22 May, Tuesday

The problem with Trump is that he has very little knowledge about this region and very limited experience-Israeli expert - EXCLUSIVE


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Eyal Zisser, a vice rector of Tel-Aviv university and the head of the Yona and Dina Ettinger Chair in the Contemporary History of the Middle East gave an exclusive interview to Eurasia Diary regarding president Donald Trump’s planned first foreign trip to Saudi Arabia and Israel.  
Eurasia Diary:  If we look at the history of the foreign policy of the United States, presidents of America had their first foreign visit to neighbouring countries-Canada and Mexico. However, the new president of the United States, Donald Trump will make his first foreign trip to Saudi Arabia and Israel. In your opinion, does Donald  Trump want to  send political message to Muslim world with  his first foreign trip? 
Eyal Zisser: Well, with Trump it’s always complicated. I guess he wants to separate himself from Obama, and maybe he feels that he can make an impact in this region and with the Muslim world. – So the symbolic aspect is important, but what Trump is after, very difficult to know. In his pre elections declarations – it was clear that he does think highly on Europe.
Eurasia Diary: In the meeting between the president of the United States and officials of the  Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, not only international cooperation to combat terrorism in the Middle East, but also the issue of Iran is expected to be discussed.  From your opinion, does the United States have plan to create a joint front with Sunni states and Israel against Iran? 
Eyal Zisser:  It is an important issue for the America, and yes, I think they want to form an anti-Iranian coalition based on the Arab states and Turkey. They speak about this issue very often in Washington these days.
Eurasia Diary: After  Saudi Arabia,  Donald Trump will meet with leaders of the State  of Israel and Palestine, Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmud Abbas.  From point of your view, is Trump interested in the solution of long-term conflict between Jewish and Arab states?
Eyal Zisser: Clearly Trump is interested, the question is whether he has a strategy. The problem with Trump is that he has very little knowledge about this region and very limited experience. So yes, he is interested in making peace, but does he know how? Not clear at all.
Eurasia Diary: How do you think,  what are  the main differences in the foreign policy of Donald Trump and former presidents of  the United States towards Middle East?  
Eyal Zisser: Eventually, the basic policy was the same. Some were warmer towards Israel e.g. Bush or Clinton, some were interested in the question of human right in the Muslim world like Obama, but the basic policy was the same.

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