The most critical US presidential elections in decades are taking place this week between Republican candidate and incumbent President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate and former US vice-president Joe Biden. It is projected that a record number of voters will turn out to vote in these elections, as early voting recorded unprecedented numbers of votes, surpassing 87 million by 30 October.
The two candidates have been vehemently campaigning in almost all of the 50 states, with both candidates taking part in heated debates that have witnessed the exchange of corruption accusations and name-calling. Each campaign has declared that it has been winning ground in the days leading up to polling day on 3 November.
National polls across the country are indicating a slight edge in favour of Biden; however, if history is any indication these polls may not matter much, as the last presidential elections in the US witnessed a victory by Trump over former secretary of state and Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016. That said, the Democratic Party has stepped up its campaigning for the 2020 elections much more than it did in 2016, with most of the mainstream media in the US also supporting Biden this year.
Unlike the claims in the mainstream US media, both candidates have pools of supporters that are quite diverse. But one element in particular has become obvious, which is the undying support by Islamist groups in the United States and abroad for Biden. While there is a significant number of Muslim voters with no political affiliations that supports Biden, his endorsement by Islamist groups in the US affiliated with the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood group has been enormous.
The Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated group the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) has endorsed Biden in the elections and is seeking broader Muslim support for the Democratic candidate. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. This group, along with others such as the US Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), is simply a façade for the Muslim Brotherhood, which operates in the United States under different names and through different entities. Most of these groups claim that they are legitimate representatives of Muslims in the US, which is a complete fallacy. The Muslim Brotherhood leadership has been planning since the late 1980s to infiltrate American political circles, and it seems to be reaping the rewards of that policy at the moment.
Biden is favoured by Islamist politicians such as Somali-born US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who is not shy of being best friends with radical elements of the Muslim Brotherhood in the US such as activist Mohamed Sultan and others. Sultan and other Muslim Brotherhood elements in the US ironically present themselves as “human-rights activists,” and they are not shy about spreading their venom and supporting terrorism in Egypt and other countries in the Middle East fighting vehemently against jihadist and Islamist terrorism. Biden has also blindly echoed false accusations about the situation in Egypt and the Middle East based on fabricated Brotherhood material that the group feeds to a number of controversial human-rights groups.
Biden has not hesitated in backing false claims propagated by Islamist politicians in the US of alleged human-rights violations in Egypt, even as the information he receives is from Islamist groups he has been using as a way to make American Muslims vote for him. According to official figures, Muslims represent nearly 3.45 million out of the total 328 million US population. Biden is banking on the votes of at least one million of these Muslims in the presidential elections.
Historically, Arab and Muslim voters in the US have leaned towards Republican candidates, whether in local or presidential elections. There are even polls conducted by the CAIR itself that indicate that the Muslim preference for the Republicans has increased by 12 per cent over the past two years. However, these polls are usually conducted in sample groups of less than one thousand people, and it is hard to project how US Muslims and Arabs will vote as a whole on 3 November.
Moreover, Trump is more popular among most Arab leaders than previous US president Barack Obama. The Middle East has not seen the outbreak of new conflicts during Trump’s presidency, and ongoing ones have seen some de-escalation in the past couple of years. Since 1994, there has been no major achievement in the Arab-Israeli conflict, with the status quo largely reigning in the region. However, this year three countries, the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan, signed peace treaties with Israel and ended the decades-old conflict, and this should pave the way for a final settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian-Israeli one.
Such policies pursued by Trump have gained him popularity in countries in the Middle East, especially among citizens of countries that have good relations with the US, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and others. It has yet to be seen if Trump’s popularity in these countries will be reflected in the votes of the citizens of these countries who hold American citizenship.
As vice-president to Obama, Biden was in office in the US when Islamists, including the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis, attempted to take the helm in many Middle Eastern countries after the 2011 Arab Spring Revolutions, resulting in a decade of unprecedented chaos in many of the countries of the region. Biden was also a supporter of the Iran nuclear deal, which enabled the Iranian regime to regain some of its economic strength, then translated into its backing of Iran-affiliated terrorist groups in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. Iran still threatens the Arab Gulf countries of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain almost on a weekly basis, while also attempting to threaten their security by financing local and foreign terrorists.
Should Biden be elected on 3 November and choose to walk the path of former president Obama in his foreign policies, he will risk alienating and ruining relations with a number of key allies of the US in the region, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and play into the hands of hostile ones such as the Iranian regime.
At the moment, both candidates are at loggerheads with almost completely opposite programmes, strategies and plans on how to rule the United States for the next four years. The stakes are high, and the results of the elections could indicate major geopolitical changes, particularly in the United States and other regions of the world, especially the Middle East. This would be the case especially if Biden wins, leading to possibly another round of Islamist-supporting policies in the Middle East, unless he has learned from the political blunders of Obama in the region.
Unfortunately, all the indications thus far are that he has not learned such lessons.
*The writer is a political analyst and author of Egypt’s Arab Spring and the Winding Road to Democracy.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 5 November, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly