Middle East Holds Breath For Trump’s First Move

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The world woke – on the morning of 9th November – to the shocking discovery that Donald Trump had defeated Hillary Clinton in the US Presidential race. A specific region in the world, however, were confronted with a wide range of emotions. Despite him calling to ban all Muslims from entering the US at a point in time, feelings of angst, praise and plain indifference have been conveyed from leaders across the Middle-East, towards the triumphant Republican candidate.


Fears that a Trump administration would reverse Obama’s hard-fought victory for diplomacy back in September 2015, defending the Iranian nuclear deal, have surfaced. The main points of the pacts discussed were relief of the economic and financial sanctions it had been under for almost a decade, immediate decline in uranium and plutonium production, Iran’s entire nuclear programme under verification and inspection, and the resolution of outstanding issues regarding its’ PMD case. Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, has emphasised that despite the USA’s new leadership, Tehran has no plans to change any of its policies and warned that no one government would have the power to dissolve the UN Security Council-backed resolution. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif also urged Trump to respect the agreements that the international community had come to.

Is this laughable advice coming from leaders of a nation that not only violates international law and human rights on a regular basis but also, violates UN Security Council resolutions?

Despite the involvement of five other nations – UK, Germany, France, China and Russia – the talks symbolised the highest level of diplomacy between Iran and the US since the Iranian revolution that led to the overthrow of the Shah in 1979. It does seem however that the Trump administration will be focusing on the deal as one of its first foreign policy issues.

Meanwhile, Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has taken a very different approach to the Trump triumph. The first to congratulate Trump among the Arab leaders, Fattah el-Sisi is the only Arab leader to have met Trump. He claimed the president-elect will ‘pump new life into Egyptian-American ties’ and looked forward to more cooperation and co-ordination that will benefit both the Egyptian and American peoples.’ On the other hand however, the Arab leader seems to be looking fairly favourably on the president-elect’s lenient attitude when it comes to certain human rights. After all, Trump has claimed that ‘torture works’ and despite the Obama administration abolishing such techniques, he will bring back waterboarding and similar interrogation methods. Specifically whilst handling terror suspects.

So does this mean liberal nations are willing to use non-liberal means of violence?

One of the Middle-East’s longest running predicament which the president-elect has not been very upfront about is the Palestine-Israeli conflict. As recently as last month, the Obama administration ‘strongly condemned’ any plans for the Israelis to build new settlements in the West Bank, claiming that such action would undermine the ability to achieve a two-state solution. However, the president-elect does not seem to think that new settlements will impede on peace negotiations despite such actions considered as illegal by international law. This is in stark contrast to earlier on in his campaign when he pledged to be ‘neutral’ should he win.


Perhaps the biggest shock to American ties within the Arab world will come to oil-nation, Saudi Arabia. A large majority of the country were betting on Democratic candidate – Hillary Clinton. After having donated millions to her foundation, her concession to Donald Trump was nothing less than devastating. It was also no surprise that after Trump passed such outrageous and racist comments about the Muslim people that a poll carried out by the Arab Centre for Research and Policy in the US, almost 70 percent said they would prefer Clinton over Trump.


It seems that the Gulf State and their traditional strong ties with the world hegemon may come under serious tension. Trump blasted Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal on Twitter claiming that he wanted to control US politicians with ‘daddy’s money.’ He also bashed Clinton for accepting the donation to the Clinton Foundation due to the fact that the state had ‘poor human rights records.’ He called on her ‘to immediately return the $25 million plus’ she received. Latest investigations revealed however, that a large sum of Trump’s wealth had come from doing major business with and within Saudi Arabia itself. In fact in 2001, it surfaced that the 45th floor of the Trump World Tower was sold to none other than the KSA for a staggering $4.5 million.

All in all, the election of Donald Trump as the President of the United States has created global shock waves. The Middle-East is a major place that we will all be highly scrutinising specifically due to the anti-Islamic rhetoric Trump encouraged during his campaign. In a region where Islam is by far the dominant religion, the ties he will foster and continue to nurture will be extremely interesting for the rest of the world to see.

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