It took only a hundred days for the Harris/Biden administration to blow up one of the most significant foreign policy achievements of the Trump administration: A path for peace in the Middle East.
But as the Hamas rockets fly into Israel, a misguided attempt to seek help from a Middle Eastern leader has come from the White House. Yet it didn’t come from the nominal president Joe Biden, but from his vice president Kamala Harris.
“The Royal Court of Jordan says U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris called King Abdullah II to discuss the ‘efforts to stop the Israeli escalations in East Jerusalem and the aggression on Gaza’,” Newsmax foreign correspondent Alex Salvi tweeted. He cited the Jordanian court.
Kamala Harris filled America in on her phone call with the king.
I spoke with Jordan King Abdullah II to reaffirm our support and express our commitment to continued close cooperation. I briefed him on our intensive diplomatic efforts to support the path to a ceasefire in Gaza. The U.S. and Jordan will continue working to deescalate tensions. pic.twitter.com/IKLiFAaVhl
— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) May 20, 2021
“I spoke with Jordan King Abdullah II to reaffirm our support and express our commitment to continued close cooperation,” Harris wrote on Twitter. “I briefed him on our intensive diplomatic efforts to support the path to a ceasefire in Gaza. The U.S. and Jordan will continue working to deescalate tensions.”
The issue with Kamala Harris making the phone call to Jordan’s king is that she has taken the lead on foreign policy several times before.
“The real story is Kamala Harris, & not the king’s counterpart, calling him about this. Jordan is a major player in this dispute,” Jordan Schachtel observed. “Abdullah II may interpret this as a downgrading of relations. Or he knows Biden is not capable. Either way, not a good signal.”
Although it is not entirely uncommon for vice presidents to be involved in foreign policy, it is unusual for VPs to make important calls to foreign heads of state.
“Just six weeks since taking office, Vice President Harris is playing an integral role in President Biden’s foreign policy, putting her personal stamp on behind-the-scenes debates and on the world stage as she works to advance Biden’s diplomatic agenda,” the Washington Post reported in March. This especially entailed involvement in Middle East deals.
“Harris has spoken independently of Biden to at least six world leaders, the White House says, an unusually large number for a new vice president; joined his virtual White House summit with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; and given remarks at the State Department,” the report continued.
The Washington Post continued on about how Harris’s role has been pivotal in U.S. foreign relations with Iran.
“She was also a vocal participant in deliberations over how to respond to Iran-backed militias’ attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq, as well as whether to sanction Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, White House aides said, according to the Post. Harris was also reportedly upset when she was not notified before the Biden administration’s aitstrike on Syria in February.
Fox News has reported that Biden has spoken to foreign leaders over the burgeoning crisis, however.
“President Biden didn’t speak with King Abdullah but called Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, pledging support of a cease-fire,” FNC reported. “Biden said he spoke with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu six times in recent days and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas more than once, urging an end to the violence.”
Harris’s call to King Abdullah also belies that he blames Israel for retaliating against Hamas for launching rockets into its territory. He characterized the crisis as ‘Israeli escalations,” which is patently false. Hamas has burned through $175 million in rockets in one week, albeit that Iron Dome has intercepted an estimated 90% of them. Although the Biden administration has vowed to replenish the rockets, it also has promised hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to Palestinian refugees through the organization UNRWA.
In April, the Biden administration promised to restore funding to the UNRWA group to the tune of an estimated $290 million, despite concerns about it fueling anti-Semitic extremism and even indirectly funding terrorism.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who presided over the Trump administration’s termination of funding for UNRWA in 2018, explained it is “riddled with waste, fraud, [and] concerns of support to terrorism.”
Biden’s foreign policy decisions have rapidly destabilized the Middle East after his predecessor Donald Trump forged an unprecedented pathway towards peace in the Middle East.
After President Trump forged landmark deals with Israel and UAE and Bahrain, he proclaimed a new “dawn in the Middle East.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the time said, “This day is a pivot of history; it heralds a new dawn of peace.” Their reason is that the deals were truly significant in a historical sense.
“Before the UAE and Bahrain, the only other Arab countries in the Middle East to recognise Israel officially were Egypt and Jordan, who signed peace treaties in 1978 and 1994 respectively,” the BBC noted.
“For decades, most Arab states have boycotted Israel, insisting they would only establish ties after Israel’s dispute with the Palestinian was settled,” its report added. The BBC’s Washington correspondent noted:
These agreements represent the most significant diplomatic achievement of the Trump administration.
Persuading two Arab states to engage in this kind of rapprochement with Israel – without a solution to the Palestinian question – marks a significant move for pan-Arab unity.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian leadership colored the deals as a “black day” for the region. But under the Biden administration, and Kamala Harris’s apparent leadership, it appears that truly “black days” are returning.
OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.