Why Trump’s Middle East Trip Makes Iran Nervous

“I want to tell you,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said to President Donald Trump during a joint press conference Monday, “how much we appreciate the reassertion of American leadership in the Middle East.”

So how is Trump’s first foreign trip as president playing out? Suddenly, the scandal-mired President seems like a plausible world leader. He is certainly a more welcome guest in the capitols of America’s traditional allies than his predecessor, President Barack Obama. In addition to enjoying the show, viewers at home—the ones who voted for Trump last fall—likely appreciate the $110 billion arms deal Trump struck with Saudi Arabia. With another $350 billion to come over the next decade, those contracts will certainly help put assembly-line Americans back to work.

Trump’s speech before a worldwide audience about terrorism and Islam was a useful initiative that will also put some of the dozens of Muslim leaders who attended the speech on notice. Acknowledging that Jerusalem is in Israel is a break with strict Obama policy. Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Western Wall.

But having spent nearly a decade living in Cairo and Beirut, and traveling throughout the Middle East, I can easily imagine the spin that the region’s intellectuals are putting on the trip as they sit in their coffee houses and smoke Gitanes:

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How Trump Could Get Fired

Hours after Donald Trump’s Inauguration, a post appeared on the official White House petitions page, demanding that he release his tax returns. In only a few days, it gathered more signatures than any previous White House petition. The success of the Women’s March had shown that themed protests could both mobilize huge numbers of people and hit a nerve with the President. On Easter weekend, roughly a hundred and twenty thousand people protested in two hundred cities, calling for him to release his tax returns and sell his businesses. On Capitol Hill, protesters chanted “Impeach Forty-five!” In West Palm Beach, a motorcade ferrying him from the Trump International Golf Club to Mar-a-Lago had to take a circuitous route to avoid demonstrators. The White House does all it can to keep the President away from protests, but the next day Trump tweeted, “Someone should look into who paid for the small organized rallies yesterday. The election is over!”

On Tax Day itself, Trump travelled to Kenosha, Wisconsin, where he would be among his supporters again, giving a speech at Snap-on, a manufacturer of high-end power tools and other gear. Wisconsin has emerged as one of Trump’s favorite states. He is the first Republican Presidential candidate to win there since 1984. He included the state in a post-election “thank-you tour.” Another visit was planned for shortly after the Inauguration, but it was cancelled once it became clear that it would attract protests.

By this point in George W. Bush’s term, Bush had travelled to twenty-three states and a foreign country. Trump has visited just nine states and has never stayed the night. He inhabits a closed world that one adviser recently described to me as “Fortress Trump.” Rarely venturing beyond the White House and Mar-a-Lago, he measures his fortunes through reports from friends, staff, and a feast of television coverage of himself. Media is Trump’s “drug of choice,” Sam Nunberg, an adviser on his campaign, told me recently. “He doesn’t drink. He doesn’t do drugs. His drug is himself.”

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Trump Welcomes Netanyahu

I know them both — Netanyahu better than Trump — and I believe they will get along well. They are both no-nonsense pragmatists who understand the relationship between economic development and political progress. We all know of Trump’s business background and focus on jobs and trade. Less well-known is Netanyahu’s business background. Like Trump, Netanyahu went to business school and began his career as a businessman, working for Boston Consulting Group. When he entered politics, he helped transform Israel from an agrarian-based economy into “start-up nation,” which has become a technological superpower with a strong economy. He is the Alexander Hamilton of Israel, to David Ben Gurion’s Jefferson. Trump has to admire that.

Trump will also admire Netanyahu’s strong nationalism and love of country. He has made Israel great, militarily, technologically and economically. He may soon become Israel’s longest serving Prime Minister, surpassing the legendary Ben Gurion.

Each leader would like to be the one who succeeds in bringing a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. So many others — people of good will and considerable effort — have been unable to achieve this goal. There is no certainty that Trump and Netanyahu can succeed when so many others have come close but have never been able to close the deal. Both are respected for their deal-making capabilities — Trump in business, Netanyahu in domestic politics.

But there are considerable barriers to achieving a peaceful resolution. Netanyahu and his Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas, each have domestic constituencies that would oppose the compromise necessary to achieve a two-state solution. Some of Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition partners oppose a two-state solution in which Israel would turn over most of the West Bank to establish a Palestinian state. And many West Bank Palestinians — not to mention Hamas in Gaza — oppose recognizing the legitimacy of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. They also demand the “return” of millions of Palestinian refugees to Israel, despite the reality that there are probably only a hundred thousand or so actual refugees who themselves left Israel in 1948-1949, many voluntarily.

