By Simon Albaugh
Detroit, Mich. – This year, above any other, Arab Americans are being viewed by politicians as a voting bloc with their own unique and diverse interests in the sphere of National U.S. Politics. While Trump has floundered this demographic with what many would see as offensive social media messaging and campaign ads that employ damaging stereotypes, the Biden campaign has organized a number of townhalls and foreign policy discussions specifically catering to Muslim Americans.
In one of the most recent of those events, Senior Foreign Policy Analyst Brian McKeon sat down with Biden campaign surrogates to talk about the former Vice President’s intentions for working to end the conflict in Yemen. The conversation depended on people within Metro Detroit’s Yemeni community asking questions and letting Biden campaign representatives know what they want to see in the prospective president’s foreign policy.
Brian McKeon has a long career working both in foreign policy and defense, and working for Joe Biden throughout his career. Going back to when Biden was a Delaware Senator in 1983, and all the way to Biden’s Vice Presidency, Brian McKeon has worked as a foreign policy advisor for the longtime elected official.
Although the political and humanitarian situation in Yemen has been difficult to predict, the focus of the event was for the Biden Campaign to try and display a commitment to the Yemen Peace cause. The goal may have been to show voters who are most interested in the country’s conflict how they would work to handle it.
“It’s hard for me to say exactly what the plan would be, because we don’t know exactly what the situation is that we’ll inherit even in three or four months,” McKeon said. “It could look a little bit different than today, but the broad principle would be to continue to support a sovereign and united Yemen and not agree with those who may want to see a division of the country… That’s not going to be easy after six years of war.”
With the complexity of the situation in Yemen, McKeon says there’s a complicated network of stakeholders who are at the center of resolving the conflict. Arms dealers, the Saudi, Emirati and Iranian Governments, and even the factions of governmental services in the North and South of Yemen; all may need to be a part of resolving the humanitarian crisis in the Gulf Country.
The goal would be using diplomacy to bring the various stakeholders together for a common solution, a process that has repeatedly been implemented and abandoned as the country’s conflict continued.
“It’ll take some diplomatic work that’s been absent in the Trump administration to try to push forward,” McKeon said. “It’s obviously not something we can do in a month. But it’s certainly something we will focus on early, because we will have to go through this review with a relationship with the Saudis, and then the pause on the arm sales. There’ll obviously be pressure from the Saudis and others and from US companies that sell these weapons.”
There is a sense of urgency for the Biden campaign. As some members of the public gave their questions and communicated their concerns to the Biden Campaign representatives, McKeon reassured those in attendance that this would be a primary concern for a Biden Administration. Although it won’t be on the agenda for the first month, McKeon says they’re “not going to wait till the second half of 2021.”
“That’s something we would do early in his administration.”