Menendez' successor to change U.S. policy for Turkey
According to a report by The New Arab, the U.S. foreign policy landscape will undergo notable changes as Maryland Senator Ben Cardin steps into chairperson of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, succeeding the indicted Sen. Bob Menendez. Cardin, known for his distinct views, especially on issues relating to Egypt and Turkey, is hinting at recalibrating the United States' stance on sensitive global issues.
Menendez was indicted for accepting bribes, including cash and gold bars, allegedly using his esteemed position to influence U.S. policy decisions in favor of Egypt's autocratic regime. However, the entrance of Cardin, a seasoned Maryland Democrat, signifies a "pinch yourself" moment, marking the beginning of an era where stringent policies might soften.
One of the pressing issues on Cardin's table is the Biden administration's earlier decision to override a human rights prohibition on a portion of this year's military aid to Egypt. Cardin had condemned this move. Now, with the reins of the committee in his hands and the power to place holds on some funding and sales, he is "looking at his options," promising hearings before making any decisive moves.
Turkey, a NATO ally, is another nation under Cardin's lens. The sale of F-16s to Turkey had been blocked repeatedly, a move supported by Menendez, who cited concerns about the balance of air power between Turkey and Greece and Turkey's human rights record. However, Cardin has shown a willingness to revisit this issue, which aligns with Turkey's linkage of its approval for Sweden's NATO membership to the acquisition of these warplanes.
The Turkish media, especially outlets close to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have observed the U.S. Senate's developments. The changing guards and potential policy shifts underline the committee's profound influence on global affairs, including the delicate geopolitical balances in the Middle East.
In another development, Cardin has expressed a distinct interest in the efforts to broker diplomatic ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia. He labels this initiative as a potential "significant change in the region." Yet, the seasoned Senator underscores the necessity for any U.S.-Saudi agreement to adhere to the highest standards, with pronounced "guardrails."
Saudi Arabia's troubling human rights record is not lost on Cardin. He remains insistent that these issues must be addressed meticulously. With a short tenure ending in January 2025 and no plans for reelection, Cardin's stint as chairperson is expected to be marked by decisive actions and potentially transformative policy shifts.