Global Migration & Politics
Analysis and commentary on the politics of the Middle East, of the power games that defines the region, and the economic, religious and ethnic problems the region is often facing.

Welcome to the Middle East Mr. President

In the wake of the alleged US presidential election, there is a whole world that awaits the coming President Donald Trump’s design of a real policy. This is also the case in the Middle East. What will the new president mean for the region and especially for the cooperation with the United States? What future role will the United States play in the Middle East, which is affected by war and state collapse? The answers to these questions will be crucial for the future of the region.

When President Barack Obama joined the presidency eight years ago, his position and status in the Middle East was different than it will be for January when he resigns. At that time, the new president was received with open arms from a region that had high hopes for his policy. He was on a tour of the region and talked about new times and attitudes in relation to the policy for which Georg W. Bush had been in charge. In particular, his landmark Cairo speech was highlighted as one that signaled a new – more positive – relationship with the Islamic world in particular.

Today, the truth is that the outgoing president is hated in the Middle East, and many in the region are regarded as an even worse president than Georg W. Bush. Because, although Bush started the war in Iraq, it has been Obama’s task to complete the work. And, for the most part, that work has not been done particularly well in an Middle East optic.

First and foremost, Obama is supposed to have embraced the formation of the Islamic state with its policy.

But the list of US failures in the region is long; As said, the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq created a void that allowed the Islamic state to come. The bombing of Libya and the assassination of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi left a country on the brink of collapse, with tribes and other chaos, while the Islamic State was quietly and without care in the area. The passivity to the Syrian regime’s crimes against its own people has left a country in ruins. The subsequent catastrophic situation with civil war, inconceivable suffering and the biggest refugee crisis in the region ever. Add to that the still lack of peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. There is soon no country in the region that does not notice the effects of American politics during Obama’s eight years at the helm. Even though all the conflicts naturally can not be attributed to the United States, but also about the countries themselves.

Only success story is Iran

The only success story Obama can demonstrate is the agreement with Iran about the country’s nuclear weapons. An agreement that, of course, benefits Iran. But not really the region as such. For the agreement, it has just given Iran even more confidence and strengthened the country in a basic belief in its role as ideological chief and authority for the entire region. This only contributes further to the eternal power struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran. And in this battle, all the tricks apply, including the use of the classic sectarian weapon. Namely the struggle between Sunni and Shia Islam. If the two countries decide to intensify this battle further, the outcome could be even more turmoil throughout the region where Sunni and Shi Muslims will fight each other. All in order to serve only the powers of two power poles: a consolidation of power for Saudi Arabia and Iran, respectively.

This agreement is now uncertain after the forthcoming President Trump has announced that the agreement should be canceled and renegotiated if not only canceled.

Let me make it clear: Of course, each of these countries has mentioned a fundamental responsibility, even to get on. Blaming the United States for all these accidents is far too simple and unexpected. But Obama’s passivity in Iraq and Syria has laid the clue of relationships that the countries themselves have not been able to handle. They have neither had economic, socio-political means nor democratic traditions to avoid these crises. Obama’s proactive efforts in Libya were similarly disastrous. Removing a dictator like Muammar Gaddafi requires a definite follow-up plan.

It is not enough to remove a tyrant if you do not secure the necessary tool for the subsequent construction work of a new nation. You do not hear much about the Libyan collapse in the media. After all, there are so many other warships to cover. It does not make the tragedy less.

The question, however, is whether Middle Eastern leaders can afford to play in favor of President Trump. It’s hardly possible.

In this light, the Middle East may see Donald Trump as a new and different bid for a US agenda in the region. Trump will stand for many of the region’s leaders for all that Barack Obama has not been responsible for. A bid for a different approach to the Middle East and its built-in conflicts.
But with Donald Trump as American president, the Middle East wants to relate to a leader of the Western world who, during his election campaign, freely proposed entry ban on Muslims in the United States. And in his optics, there is not the big nuance difference between Muslims and terrorists in general. He also announced during his campaign that he was well on the verge of bombing Syria. Such statements could in themselves speak for a somewhat strained relationship between the region and the new president.

