Trump’s Team Will Start New Wars in the Middle East
Abu Omar Khorasani, an Isis leader in Afghanistan, is quoted as saying that “our leaders were closely following the US election, but it was unexpected that the Americans would dig their own graves.” He added that what he termed Trump’s “hatred” towards Muslims would enable Isis to recruit thousands of fighters.
The Isis calculation is that, as happened after 9/11, the demonisation and collective punishment of Muslims will propel a proportion of the Islamic community into its ranks. Given that there are 1.6 billion Muslims – about 23 per cent of the world’s population – Isis and al-Qaeda-type organisations need to win the loyalty of only a small proportion of the Islamic community to remain a powerful force.
Blood-curdling proposals for the persecution of Muslims played a central role in Trump’s election campaign. At one moment, he promised to stop all Muslims from entering the US, though this was later changed to “extreme vetting”. The use of torture by water-boarding was approved and applauded, and Hillary Clinton was pilloried for not speaking of “radical Islamic terrorism”.
Trump and his aides may imagine that much of this can be discarded as the overblown rhetoric of the campaign, but Isis and al-Qaeda propagandists will make sure that Trump’s words are endlessly repeated with all their original venom intact.
Nor will this propaganda about the anti-Muslim bias of the new administration be so far from the truth, going by the track record of many of the people in its security and foreign policy team. Trump is reported to have offered the post of National Security Adviser to General Michael Flynn, who was sacked by President Obama as head of the Defence Intelligence Agency in 2014. Flynn notoriously sees Islamic militancy not only as a danger, but as an existential threat to the US. He tweeted earlier this year that “fear of Muslims is RATIONAL”.
There is an obsessive, self-righteous quality to Flynn’s approach that led him to join chants of “lock her up” in reference to Hillary Clinton during election rallies. Former associates complain of Flynn’s political tunnel vision that could wreak havoc in the Middle East. His consulting company, the Flynn Intel Group, appears to lobby for the Turkish government and Flynn recently wrote an article calling for all-out US support for Turkey, who Washington has been trying to stop launching a full scale invasion of Syria and Iraq. Unsurprisingly, the Turkish president welcomed Trump’s election with enthusiasm and sharply criticised protests against it in the US (something that would be swiftly dealt with by police water cannon in Turkey).