…These developments have begun to alter the calculus for leaders of countries who are dependent on US and Gulf aid. But the concerns of country leaders are not necessarily shared among the population, according to a recent wave of nationally representative Arab Barometer surveys, which measured people’s perceptions of the threat to country stability posed by Iran, Israel, and the Trump administration.
Recently, leaders from Sudan and Morocco have sought to leverage normalising relations with Israel in order to ingratiate themselves with Trump.
In Sudan, Israel supported separatists in the south of the country during the 1960s and 70s while the government boycotted Israel. More recently, the Israeli Ministry of Defence has been implicated in a weapons selling scheme, channeling funds through South Sudan’s central bank, and enhancing President Kiir’s image following known human rights violations.
When asked “what country poses the greatest threat to stability in your country?” over one third of Sudanese respondents named Israel (36.4 percent), more than the total that identified “no country” as being a threat (19.7 percent). Respondents in Sudan were also nearly 10 times more likely to consider Israel a threat than Iran.
The UAE recently welcomed the appointment of the interim leader of Sudan, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and coordinated a meeting between Benjamin Netanyahu with the aim to remove Sudan from US terror listing. Sudan’s ministerial cabinet was apparently unaware of the meeting.
In Morocco, the story of public opinion is a similar one. More than half (58 percent) of respondents viewed the policies of Donald Trump as bad, or very bad for the Arab region. Moroccans were also more than 12 times more likely to consider Israel a greater threat than Iran.
When Moroccan minister of foreign affairs Nasser Bourita held a secret meeting on the sidelines of a UN gathering in New York, billed as a step toward normalising relations, the issue of countering Iran was on the agenda.
Even in Tunisia, where the country’s recently elected president Kais Saied ran on a pro-Palestinian platform, the president dismissed his ambassador to the United Nations, over concerns that his position on Kushner’s peace plan was too strongly articulated.
While the move may not be indicative of a broader policy shift, it does illustrate that even Trump’s most outlandish policies elicit sensitive responses and have real implications for international relations.
The move has also brought speculation that Jared Kushner pressured the new president into relieving the ambassador of his duties during a phone call. According to the Arab Barometer surveys, 70 percent of Tunisian survey respondents felt the foreign policies of President Trump have been either bad or very bad for the Arab region. Tunisian respondents were 28 times more likely to consider Israel a threat than Iran, and tended to consider the United States as an even greater threat to stability than Israel.
Across these cases, the views of citizens on foreign affairs are not being represented in the actions taken by country leadership. Trump determines his foreign policy agenda based on whim and self-interest, fueling instability and negative perceptions of the United States at a time when the human rights agenda has fallen off the global agenda, and norms are weakening.
As long as these leaders continue taking unpopular measures to curry favour with the US, and fail to account for their constituencies, the resistance will go on.Read full article at The New Arab