Spotlight: Trump's Middle East policy risks undermining peace, stability

Source: Xinhua| 2018-01-18 12:23:03|Editor: Jiaxin
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- During his first year in office, U.S. President Donald Trump declared controversial Middle East policies which have drawn an angry response from the international community, including his close Western allies.

From a ban on entry of citizens from several Muslim countries into America, the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, to the threat of scrapping the Iran nuclear deal. Barely has one problem been resolved when yet another surfaces.

Observers warned that Trump's policies would undermine the peace process and stability, strengthen extremism and promote division in the region.


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday called Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem being Israel's capital, as "sinful" and "ill-fated."

He made the comments at a conference on the Jerusalem issue held in Cairo ahead of a weekend visit by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence to the region. Earlier this week, Abbas said Trump's decision was "a slap on the face" and rejected Pence's mediation trip which will includes stops in Egypt, Jordan and Israel.

Israel invaded east Jerusalem, alongside the West Bank and Gaza in the 1967 Middle East war and soon afterward annexed east Jerusalem, claiming it part of its "indivisible capital." The move was never recognized internationally.

The Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Since then, the U.S. presidents had frequently promised to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital in their campaigns but failed keep their words for fear of repercussions.

On Dec. 21, 2017, the UN General Assembly voted 128-9 with 35 abstentions to refute U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, revealing the isolation of Washington on the issue.

"If the president only recognizes Israel's claim to the city ... his decision will be universally condemned in the region and globally," said Dalia Kaye, director of the Center for Middle East Public Policy at the RAND Corporation.

Kaye also said the United States is risking inflaming regional tension and increasing anti-American sentiment without any clear strategic gain.

Trump's declaration resulted in a spike in violence in the Middle East, which has left at least 13 people killed and dozens of others injured.

"Trump is already seen as a divisive force in the Middle East and other places around the world. His action will make it more difficult to make progress in the Middle East," said Darrell West, a senior fellow at the Washington-based think tank Brookings Institute.


The protests in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip extended to Tehran and even to Europe last week when Trump threatened to scrap the Iran nuclear deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Trump said Friday he will extend sanctions relief on Iran under the deal for another 120 days for the last time, threatening a withdrawal from the pact if Washington and its European allies cannot eliminate the alleged "disastrous flaws."

He has constantly criticized the Iran deal inked in 2015 between Iran and the P5+1 - Russia, France, China, Britain, the United States, plus Germany. The Western countries promised to lift sanctions on Tehran in exchange for a halt in Iran's nuclear program.

In October, the White House refused to certify that Iran had complied with the nuclear deal, while the UN inspectors repeatedly confirmed Tehran had kept its commitments in the accord.

Despite his unyielding efforts to solicit support from Europe, Trump has met no positive reaction from neither his friends nor foes.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said those who oppose the nuclear agreement should be offered a better solution and "we haven't seen it so far."

French President Emmanuel Macron emphasized the importance of abiding by the deal "in order to guarantee better stability in the Middle East," according to a readout of his telephone conversation with Trump on Thursday.

In terms of the U.S. diplomacy, Dmitry Suslov, deputy director of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the Russian Higher School of Economics, told Xinhua that Trump, without any diplomatic strategy inside, set his internal political position above the foreign policies.

Suslov said the Trump administration has not substantially changed their existing concept of allies and adversaries, but has been seen to making it "sharper and more concrete", which may see the Middle East plunging into disorder.