Major shift unlikely in US Mideast policy: expert
November 10 2016 12:00 AM
The panellists at a discussion on US elections at the Brookings Doha Centre yesterday. PICTURE: Jayan Orma

The US President-elect, Donald J Trump, is unlikely to adopt a different course all of a sudden in the existing policies towards the Gulf countries and the Middle East, an expert in American politics and policies said yesterday.
“Trump will neither be like George Bush pushing in the military force nor like President Barack Obama, withdraw the forces from the region. He will start with the already prevailing policies in the region,” said Prof Joshua Mitchell, professor of political theory, Georgetown University in Qatar.
“He will ask for guidance about the allies in the region. He will start with the allies that the US has and will continue with the facts on ground. He is a person who believes in practical, hands-on, making things work policy,” he explained.
Prof Mitchell was one of the panelists at a discussion organised yesterday by Brookings Doha Centre on the topic “America Decides: Implications of the US Election Results”.
Prof Khaled al-Haroub, professor in residence at Northwestern University in Qatar, was the other panelist at the discussion, moderated by Prof Samer S Shehata, associate professor, Doha Institute for Graduate Studies.
Prof Mitchell pointed out that most of the statements made by Trump during the campaign should be seen in the election contest. “Politics is all about rhetoric while governance is on policies which are entirely different from the political exchanges. You will hear such things in New York during the elections which are not taken seriously. Almost 90% of Trump comments during the election campaigns must be taken as political rhetoric,” he noted.
Prof al-Haroub said that many of the issues raised by Trump will be points of discussion in the coming days particular in relation to Nato as well as his policy towards Iran’s nuclear policy. “These are certain issues that have to be seen when he takes over the presidency and what will be his actions in these areas. His Russian policy will also be under the scanner. However, I believe that the Trump-Putin honeymoon may not last long.”
Prof Mitchell pointed out that Trump’s energy policy may not be good for many of the Gulf countries. “Trump’s energy policy will drive petrochemical prices down. That will not be good news for many Gulf
countries,” he said.
As for American policy towards Nato, Prof Mitchell noted that Trump has raised several things about the alliance during the campaign. “I think what he believes is that if European allies are serious about Nato, they also have to share the cost. America alone can’t invest in it. America has got $18trn deficit and therefore , the Nato allies have to put in more money into the
organisation,” he stated.

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