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Thu 1 Aug 2019 09:07 AM

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Video: Boris Johnson - boon or bane for the Middle East explained

So much has been happening in the UK with dicey Brexit negotiations, former Prime Minister Theresa May's resignation, the month-long battle between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt to be the new Conservative Party leader, and finally Johnson being declared the new British Prime Minister.

But is that a boon or a bane for the Middle East?

Obviously, Johnson’s main focus will be on Brexit and uniting his party before looking to cement a specific Middle East strategy.

What’s his stand on Brexit? He had said that he is determined to take the UK out of the European Union on October 31, if necessary without a deal.

But let’s just back up here a little.

If you remember, Johnson did have to deal with the Middle East when he was Foreign Secretary back in 2016 and I wouldn’t call his stint particularly successful.

He has made some inflammatory comments about Muslims, hasn’t mastered his brief in cases and has shown a propensity to misspeak on a few occasions.

But now that he is PM, one of the first tests he will face is determining how to respond to Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged tanker and attempts to impede ships in the Strait of Hormuz.

If and when that is taken care of, he will have to look into ‘fast-tracking’ ongoing trade and investment discussions with the GCC countries.

There’s another thing – the Israel-Palestine issue.  While the Trump administration has pushed the "Deal of the Century", the UK has not been particularly active on the issue recently.

Now let’s take a look at his team’s stance on the Middle East.

Priti Patel – Home Secretary

She was embroiled in a scandal in 2017 after she went on an unauthorised trip to the occupied Golan Heights and met with numerous Israeli officials. The scandal, branded a “serious breach of the ministerial code” by an opposition MP, led to her resignation from her role as international development secretary.

Sajid Javid – Chancellor

The most powerful politician of Muslim background in the UK once told a meeting of the Conservative Friends of Israel that if he had to live anywhere in the Middle East it would be Israel. He has also taken a heavy hand against Israel’s enemies.

Ben Wallace – Defence Secretary

In 2011, at the height of US sanctions on Iran, he warned during a meeting of the group that sanctions “do not work” and said that “Iran should be one of our natural partners in the region and that we should be seeking to ensure that Iran becomes a firm friend”.

Michael Gove – Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

In December 2008 he described the invasion of Iraq as a “proper British foreign policy success” and shouted “disgrace” at British MPs whose votes defeated government plans to bomb Syria in 2013 in the wake of the chemical weapons attack in eastern Ghouta.

In 2015 he did, however, take the unusual step of scrapping a £5.9m ($7.1m) deal to provide development programmes in the Saudi prison system after concerns were raised about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.

(Source: Arabianbusiness.com YouTube channel)