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Opinion: The Struggle For Trump’s Mind - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Due to the fact that the US President-elect Donald Trump does not have a previous political record, his positions on what is happening in the world are clear to see and various parties are trying to reconcile their stances with his general ideas that he previously talked about.

This is an academic exam that is not easy. For example, Trump previously said that he considered Iran’s regime to be responsible for the problems in the region, and he blamed the current administration for leaving the regime to defy the United States. At the same time, he said that he would cooperate with Russia to fight terrorism in Syria. The contradiction in the two statements can be seen by anyone who knows that Russia is an ally of Iran and is responsible, alongside the Assad regime that it supports, for the chaos in Syria and the killing of more than half a million people there, mostly civilians, and the displacement of another 12 million Syrians.

Trump’s position could be sound if he considered the fight against terrorist organisations such as ISIS and Al-Nusra Front as part of a major operation that equalises murderers i.e. the regime and terrorist groups.

The problem of President Barack Obama’s administration was that it separated causes from effects. It considered its only mission in the region to be the fight against terrorist organisations and it left chaos, killing, displacement and destruction to spread in conflict zones such as Syria, Libya and Iraq.

The Syrian regime and its allies have facilitated the expansion of ISIS in areas of conflict in order to fight the Syrian opposition. The outgoing president, Obama, has admitted that he made a mistake with regards to estimating the extent of danger and he blamed this, as is the habit of presidents, on information provided by the security services. Meanwhile, all those who watched the news on the television and witnessed ISIS’ actions did not need the opinion of the CIA to realise that terrorist organisations are growing steadily and that this is worrying.

The reason for Obama’s negligence and his reluctance to deal with the nutrients of terrorism such as chaos is that he was keen for his only political project in the region, reconciliation with Iran, to succeed. He was also keen on not offending Iran at a time when it was seeking help from militias in Syria and Iraq.

Although Trump’s orientation in the region is not clear and has not been announced, it is not difficult to find countries in the region that have common ground with him with concerning the fight against terrorism. This serious disease requires large countries to take firm positions against chaos. Terrorism exists in Iraq and will grow as long as Iran sponsors and insists on the presence of extremist Shiite militias at the expense of the independence of the Iraqi state’s stability and the sovereignty of its military bodies on its territory. Intervention and the method adopted by Iran will lead to more sectarian fighting and angry people joining Al-Qaeda and ISIS, and this is an expected result in light of the weakness of the central government and Iranian groups seizing the keys of governance.

The situation in Syria is more complex and difficult than in Iraq where there is no central authority that is recognised by the people. There are more than seven million Syrians who are displaced within Syria, five million others have sought refuge abroad and the sponsor of the majority of Syrian people wishing to confront the regime has become extremist organisations. The solution to this dilemma which requires the removal of extremists on both sides of the war is political. Without a just solution, ISIS will invest in a great pool of humans from which it will draw people to carry out its terrorist activities. Trump will realise that without acceptable peace in Syria, the world will not be safe from the evils of terrorism that are a result of the chaos and loss.

In Libya, the search for common ground with Trump will not be difficult compared to Syria. The chaos there is also the source of terrorism, but the forces of conflict can be influenced and extremist groups can be restrained and blockaded. These forces and extremists groups should not be part of governance because that would give them legitimacy and prolong the cycle of violence. In the case of Libya, there are no major opposition forces there and so the Trump administration will be able to cooperate with its European and regional allies and lend weight to legitimacy. It will also be able to impose a new phase that will end the chaos and eliminate terrorism.

These issues are related to the subject of terrorism which Trump has pledged to wipe off the “face of the earth” although implementing this promise is almost impossible. Once he sees the link between chaos and terrorism, it will not be difficult for his administration to adopt more decisive and courageous policy and you’ll find that the majority of countries in the region and the world are ready to support it.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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