Trump’s first seven days and MENA issues

Nobody should be surprised by President Donald Trump’s Executive Order (EO) actions. He is doing exactly what he promised to do.

Just last week, in his Inaugural Address, Trump stated: “We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital and in every hall of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it's going to be only America first — America first…. The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action.”

What Trump is doing by Executive Order is to set a new bar in order to negotiate real, near term immigration issues that isolates potential illicit crime and terrorist pathways by literally halting the physical movement of peoples and services. He is implementing American nationalism fast and furious, with both physical and non-physical walls and barriers.

The Wall

“The Wall” on the US-Mexico border may become relevant as a symbol in Europe and in other locations in the future. As the European Union falls apart borders will become required across the continent. In the first wave of migrants between 2015-2016, Hungary and the Balkans built fences. Given European alarm at migrant issues, coupled with the high probability of an EU meltdown over 2017 election results and the Brexit, European borders may very well find walls and barriers sprouting up too with rigorous physical and biometric methods.

Trump’s Wall is a model for other borders issues regarding migrants specifically in Europe. In theory, the entire wall concept promotes greater intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to become stronger and to stop criminal transit and transport.

From this thinking, The Wall will become relevant in the coming years as a symbol of steps that must be taken to preserve national integrity and promote national patriotism. These methods and technologies will help secure borders and prevent smuggling and other illicit activity. It should be noted that walls and other high tech monitoring exist on the Arabian Peninsula where protecting national resilience is key.

EO 14 is a violent earthquake in migrant policy with further implications for not only American and European liberalism’s waning hours and the rise of European borders but also fodder for militants – and sympathizers – everywhere

Dr. Theodore Karasik

With specific implications for the MENA region, Trump said at his inauguration: “We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones -- and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth.”

This week’s EO 14 (“Muslim Ban:) falls under the Trump Administration’s potent and uncomfortable rearrangement of global, regional, and local politics surrounding immigration. For Trumpists, America’s model of governance and ideological outlook is antiquated and needs to be updated to a new global reality.

This American president intends to turn the United States from a beacon of hope and support, a home to foreign despair, to a country that is resetting its priorities based on perceptions surrounding what is now a new global uncertainty in order to protect its homeland security. The list of targeted countries may expand despite the uproar within the United States and abroad over this sudden Executive Order.

According to CNN, 134,000,000 are now banned from entering the United States in this possible first wave. We live in a world where MENA’s dysfunction and warfare is manipulated and cajoled by a number of parties in multiple conflicts. No finger-pointing is necessary since everyone is guilty.

Indeed, The New Thirty Year War is about two years old. With Barack Obama’s Administration over, Trump is moving forward with a quick and dirty filtration campaign based on the former administration’s “Muslim-ban” paperwork.

Fodder for militants

EO 14 is a violent earthquake in migrant policy with further implications for not only American and European liberalism’s waning hours and the rise of European borders but also fodder for militants – and sympathizers – everywhere.

Trump Administration foreign policy with Muslim majority countries not mentioned in EO 14 is telling. These are Trump’s partners- Egypt and the GCC. What Trump has done is put a cleavage between those countries mentioned and those not. This fact puts Egypt and the GCC in a tough situation. Not only does Trump’s immigration action put attention of fundamentalists on America but also the Arab countries who are not.

However, nothing is static for long with Trump: Trump officials are now suggesting an expansion of EO 17 to include two major countries in the Middle East. That fact is a significant alert marker and serves notice to all Muslim majority countries. Question that remains is will Muslim-majority countries be subjected to President Trump’s EO 14 ever react in unison?

To be sure, Iran’s response to EO 14 illustrates the “tit-for-tat” mentality of the Islamic Republic. Iraq’s response — duplicating Iran’s reaction – can be interpreted in a number of ways from backing Tehran to exerting some muscle to gain concessions from Washington as Americans in Iraq depend on Iraqi visas.

Last but not least, EO 17, Trump’s order for the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) is to present a concrete plan to destroy Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) within thirty days. With Defense Secretary James Mattis at the helm of the Pentagon, the JCS action plan is going to contain military options with Arab partners in varying, forward leaning roles, with looser rules of engagement.

According to a Jordanian security official “there is likely to be a robust coordination with Russia along the military spectrum (information sharing, humanitarian aid, etc. plus boots on the ground.” Perhaps Jordanian King Abdullah’s forthcoming visit to Washington DC is notable as Amman is now more than ever a key to destroying ISIS.

The past week was only the beginning of Trump’s vision where EOs rage. More are likely to come that will impact MENA issues.
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Dr. Theodore Karasik is a Washington DC-based analyst of regional geo-political affairs. He received his Ph.D in History from UCLA in Los Angeles, California in four fields: Middle East, Russia, Caucasus, and a specialized sub-field in Cultural Anthropology focusing on tribes and clans. He tweets @tkarasik.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 14:00 - GMT 11:00
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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