Foreign Policy Blogs

How do Arabs in Middle East view the US mid-term elections?

TOPSHOT – US President Donald Trump arrives for a political rally at Charleston Civic Center in Charleston, West Virginia, on August 21, 2018. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Many Americans feel that the Arab world has a negative opinion of US President Donald Trump and would very much like for the Democrats to succeed in the upcoming US mid-term elections. However, this perception of the Arab world is very misleading and does not tell the whole story for there are Arabs who do support Trump and wish for a Republican victory.

It is true that the Arab Youth Survey that was conducted after Trump was elected claimed that 49% of young Arabs consider the US under President Trump to be an enemy. However, if one speaks to the Arab elites and Arab pro-democracy activists that are not hostile towards the State of Israel, one gets the impression that there are a number of Arabs who in fact support President Trump. For example, both Egyptian President Abdul Fattah El Sisi and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia consider Trump to be a “true friend of the Muslims.” Furthermore, neither Sisi nor Bin Salman are the only Arabs who feel this way.

Massad Abu Toameh, an expert on Palestinian affairs in Jerusalem, is supporting the Republicans in the upcoming mid-term elections for he considers Trump’s deal of the century to be the only proposal of its kind that brings innovative and creative ideas to the table for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: “There is a one-time opportunity to create peace in the region between Israel, the Arabs and its surrounding neighbors. I believe that it is best that the Americans stick with this president. They are the ones supporting the people and not the so-called Palestinian and Arab leadership. Now, we have a future to look forward to.”

While Abu Mazen and Jordan’s king do not like Trump’s deal of the century, the majority of the descendants of Palestinian refugees prefer to stay where they are. Abu Toameh noted that there are Palestinians who are even selling their UNRWA refugee cards so that Syrians can get admitted into Europe: “You cannot be a refugee living in Palm Beach, Florida. This whole thing with UNRWA has to stop.” In Abu Toameh’s view, the fact that UNRWA has not rebuilt Gaza is a huge scandal and Jerusalem is not such a big deal. He noted that many East Jerusalemites are anyways applying for Israeli citizenship because they witness the corruption that occurs on a daily basis within the Palestinian Authority. Abu Toameh claimed that only Trump had the courage to recognize this reality: “We need someone strong like Donald Trump.”

Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid believes that at the end of the day, only Israelis and Palestinians can make peace with one another. In his view, the Americans cannot really affect the final outcome of a peace deal. However, at this critical juncture in history, right before Trump is about to announce his deal of the century, Eid very much does not want for Trump to be weakened following the results of these mid-term elections: “I am supporting the Republicans so that there is stability and that things can step forward.”

However, not all Arab pro-democracy advocates are pro-Republican. Syrian human rights activist Aboud Dandachi is not taking a side in these mid-term elections. However, he hopes whichever US political party takes over the US Congress will continue to apply pressure on the Palestinian Authority: “The Palestinians should know that this time there is no waiting for an American president in the hopes that the next one will fulfill their fantasies of a right of return and other hardline positions.”

Furthermore, Lebanese Christian writer Fred Maroun is greatly concerned about the anti-Israel positions taken by some Democratic candidates and how the Republican Party has moved to the far right, which has led to a rise of more than one Neo-Nazi candidate: “It is very surprising to me as a non-American that a country as large and diverse as the US would only have two parties. This model worked fairly well when both parties were moderate but as both parties become extreme, we are missing the stability and consistency that the US used to provide in terms of world leadership.”

 

Author

Rachel Avraham
Rachel Avraham

Rachel Avraham is the President of the Dona Gracia Mendes Nasi Center for Human Rights in Middle East (under formation) and is a political analyst at the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights. In addition, she is a contributing writer at the Haym Salomon Center, a news and public policy group. For over 6 years, she has been an Israel-based journalist, specializing in radical Islam, abuses of human rights and minority rights, counter-terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Syria, Iran, Kurdistan and other issues of importance. Avraham is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media," a ground-breaking book endorsed by Former Israel Consul General Yitzchak Ben Gad and Israeli Communications Minister Ayoob Kara that discusses how the media exploits the life stories of Palestinian female terrorists in order to justify wanton acts of violence. Avraham has an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from Ben-Gurion University. She received her BA in Government and Politics with minors in Jewish Studies and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Maryland at College Park.

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