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Midterms Set To Have Major Impact On US Foreign Policy – OpEd

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By Dalia Al-Aqidi *

As the day of the US midterm elections approaches, the American people are getting ready to cast their votes to decide who will win all 435 House seats, 35 of the 100 Senate seats and 36 out of 50 governors. The midterms are a real test for the president in the middle of his term and are effectively a referendum on his policies. 

The two political parties are seeking to increase their representation in both houses of Congress. The Republicans want to regain control of the Senate and take back the House of Representatives. Meanwhile, the Democrats are looking to maintain their control of the House of Representatives and get absolute sovereignty over the Senate — the parties are currently tied 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris having the tiebreaking vote — so they can pass all the bills and programs of President Joe Biden and support his controversial local policies. 

A victory for the Republicans in the Senate is almost inevitable since Biden is not an electoral asset for the Democrats due to his low approval rating. 

Alan Abramowitz, an Emory University political scientist, told CNN that the Democrats are facing a big problem since things have not gotten better in most people’s eyes, regardless of what they have done in terms of passing legislation and what good this might do in the future. “If inflation had come down from where it has been, they would be in better shape. But you can’t convince people that things are going better when their own experience tells them that it’s not,” he said. 

It would not be unusual if the Democrats did not maintain their position on Nov. 8. It is historically known that, in midterms, voters routinely vote against the incumbent president’s party. Therefore, it is unlikely the Democrats will keep the Senate and will even perhaps lose the House. 

When we look at the current global geopolitical landscape and the struggling international economy, this election will likely expand its impact beyond US borders. If the Republicans take over the Senate, Biden will face significant obstacles in getting approval for his nominees for senior foreign policy positions. 

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, Kyiv has received billions of dollars in military and humanitarian aid from the US, which might change under the right’s leadership. However, it would still be effortless for Biden to bypass Congress to tighten the sanctions on Moscow. 

A Republican-controlled Congress would push for stricter anti-China measures and would put forward more aggressive proposals. With Republicans leading the way, Congress would most likely agree to sell F-16 jets to Turkey, question and limit the US aid to Ukraine, and take a different approach in dealing with the Middle East. 

A GOP-held Congress would also bid to stop the administration’s efforts to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran nuclear deal, and push for a strong stance against the regime in Tehran over its inhuman actions against civilian protesters. 

US-Saudi bilateral relations have worsened during Biden’s first two years in office, but the Republican Party understands the vital role the Kingdom plays in the region, especially in light of the Iranian aggression. Therefore, it is expected that Republican leaders would try to mend these ties and strengthen the cooperation between the two governments.  

The Abraham Accords were the Republicans’ pride and joy under Donald Trump and there would be no doubt that the GOP would continue to push the Biden administration to widen these to include other Middle Eastern countries. However, calling for new countries to normalize their relations with Israel would happen only if or when a Republican president moves into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. 

Having said that, American voters in 2022 have no interest in foreign policy when families are struggling to make ends meet and protect their loved ones from the increasing violence in major US cities. 

  • Dalia Al-Aqidi is a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy. Twitter: @DaliaAlAqidi 

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Arab News is Saudi Arabia's first English-language newspaper. It was founded in 1975 by Hisham and Mohammed Ali Hafiz. Today, it is one of 29 publications produced by Saudi Research & Publishing Company (SRPC), a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG).

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