What will Trump’s presidency mean to peace in Middle East?

Saturday February 18 2017

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and America's President Donald Trump hold a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC in the United States on February 15, 2017. PHOTO | SAUL LOEB | AFP

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and America's President Donald Trump hold a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC in the United States on February 15, 2017. PHOTO | SAUL LOEB | AFP 

By DOMINIC WAMUGUNDA
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Last Sunday, I ventured into diplomacy. And I got quite some feedback, both positive and negative. The most emphatic one was the one that reminded me that “... a cardinal principle in international relations holds that no country acts in the interests of another...” I own up. That is not my field and I did point out as much in my submission last Sunday. I also, however, appreciate that the article provoked some thought.

At the risk of making more mistakes, I am inclined to remain in the same wave of foreign relations on account of a story I saw last Wednesday in one of the dailies. It talked about phone calls that President Donald Trump of the United States had made to President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria and President Jacob Zuma of South Africa. The real import of the story was that Kenya had not done its diplomacy right as a result of which President Uhuru Kenyatta was not called together with his two counterparts.

MAYBE TRUE

It was not quite clear to me. May be it is true that Kenya’s diplomacy was not quite up to standard but I am sure the President of the United States or any other state has reason to call whichever other president of whichever nation he or she chooses to. If he did not choose to call the Kenyan president when he was calling the other two, it may be possible that there was nothing to discuss between the two leaders at that time. In any case it did not seem that he was calling all the African heads of state. While I am at it, the other day I was watching a press conference by President Trump and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. What came through to me is that this American President is out to change many things in Washington just as he promised during the campaigns. From what came out of that interaction with the media, this change is not just in style but also in fundamental principles of American foreign policy.

BEFORE SITTING

With regard to style, the two leaders did the press conference before sitting down to discuss what brought them together. From what we have seen, it has always been done the other way round. More fundamentally, Mr Trump did, in my view, sound a little casual about a matter that has always been delicate with regard to the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians. It is a well-known fact that for many years, America – whether under Democrats or Republicans – always holds the view that there should be two states. One wonders what Mr Trump’s presidency will mean to peace in the Middle East.

Fr Dominic Wamugunda is dean of students, University of Nairobi.

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