U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence applaud a singer during for a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony honoring former Senate majority leader Bob Dole (R-KS) on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 17, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Rob U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence applaud a singer during for a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony honoring former Senate majority leader Bob Dole (R-KS) on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 17, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Rob

Trump’s 1st year in office in Middle East’s eyes

Sat, Jan. 20, 2018
CAIRO - 20 January 2018: Since the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump on January 20, 2017, the U.S. leadership’s popularity overseas has fallen 18% since Barack Obama left office, according to Gallup Polls Center which conducts weekly polls over Trump’s job performance.

Trump, the 45th President of the United States, is known for his controversial statements and racist remarks on Muslims, Arabs and non-Americans in general.

His presidential campaign’s motto “Make America Great Again” did not refer only to Americans, but he kept claiming that ‘making America great again’ can be only achieved when America closes its doors for refugees and migrants.

Egypt Today examines Trump’s interactions with the Middle East and his controversial remarks on the region.

Muslim countries’ travel ban

Only 10 days after his inauguration, Trump’s administration issued a travel ban for seven Muslim-majority countries. This racist decision was condemned by many countries, in addition to widening a huge gap between Muslims living inside the U.S. and other religious nations.

This decision benefited extremist groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda. They were trying to persuade people that the West, especially America, is fighting Islam and not terrorism. The U.S. decision to issue a travel ban validated what they are saying. Trump offered ISIS a reason to launch new terror attacks against the West and and the U.S. in particular.

U.S. air strikes in Syria

"I do change and I am flexible, and I'm proud of that flexibility," he said shortly before authorizing air strikes against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over claims from Washington that the regime launched a sarin gas attack on civilians.

The United States struck a Syrian airbase in the early hours of April 7, 2017, in retaliation of an alleged chemical missiles attack one week earlier by Syrian government forces on the town of Khan Sheikhun.

The U.S. attack was followed by days of outrage as images of dead children and victims suffering from a suspected sarin gas attack on the town of Khan Sheikhun went viral.

Trump’s first foreign visit to Riyadh

U.S. President Donald Trump arrived in Riyadh on May 20, 2017, where he was received by the Saudi King ahead of the Arab Islamic American Summit. Leaders of the two nations signed arms deals worth almost $110 billion. This was considered Trump’s first foreign visit since he came to power on January 20.

Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi participated in the inauguration of the “Aa’tidal” (moderation) center to monitor and combat extremism, along with American President Donald Trump and Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz in Riyadh.

The three heads of state and a number of regional leaders visited the new Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology after the conclusion of the Arab-Islamic-American summit on May 22.

The three leaders placed their hands on a miniature globe that officially marked the opening of the center and launched an extravagant welcome video.

Around 55 leaders and representatives from across the Islamic world were hosted in Riyadh, where three summits took place, including the Arab-Islamic-American summit.

The two-day international summit kicked off in Riyadh under the slogan “Together We Prevail.” It aimed to “renew mutual commitment to global security and further strengthen already deep business, cultural and political ties,” according to the Riyadh summit’s official website.

Trump’s stance against Iran’s nuclear agreement

Trump's earlier statements on canceling the 2015 Iran nuclear deal have been opposed by other parties involved in the agreement as well as internal political forces.

Although he waived the sanctions against Iran for this year, the U.S. president had set an ultimatum to remedy the "disastrous flaws" in the agreement signed by Iran and 14 parties in 2015 so that Iran would restrict its nuclear program for peaceful means. He wants the updated agreement to go into effect within 120 days.

In parallel, the U.S. president imposed other sanctions on 14 Iranian entities and individuals, including judiciary head Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani. Both actions were condemned by the Iranian Foreign Ministry which stressed that the multilateral deal is not "renegotiable."

Moreover, the United States would be quite wary from taking military action against Iran at the moment as North Korea would not seize the opportunity to fire ballistic missiles into Japan, Guam and/or U.S. forces in the Pacific Ocean, experts told Egypt Today.

Trump’s endorsement of Arab-Qatari dispute

In June, Trump called for the Gulf princedom of Qatar to stop funding terrorist groups, saying it had historically done so "at a very high level." His statements came after four Arab states - Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United States, and Bahrain - severed ties with Qatar for supporting terrorism.

In July, Trump commented in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network that 10 other states would like to "build" another one for the U.S. and "pay for it" in case it had to leave the one in Qatar. That base was used by the U.S. to run operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria.

In January 2014, Qatar offered to help Iran in developing the nuclear field as the latter has been trying to do so for two decades but could not due to the sanctions imposed on the country since the revolution in 1979. Furthermore, the company Total signed a contract with Qatar and Iran in July to help them expand production of South Pars/North Dome gas field, according to Reuters.

On the other hand, Qatar has been supporting Iran-backed Shiite groups in certain Arab countries, including fellow Gulf states, such as Lebanon's Hezbollah, Bahrain, and Kuwait.

In September, U.S. President Donald Trump declared his willingness to step in and mediate in the worst dispute in decades among the U.S.-allied Arab states and Qatar, after Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad had sought President Donald Trump’s mediation in his crisis with the Arab States which came as a result of Qatar being accused of funding terrorism by the Arab Quartet.

Trump-Sisi four meetings

In September 2017, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi held a number of meetings with several leaders, participating in several meetings including a major talk session with his American counterpart Donald Trump in New York.

Sisi’s first meeting with Trump was held on September 20, 2016, during Trump’s presidential campaign in New York on the sideline of the United Nations General Assembly.

Last April, Trump welcomed Sisi in the White House and held a meeting with him to discuss the situation in the Middle East region.

Also, during the Arab Islamic American Summit held last May, President al-Sisi met with his American counterpart for the third time.

Trump's unilateral decision over Jerusalem

On December 6, U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by announcing the relocation of the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This decision was condemned and rejected by all Arab and Islamic countries, as well as most Western and Asian countries.

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets to denounce the American decision on Jerusalem in different cities across the world.

On December 21, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) overwhelmingly passed a non-binding resolution condemning Trump’s decision and called on states not to move their diplomatic missions to Jerusalem.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said in an interview with Fox News in January that the U.S. is already planning for the step of moving the embassy to Jerusalem. “The decision was made and we will move our embassy to Israel’s capital,” Pence stated.

Mike Pence’s visit to the Middle East in January 2018

Vice President Mike Pence has arrived in Cairo on Saturday on his first visit in a four-day tour to the Middle East.

Pence plans to visit Amman and Jerusalem as well. This is the first U.S. high-profile official visit to the region after the American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December.

He will hold meetings with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, Jordan's King Abdullah II and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the White House released in a statement.

Pence, a strong supporter of Trump's decision on Jerusalem, will also visit the city's Western Wall and give a speech at the Israeli Knesset, the statement said.

Trump’s tweets on Iran’s hunger uprising

“Iran is failing at every level despite the terrible deal made with them by the Obama Administration,” Trump tweeted on January 1.

Trump stressed that Iran’s government has suppressed the Iranian people for many years, describing the Iranians’ demonstrations as protests of hunger.

“TIME FOR CHANGE,” Trump stressed, expressing his full support to the Iranian uprising against their government.

In his first comment on the ongoing protests in Iran, Trump stated, “Big protests in Iran. The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism.”

In a televised speech in November, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the U.S., “Iran’s number one enemy.”
 
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