When Barack Obama won the presidential elections eight years ago, it was met by a torrent of cheerful statements and writings. Back then, I wrote saying do not be over-optimistic. And now, it’s only been one day since Donald Trump won the elections and many rushed into making pessimistic judgments. To those I say, do not be over-pessimistic.
Do not look at President-Elect Trump but look at the US as a state of institutions. There will be many stances, considerations and decisions which Trump’s government will deal with according to new facts. The president-elect will therefore have to make decisions based on the interests of his country and we will then sense the difference between him and Barack Obama. We expect changes but there will not be extreme changes in terms of foreign policy.
Trump won the American elections and the electoral debate has thus come to an end. You will not hear any talk about Muslims and foreigners later.
We must not blame Washington and fail to see that most of our problems and issues are the product of our decisions and acts and that most solutions to them are in our handsAbdulrahman al-Rashed
In about two months from now, the president-elect will sit in the Oval Office and begin his work. The Middle East with its accumulating problems will take much of his time and keep him busy. There is the war in Syria, the fight against ISIS, Iran’s, Russia’s and Turkey’s interventions, the war in Yemen and Libya, the issue of the refugees’ influx, the Palestinian cause, and above all that, the confrontation against terrorist organizations.
In the past, the Middle East was the region of the one issue but it has now become the worst and most dangerous spot in the world. It’s a zone that’s full of problems which are out of control. Will Trump deviate much from the policy of his predecessor Obama? It’s possible that he will do that when addressing the issues which previous administrations failed to resolve, and which developments proved a threat to the interests of the US and its allies in Europe or which are related to international balances.
Trump’s history with Muslims
Those who have been persuaded by what’s written and said during the electoral campaigns, and who concluded that Trump is against Muslims must take two important points into consideration: Trump’s personal history and the system of the American state, its constitution and judicial institutions. The president-elect has a long personal record of dealing with Muslim people and there isn’t any racial stance documented against him. He’s never been engaged in political or media campaigns against Muslims, whether American Muslims or Muslims outside the US, even following the phobia which spread after the September 11 terrorist attacks although Trump is a resident of the traumatized city of New York.
Meanwhile, the stance against Muslims who are affiliated with terrorism and extremism must not be viewed as a racial stance. As Muslims, this is our position too. Those who want to confuse enmity towards extremism with enmity against Islam are ideological groups that sponsor terrorist ideology and they aim to lobby to serve their political purposes.
Arab governments have plenty to do to communicate with the new administration in Washington after it’s formed and to deal with the US, which is a superpower that influences the region’s stability and prosperity. At the same time, we must not blame Washington and fail to see that most of our problems and issues are the product of our decisions and acts and that most solutions to them are in our hands.
In previous articles, I try to analyze the president-elect’s possible stances from our issues as most developments change and are interrelated. There’s no doubt at all that the next four years of Trump’s presidential term will be more decisive and dangerous than Obama’s eight years in office.
This article was first published Asharq al-Awsat on Nov. 10, 2016.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed.