Time to up the pressure

President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media during a working lunch with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, at Trump's private Mar-a-Lago club, Wednesday, April 18, 2018, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The Arab world has been waiting for a long time for an American leader with the vision, the sense of justice and the will to reconnect again with the region and its ailments, especially the 7-decade-old Palestinian problem.

This yearning grew more pronounced after U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration proved incapable, even unwilling, to effect change, seeing as it adopted a strategy of disengagement and the policy of the three monkeys, which allowed Russia, Iran, and Turkey to a lesser extent to fill the power vacuum created by America’s absence.

Still, there was hope his successor would be more engaged and bring a fresh strategy that would break the deadlocks and finally create a glimmer of hope that a solution could be reached.

Unfortunately, what we ended up with was a man who brought only disruption and divisiveness.

In fact, a few days ago one of President Donald Trump’s defenders in Congress told a conservative columnist that his election was “like Forrest Gump won the presidency, but an evil, really ... stupid Forrest Gump.”

A couple of days later, the former – and fired – FBI Director James Comey told ABC that “I don’t think Trump is medically unfit to be president. I think he is morally unfit to be president.”

For this part of the world, which shares many problems with the U.S. and its leaders, and has to deal with Trump, this presents a serious problem.

Trump’s ascent to power proved a disappointment to this region, because not only is the U.S. now led by a president who brought neither a strategy nor a proactive approach, but one who dug out every staunch Israeli supporter and entrusted them with advising him on means and plans for a “peaceful solution.”

Since then, these people’s endeavors have been crowned by the most divisive of moves, including handing Jerusalem to the Jewish state, sanctioning the building of more settlements, grabbing more Arab land and sending any glimmer of hope for peace into the deep freeze.

Meanwhile, to the ire of 22 Arab countries, Washington has vetoed every resolution at the U.N. Security Council condemning Israel’s atrocities. The Syria debacle is further proof of a U.S. strategy based on reaction focusing on the problems piecemeal.

But Arab states, which through their trade exchanges, investments and arms purchases created hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs, have enough clout to put pressure on the administration to rethink its approach.

They must exert every effort and use every channel, whether financial, strategic or political, if they ever hope to change the American policy that is based on Israel first.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 19, 2018, on page 1.




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