US election? For Arabs it doesn’t matter who wins

Of all the US presidential campaigns, this one stands out as the most vicious

Khaled Almaeena

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The moment of truth for Americans and the world will be decided on November 8. In the coming weeks, the frenzy of the election campaign between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will reach an all-time high. Of all the US presidential campaigns, this one stands out as the most vicious.

Accusations are hurled, innuendos made and even the personal honesty of the candidates is questioned. The television screen has become a gladiator’s arena! Both candidates have encouraged their supporters to go for each other’s throat.

Watching the campaign in its entirely gives you a feeling of sitting in the front row of a circus. Trump is quite a performer. He insults without inhibition. He plays the joker knowing that there are those who are fighting for him who will be disappointed if he does not.

“Is he sadistic?” asked a Gulf national. “Why does he shoot himself in the foot?” wondered another. Trump spent five days making fun of Khizr Khan the Muslim American whose son was killed in Iraq. He was cruel and insensitive. This cost him a lot of support among veterans.

On the other hand, Hillary Clinton was on a tour making economic appeals to a wide group of potential voters many of whom were undecided about her because of past scandals that included Benghazi, emails and undisclosed sources of funding that many thought came from Arab countries.

Trump has increased the level of paranoia and xenophobia in American society. What will come next no one knows

Khaled Almaeena

Opportunity to ridicule

Trump has not missed any opportunity to ridicule Clinton who is also appealing to different ethnic groups in the US who are nervous because of Trump’s rhetoric of hate which many feel has led violence especially against Muslims. On August 13, an imam of a New York mosque and his assistant were gunned down in broad daylight and left for dead as they walked near their mosque.

In another case, a churchgoing Lebanese Christian Arab was shot dead at point blank range by a person shouting “dirty Arab”. Many Sikhs have been assaulted; they are targeted because of the turban they wear. An Emirati man was badly roughed up at an Ohio hotel after a receptionist, described as dumb by her colleagues, claimed that she “overheard” him state his pledge of allegiance to ISIS.

There have also been several cases of Muslim passengers delayed by hyper-sensitive flight attendants. And in one case, a young Italian mathematics professor was dragged off a plane because a fellow passenger was made afraid by his mysterious scribbling on a notepad.

Trump has increased the level of paranoia and xenophobia in American society. What will come next no one knows.

“So what does it mean for us in the Gulf?” one student asked. “Well, we don’t really matter,” another answered. Apart from initially paying homage to Israel and bowing down before the Israeli lobby, Clinton now has no time but to blunt Trump’s attacks. Whoever wins will not have much time to think about our interests, nor will they care about past relations with the countries of the Arab world.

American politicians are pragmatic when it comes to their interests, which are mainly oil, political and economic hegemony and strengthening Israel’s hold on the Middle East. They cannot look further than that.

For us to think otherwise would be an exercise in foolishness. Whoever comes to the White House will only serve their own agenda. So my dear Arabs, please don’t assume anything else. We have never been on the US radar screen nor will we ever be.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on Aug. 21, 2016.
Khaled Almaeena is a veteran Saudi journalist, commentator, businessman and the editor-at-large of the Saudi Gazette. Almaeena has held a broad range of positions in Saudi media for over thirty years, including CEO of a PR firm, Saudi Television news anchor, talk show host, radio announcer, lecturer and journalist. As a journalist, Almaeena has represented Saudi media at Arab summits in Baghdad, Morocco and elsewhere. In 1990, he was one of four journalists to cover the historic resumption of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Russia. He also traveled to China as part of this diplomatic mission. Almaeena's political and social columns appear regularly in Gulf News, Asharq al-Aswat, al-Eqtisadiah, Arab News, Times of Oman, Asian Age and The China Post. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter: @KhaledAlmaeena

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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