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The Trump-Trudeau Tryst

President Trump may be meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada shortly. The two leaders worked across from each other on the world’s longest undefended border.

The January 29, 2017 shooting at a Quebec City mosque in which six people were killed may prove to be “interesting” as it plays on USA/Canada relations. There is emerging information to show that the mosque may have been targeted as a “Muslim Brotherhood mosque.” This includes a July 2016 article (i.e. seven months before the attack) by the Journal de Quebec which stated that a pamphlet had been circulated in the neighbourhood claiming it was a Muslim Brotherhood mosque. Three weeks prior to the pamphlet being distributed, a pig’s head had been left at the doorway of the mosque. Three incidents around one mosque suggests a pattern of activity and escalation by an individual or group that has grievances with the Muslim Brotherhood. It is not yet clear if terrorism charges will be laid in addition to charges of first degree murder.

South of here, a series of reports suggest that President Trump may use executive authority to list the Muslim Brotherhood and some of its front groups in the USA as terrorist entities. Senator Cruz (R-TX) has a bill in the US Congress that would have the effect of listing the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist entity along its front groups CAIR USA, ISNA and the North American Islamic Trust.

Trudeau and the Islamist Front Groups

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Trump Fires Up Europe’s Anti-Establishment Movement

Inspired by the inauguration of U.S. President Donald J. Trump, the leaders of Europe’s main anti-establishment parties have held a pan-European rally aimed at coordinating a political strategy to mobilize potentially millions of disillusioned voters in upcoming elections in Germany, the Netherlands and France.

Appearing together in public for the first time, Marine Le Pen, leader of the French National Front, Frauke Petry, leader of the Alternative for Germany (AfD), Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV), Matteo Salvini, leader of Italy’s Northern League and Harald Vilimsky of Austria’s Freedom Party gathered on January 21 at a rally in Koblenz, Germany, where they called on European voters to participate in a “patriotic spring” to topple the European Union, reassert national sovereignty and secure national borders.

The two-hour rally was held under the banner of the Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF), a group established in June 2015 by Members of the European Parliament from nine counties to oppose European federalism and the transfer of political power from voters to unelected bureaucrats in Brussels, the de facto capital of the European Union.

Referring to the June 2016 decision by British voters to leave the European Union, and the rise of President Donald Trump in the United States, Le Pen said:

“We are living through the end of one world, and the birth of another. We are experiencing the return of nation-states. 2016 was the year the Anglo-Saxon world woke up. 2017, I am sure, will be the year in which the peoples of the European continent rise up.”

Wilders added:

“The world is changing. America is changing. Europe is changing. It started last year with Brexit, yesterday there was Trump and today the freedom-loving parties gathered in Koblenz are making a stand. The genie will not go back into the bottle again, whether you like it or not. The people of the West are awakening. They are throwing off the yoke of political correctness.”

Polls indicate that the political sea change engulfing the United States is fueling support for anti-establishment parties in Europe. In addition to anger over eroding sovereignty, a growing number of Europeans are rebelling against decades of government-imposed multiculturalism, politically correct speech codes and mass migration from the Muslim world.

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Obama Admin Sabotaged Trump’s Transition To The White House

President Trump’s claims that the Obama administration sought to undermine his presidency received some support on Wednesday from a New York Times report on the Obama White House’s activities in the weeks before the inauguration.

According to The Times, Obama White House officials waged a campaign to procure, save and disperse classified intelligence regarding Trump associates’ contacts with Russians.

The campaign also involved curtailing the Trump team’s access to highly classified information and of lowering classification ratings on other information about the ongoing Russia investigation so that it could be more widely shared across the government.

According to The Times’ sources, the Obama officials waged the campaign out of fear that the Trump administration would cover up or destroy some of the information.

The campaign was multifaceted but was not directed by Obama himself, the Times sources claimed.

The wide-ranging report also includes some information that is not positive for Trump, including that federal investigators were given intelligence from foreign services that some Trump associates met with Russians in the Netherlands and Britain.

That detail adds new information to a report from The Times last month that U.S. investigators had evidence that some Trump campaign advisers communicated with Russian government officials before the election.

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