World leaders rush to congratulate Joe Biden

However, there were notable immediate absences of congratulations from Trump’s closest international allies, report Bel Trew, Adam Withnall, Borzou Daragahi and Oliver Carroll

Bel Trew
Middle East Correspondent
Sunday 08 November 2020 04:14
Twitter reacts to Joe Biden winning election
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World leaders rushed to congratulate Joe Biden on winning a nail-biting US presidential election, despite the fact that President Donald Trump has refused to formally concede.

Amid a flurry of congratulatory messages there were some noticeable silences from among both Mr Trump’s closest global allies and Washington’s  staunchest enemies. After the news was called by the US’s biggest television networks on Saturday afternoon, there were no initial official statements issued by Russia, Turkey, Israel, Iran, Hungary Saudi Arabia and China.

The first world leader to break the silence, however, was Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, who made no mention of Mr Trump, with whom he had an often-troubled relationship.

Instead the Canadian leader said he would work with the United States to “advance peace and inclusion, economic prosperity, and climate action around the world” and congratulated both Mr Biden and  Kamala Harris, his running mate, who will become the first woman, the first Black American and the first American of Asian descent to serve as vice president, the country’s No. 2 office.

Several major television networks finally declared Mr Biden’s win on Saturday after a gruelling five-day ballot count saw him push ahead in key swing states.

“I am honoured and humbled by the trust the American people have placed in me and in Vice President-elect (Kamala) Harris,” Mr Biden said on Twitter.

Mr Trump, who has made repeated claims of electoral fraud and insists he has in fact won, accused Mr Biden of “rushing to falsely pose as the winner”.

“This election is far from over,” he said in a statement issued while he was playing golf in Virginia.

But this did not stop many leaders of western nations including those considered long-time allies of the U.S. celebrating Mr Biden’s win. Many had clashed with Mr Trump on security, trade, and numerous multilateral matters, including Washington's withdrawal from the Paris climate accords. During Nato and G7 summits, Mr Trump has repeatedly insulted fellow leaders, hectored officials behind closed doors, and occasionally stormed out of meetings.

In quick succession, statements were released by France, Germany, Spain, Ireland and New Zealand.

“The Americans have chosen their President. Congratulations @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris! We have a lot to do to overcome today’s challenges. Let’s work together!”  French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter. While Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, tweeted “Welcome back America!”

“Good that there’s finally a clear result,” wrote German foreign minister Heiko Maas, “We look forward to working with the next US administration.”

The Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis also congratulated Mr Biden calling him a “true friend of Greece”.

Most of the world's authoritarian or populist leaders who were considered Mr Trump’s ideological fellow travellers were, however, quiet about the impending fall of a man who had empowered and legitimised their brand of right-wing populism.

Turkey, which enjoyed exceptionally warm ties to the White House under Mr Trump, was among those who stayed mum.

Iranian officials -- including the outspoken foreign minister Mohammed Javad Zarif – also issued no statement about Mr Biden’s victory which could mean a return to the nuclear deal negotiated by President Barack Obama while he served as vice president.

Instead Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei called the vote “a spectacle” and “the definitive political, civil & moral decline of the US regime” on Twitter.  

Abbas Mousavi, Iran’s ambassador to Azerbaijan and former spokesman of the Foreign Ministry, on Twitter said “Joe Biden would possibly be just the same as his predecessors.”

In Russia, the Kremlin was also quiet.  In a sign of what might be to come, however Konstantin Kosachyov, Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs released a dismissive post on Facebook declaring Mr Biden’s victory premature as there was “clearly no official result yet”.

“There is no clear, unconditional and convincing winner. What has instead emerged victorious is schism, and mutually exclusive social views on the future of America,” he said.

Saudi Arabia which is close to the Trump administration have also yet to release a statement.

Ali Shihabi, a Saudi analyst who is on the advisory board of one of the mega-projects of the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, said the Gulf generally favoured a Trump win but added “we can live with it”.

“He was unreliable and that scared thoughtful people in the Gulf,” Shihabi added.

In Israel, there was noticeable silence from one of Mr Trump’s closest allies Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been criticised back home for getting too close to Mr Trump and the Republican Party at the detriment of the bipartisan relationship between the two countries. The banner photo of Mr Netanyahu’s official Twitter account remained a picture of himself with Mr Trump.

However Israeli opposition figures and the Palestinian leadership were quick to chime in. Yair Lapid, who had run against Mr Netanyahu across three extraordinary elections in Israel, described Mr Biden as a “friend” in a statement where he made a point of referencing both the Democratic and Republican parties.

Prominent Arab- Israeli member of parliament Ahmad Tibi, meanwhile, heralded the end of the Trump era.

“A White House without Trump should bring a less racist world,” he wrote on Twitter.

Similar sentiment was expressed by the Palestinian leadership, that had cut ties with Mr Trump’s administration two years ago after he formally declared the contested city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Vice president elect, Kamala Harris, alongside president elect, Joe Biden

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian Liberation Organisation official, wrote “America detrumped!” adding that the “world needs to be able to breathe”.

Budapest mayor Gergely Karácsony, who won election against the party of Hungarian strongman Viktor Orban, described Mr Trump as good for the rightwing government but Biden as good for Hungary.

After an initial pause India and Egypt, both exceptionally close to Mr Trump, also followed suit amid speculation about how they would both pivot their messaging in the event of a Democrat win.

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who Mr Trump nicknamed “his favourite dictator” emphasised the “strategic bilateral relations” between the two countries.  

The Indian prime minister, despite cultivating a close friendship with Mr Trump for four years, did not hold back, congratulating Mr Biden on his “spectacular victory”.

We are so relieved

Senior French diplomat

Mr Modi also issued a separate tweet congratulating Kamala Harris, who becomes the first Indian American vice president. “Your success is pathbreaking, and a matter of immense pride not just for your chittis (aunts), but also for all Indian-Americans. I am confident that the vibrant India-US ties will get even stronger with your support and leadership,” he wrote.

Back in Europe, a senior French diplomat described the mood as elated, adding “we are so relieved’.

Among the European priorities now are to conduct damage control during the lame duck period until Mr Biden takes control of the White House on 20 January and prepare for a resetting of relations.

The official predicted Mr Trump’s defeat would trigger a series of consequences that could mean a UK more willing to compromise on Brexit, autocratic leaders in eastern and south-eastern Europe more concerned with human rights violations, and a Russia less “schizophrenic.”

“We are happy to tackle common challenges with a cooperative administration and to deal with differences in a civilised way,” the diplomat added. “We have no illusions of a return to pax americana, and we are conscious that Europeans need to do more.”

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