic and further exacerbating the power of the brutal authoritarian regime. Earlier this year he ordered the assassination of an Iranian commander who risked an all-out war. As a result of these actions, Iran finally stepped back from the nuclear compact that Trump himself tore apart in 2018 – and now has 12 times more enriched uranium than would have been allowed under the agreement.

Meanwhile, Trump has teamed up with some of the world’s most notorious human rights abusers, including Saudi Arabia, a regime responsible for some of the United States worst atrocities of our young century. Under the absolute monarch Mohamad bin Salman (“MBS”), Saudi Arabia regularly imprisons, tortures and kills lawyers for human rights and political reforms in its own country – especially women’s rights activists. Using US weaponsSaudi Arabia bombed, blocked, starved and slaughtered thousands of Yemeni civilians in its war in Yemen. After the resolutions to end U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia overwhelmingly passed both houses of Congress, Trump vetoed them all. When MBS was linked to the murder of exiled Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018, Trump boasted that he had “saved his ass.”

However, the shameless celebration of human rights violations did not end with Saudi Arabia. In the run-up to the elections, Trump brokered so-called “peace agreements” between the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Sudan and Israel. Besides the very well documented War crimes in YemenThe United Arab Emirates have also been credibly charged with war crimes Libya. It is ostensible too pay for child soldiers from the same militia that committed the genocide in Darfur and severely undercut the transition to democracy in Sudan. Bahrain is a brutal dictatorship that summarizes political dissidents and demonstrators, including religious leaders; routinely uses torture and arbitrary detention; and is aimed at human rights defenders and women.


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