Trump Threatens Apocalypse
Donald J Trump on Friday the 20th of January 2017 became the 45th President of the United States of America and the most powerful man on the planet.
However, the Muslim community worldwide hardly rejoiced at the coming of Trump the demagogue threatening to change the face of the world with a stroke of the proverbial pen from the Oval office in the White House in Washington DC.
Muslims worldwide feel trepidation coupled with a sense of anxiety and unease at the prospect of Trump targeting their way of life. This fear as far as observers is well founded considering several statements made by Trump in the last three years which hardly inspire great enthusiasm for the incoming administration as far as the Muslim community worldwide is concerned.
Only last month, Trump made his pitch by declaring ‘war’ on Muslims and Islam during the inaugural address on Capitol Hill Washington DC when he declared “We will ... unite the civilised world against radical Islamic terrorism which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth”. In March 2015, President Trump told CNN that “Islam hates us” and later defended his comment, saying “large portions of Muslims” have “tremendous hatred” for the West.
It seems that the world has gone back in time to the George W Bush presidency that served America between 2000-2008 during which the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington took place. George W Bush on that occasion declared that ‘this crusade it will take a while’ and for many Muslims especially living in America will be thinking that history is about to repeat itself with dire consequences to follow.
However, we need to ask ourselves what does the Trump administration have in store for Muslims in the next four years. On the domestic front, we can expect to see further measures being passed that will make it harder for Muslims to practice their faith in the guise of reinforcing homeland security. The right-wing press and politicians will no doubt lobby Trump and attempt to castigate Muslims as the ‘fifth column’ and the ‘so called enemy within’ with the aim of trying to outlaw Islam expressed in its current form.
In terms of US foreign policy, the appointment of former military General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis as Defense Secretary clearly sends a message to the Muslims in the Middle East that Trump will attempt to seek and destroy the capabilities of the labyrinth of Jihadist networks operating out of the Middle East and beyond.
It is at this juncture we need to pause and reflect that will heavy handed actions coupled with enhanced rhetoric defeat the so called Islamic State (ISIS) in the medium to long term? Or on the contrary, will we see a repeat of the stirring of the hornet’s nest post-2003 invasion of Iraq that facilitated the yet savage and brutal insurgency claiming many American and Iraqi lives in Al-Anbar province.
The incoming Trump administration will attempt to forge closer links with Putin’s Russia from a strategic perspective to destroy ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra (JN), Ahrar al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam, as the former sees the Sunni bloc as the greatest enemy rather than the Syrian regime or its Shiite proxies namely Hezbollah. However, the problem with this rather simplistic policy is that it comes with the risk of further exacerbating the Sunni-Shiite tensions and conflict that now affects the entire Middle East. One is of the view, that Trump has now decided to abandon the Syrian and Iraqi Sunni populace to bolster Assad and Hezbollah albeit in an indirect manner through closer co-operation and dialogue with the Russians.
Trump, it should be said is playing a game of high stakes by engaging with the Russians in the hope of keeping Assad in power who is increasingly been seen in Washington and London as the best partner to deal with from a bad group of unsavory people. This shift is quite marked from the divergent approach to that taken by Cameron and Obama after the Syrian civil war had started in 2011. The problem with this approach one can argue is that Iran which is seen as the enemy by the US and its proxies namely Hezbollah will possess greater balance of power across the Middle East much to the chagrin of Saudi Arabia that considers itself as the self-styled defender of Sunni Islam. One should not be in any doubt that Trump will use the Shiites indirectly vis a vis Russia to weaken the Sunni influence in the wider Middle East before he and future presidents turn on Iran as it will have become too powerful for it to handle.
It should be said that the greatest beneficiary of the Trump administration’s foreign policy will undoubtedly be the State of Israel which will go from strength to strength knowing that the Yinon Plan is close to fruition and more crucially ensuring that there is no one Arab country that can threaten it in the foreseeable future. The first few days of the Trump administration saw Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu give a high five to President Trump seen by many as a rebuke to former President Barack Obama which no doubt makes the US the good guys again in the eyes of the Israelis. Trump has also demonstrated and underlined his pro-Israeli credentials by giving the green light to the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in a sign that power is shifting from the US to Israel.
In respect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we can expect that Trump will throw his weight behind Netanyahu wholeheartedly and in the process, abandon and sideline President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority (PA). This approach will result in Trump giving the green light to the Israelis to expand settlements on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem which in turn will exacerbate tensions and lead to increased violence in the Occupied West Bank and within Israel itself for that matter.
Four years of Donald J Trump will lead to the polarization in US-Muslim relations where Muslims can expect to be marginalized and increasingly viewed as being the enemy across the world. One can expect to see further tensions especially in the Middle East as a direct result of closer co-operation between the US and Russia but at the same time predict that the Sunni factions that are divided at present will unite under one banner to defend its interests across the wider Middle East. All in all, Trump’s decision to abandon the world in favour of the ‘American First’ ideology underpinned by protectionism and isolationism coupled with dealing with the Jihadists at arm’s length does not bode well for global security in an ever-uncertain world.
By Ibrahim Mustapha