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Middle East leaders react to Joe Biden winning US election

Countries such as Egypt and the UAE, which had warm ties with the Trump administration, were among the first to welcome the announcement
Biden was projected to have obtained the necessary 270 electoral votes needed to win his hard-fought matchup with Trump.
Biden was projected to have obtained the necessary 270 electoral votes needed to win his hard-fought match-up with Trump (AFP)
By in
Washington

Leaders in the Middle East have begun congratulating Joe Biden on winning the US election after several media outlets called the presidential race in his favour.

Biden, 77, was projected to have obtained the necessary 270 electoral votes needed to win the hard-fought match-up with incumbent Donald Trump, CNN, the AP and other major news outlets reported.

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Trump has refused to concede defeat and vowed to pursue legal challenges in several battleground states.

"We all know why Joe Biden is rushing to falsely pose as the winner, and why his media allies are trying so hard to help him: they don't want the truth to be exposed. The simple fact is this election is far from over," Trump said in a statement.

"I will not rest until the American People have the honest vote count they deserve and that Democracy demands."

Here's how some leaders in the region have reacted to the news:

Egypt

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who has had warm relations with the Trump administration, said he "looks forward to joint cooperation and work to enhance strategic relations" between the two countries.

In July, Biden issued a stern warning to Sisi, saying if elected president there would be "no more blank checks for Trump's 'favourite dictator'."

Iran

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said that the next US administration had an opportunity to "compensate for its previous mistakes" following Biden's victory.

"Now there is an opportunity for the future American administration to compensate for its previous mistakes and return to the path of adherence to international commitments," Rouhani said in a statement on his official website.

Iran's vice-president said he hoped Biden's administration would bring an end to "destructive US policies," Iranian state media reported.

"I hope we will see a change in the destructive policies of the United States, a return to the rule of law and international obligations and respect for nations," Eshagh Jahangiri was quoted as saying by Iranian state media.

Iranians "stood their ground bravely until that coward left," Hesameddin Ashena, an adviser to Rouhani, tweeted, referring to Trump and the sanctions his administration has imposed on the Islamic Republic.

Iraq

Iraqi President Barham Salih extended his congratulations to Biden, calling him a "friend" and "trusted partner".

"Joe Biden [is] a friend and trusted partner in the cause of building a better Iraq. We look forward to working to achieve our common goals and strengthening peace and stability in the entire Middle East," Salih tweeted on Saturday.

Biden, while vice president in the Barack Obama administration, had been given the task of ending the US war in Iraq in 2009. 

Israel

On Sunday, several hours after many world leaders had already congratulated Biden, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated the new US president-elect, hailing a strong alliance that could be burdened by differences over policy on Iran and the Palestinians.

In a tweet, Netanyahu praised the pair's "long & warm personal relationship for nearly 40 years" and called Biden "a great friend of Israel". At the time of the tweet, Netanyahu's account still carried a photograph of him and Trump at its head.

In a subsequent tweet, Netanyahu thanked Trump, for his personal support and for "recognizing Jerusalem and the Golan [and] for standing up to Iran".

Jordan

Jordan's King Abdullah II offered his congratulations to Biden, and said that he wanted to advance the "historic partnership" between the US and Jordan.

"I look forward to working with you on further advancing the solid historic partnership between Jordan and the United States, in the interest of our shared objectives of peace, stability and prosperity," the Jordanian monarch said.

Lebanon

Lebanese President Michel Aoun voiced hope that Biden would "restore balance" in the Lebanese-US ties, Lebanon's state National News Agency NNA reported.

Oman

Oman's Sultan Haitham bin Tariq al-Said congratulated Biden on winning the US presidential election, the state news agency reported.

The sultan sent a letter to Biden that expressed "his sincere congratulations for winning the confidence of the American people and for his election as president of the upcoming presidential term".

Palestine

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday called on Biden to "strengthen" relations between the Palestinians and Washington, which collapsed during Trump's term in office.

In a statement congratulating Biden, Abbas urged the incoming administration "to strengthen the Palestinian-American relationship," to strive for "peace, stability and security" in the Middle East and to "achieve freedom, independence, justice and dignity for our people".

Palestinian Liberation Organisation leader Hanan Ashrawi tweeted "America Detrumped" following the announcement that Biden had secured the presidency.

"The world also needs to be able to breathe," she added.

"Trumpism must be carefully scrutinised and remedied to restore the human, moral and legal equilibrium within and beyond the US."

Qatar

Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani congratulated Biden and Harris, saying he looked forward to keep strengthening the close relations between the two countries.

"Congratulations to President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris. My best wishes to the people of the United States and I look forward to working together to continue strengthening the friendship between our countries," he tweeted.

Saudi Arabia

At the time of writing on Sunday, Saudi Arabia was the only Gulf nation not to have congratulated Biden on his victory, choosing instead to offer congratulations to the king of Cambodia on the anniversary of his country's independence and the Tanzanian president on his re-election. 

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's close personal ties with Trump had provided a vital buffer against a tide of international criticism over Riyadh's rights record, sparked by the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the kingdom's role in Yemen's war and the detention of women activists.

Those areas may now become points of friction between Biden and Saudi Arabia, a major oil exporter and buyer of US arms.

Biden had pledged in his campaign to reassess ties with the kingdom, demanding more accountability over Khashoggi’s killing in Saudi Arabia's Istanbul consulate and calling for an end to US support for the Yemen war.

Sudan

Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok congratulated Biden and Harris "on behalf of the Sudanese people".

"Looking forward to working closely with them both to continue building bridges of friendship and cooperation between our two nations and countries," Hamdok tweeted.

Turkey

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said that Biden's victory would not change relations between the old allies, although Ankara would keep pressing Washington on Syria and other policy differences.

"Nothing will change for Turkey," Oktay said. "The channels of communication will work as before, but of course there will be a transition period." 

'We experienced a coup attempt. The person who carried this out is in the United States. There is nothing more natural than asking for his extradition'

- Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay

He said that Turkey would press the next US administration to abandon support for Kurdish militant groups in Syria, and to extradite US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen - who, according to Ankara, orchestrated a failed coup in 2016 - which Washington has refused to do.

"We experienced a coup attempt. The person who carried this out is in the United States. There is nothing more natural than asking for his extradition," Oktay said. "This is a process that began earlier and it will continue with this administration. We will increasingly continue our pressure."

Another issue between the allies has been Turkey's purchase of Russian missile defence systems, for which Ankara is facing US sanctions. Trump's administration has so far avoided imposing sanctions, and Oktay said on Sunday that Ankara hoped Biden's administration would also refrain from unilateral steps.

"The new administration's approach will surely affect us and interest us. We are following this very closely. Our expectation is that they refrain from unilateral approaches," he said.

United Arab Emirates

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan said that he hoped for "further development and prosperity for the American people" in his congratulatory message to Biden and Harris.

"Congratulations to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on winning the US elections. Our sincere wishes for further development and prosperity for the American people," he tweeted.

"The UAE and USA are friends and allies with a strong historic partnership that we look forward to strengthening together."

Yemen

Yemen's President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi congratulated Biden on his victory, saying he aspired to strengthen and develop his relationship with the US.

In a statement released by the president's office, Hadi "expressed his sincere congratulations and best congratulations to his Excellency on this occasion... wishing him good health and happiness and the friendly government and people of the United States of America progress and prosperity".

Meanwhile, Hani bin Breik, the vice president of Yemen's separatist Southern Transition Council, said the STC would work with "our American friends to counter terrorism and extremism in all its forms".