The question, however, is whether Middle Eastern leaders can afford to play the moped. They hardly have it.

Trumps love for strong leaders

Trump’s relationship and view of the Middle East are not so well-defined yet – like much of his political program in general. When Egypt’s president Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi met with Trump in New York in September 2016, the meeting met characterized by mutual joy and pleasure. According to Trump, President Sisi was a very nice guy. Egyptian officials subsequently told of a very good chemistry between the two gentlemen.

President Sisi likewise explained that Donald Trump had agreed that US and Egypt would once again become strategic partners and that he would support Sisi in his fight against Islamic terrorists and radicalism. There are sweet words in the ears of every tyrant. On the whole, Trump has a taste for so-called strong leaders. He has not hid his admiration for Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, to be a strong man. Therein implicitly supports Russia’s support to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, and the continued Russian bombing of Syria.

Saudi Arabia’s desire to maintain its position as key strategic partner

It is unclear what a President Trump’s attitude to Saudi Arabia and Iran will be. An immediate command will be that he will probably find these countries and their leaders the most strange to people in long terms. That they both have oil and love to buy American weapons will probably appeal to his merchant’s gen. In addition, ignorance about the internal power struggles of these two countries can ultimately speak to the benefits of these two countries, thus continuing their own own agenda in the region without further interference from the American president. However, the usual briefing process will naturally put in and the deep knowledge of the US State Department will likely be conveyed to the President, who will then show if he is able to record it.

From a Saudi Arabian point of view, the primary goal in relation to the new US President will primarily be to maintain his position as the region’s most important strategic partner for the United States. In this light, Trump’s outcome to the Muslim world is of secondary importance.

What about Iran?

For Iran, the matter is more unclear. During his election campaign, Trump stated that he was strongly against the lifting of sanctions against Iran . He has, as mentioned, further pleaded that some of the first thing he will do as American president is to renegotiate the deal with Iran. In an interview with CNN earlier this year, Trump stated that the US instead of having entered into an agreement with Iran should have further strengthened sanctions against the country.

Paradoxically, this view speaks Iranian hardlinered </ em> case. The political opposition in the country has been against the US-Iran agreement because it allegedly imposes on the Iranians and under Western control. In other words, there is common ground between Trump and the right-wing spectrum of Iranian politics.

Time to the roar bank, anyone?

Syria and Islamic State may well expect a round of bankruptcy in one way or another. At the same time, it is paradoxically quite crowned days for bad types such as Islamic State and the like.

A President Trump, who has so far played a violent rhetoric against Muslims, is water on Islamic State mill . So, even though the days of the group are spoken in Iraq and Syria, there is nothing in theory that they can resurrect in a south-eastern Middle East if the anti-Muslim rhetoric is maintained for a sufficiently long and persistent period.

Peace of Israel

Although Trump has repeatedly appeared in its election campaign with clear antisemitic remarks, he has yet expressed repeatedly how much he loves the state of Israel.

On the whole, there is some confusion in Trump’s announcements in relation to possible support for Israel. At one point, Trump stated that he saw himself as the neutral party in the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Just that announcement was not received with kisses from Israel. Shortly thereafter, he announced that a peace agreement was primarily dependent on Israel’s goodwill and desire for such a. It was also not well received in Tel Aviv.

Like an elephant in a glass store

On the whole, Trump seems to have behaved like the well-known elephant in a glass store when it’s about the hard art of committing in the Middle East and the region’s many twisted angles of friends, enemies, constellations and political, religious and ethnic groups .

The worst thing that can happen to the region may be if Trump would really get a taste to play with the muscles facing difficult crisis situations in the region. They are known for many of them.

The best for the Middle East might be, in fact, if Trump is so busy building a wall against Mexico in the next four years, he simply does not have time to relate to the region, but leaves the cases to his officials. However, it will be a role for the United States, which has not been seen before, and is hardly long-term.

Image Source: – The image shows Donald Trump and his daughter, Ivanka, visiting Dubai at the launch of a construction project by a country club named Akoya in 2014.

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