The Middle East Welcomes Trump, Warily

With a new Trump administration changing policy from Israel to Yemen, the volatile region could be in for a wild ride.


On this week’s episode of The E.R., David Rothkopf and Ben Pauker are joined by two new guests in a new location. Randa Slim and Gary Samore join the program in Abu Dhabi, where PeaceGame, a simulation-exercise event, was taking place. PeaceGame, a partnership between Foreign Policy, the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, convenes leading minds in national security policy, international affairs, academia, and media to “game out” how to bring seemingly intractable conflicts to a peaceful solution. This particular PeaceGame focused on two scenarios — Iran and the Israel/Palestine conflict — that could change dramatically under the new Trump administration.

The group looks at ongoing situations in the Middle East — from Russia’s involvement in Syria, to Iran’s influence in Yemen, to the continued strife between Israel and Palestine — and wonders how President Trump might change the nature of conflict and diplomacy. America’s Middle East allies are some of the only countries that have been receptive to the new U.S. leadership, but can this honeymoon last? Is a tough, new clarity toward friends and enemies a good thing? Or will governments and people in the region become disillusioned and frustrated by the lack of experience that the new U.S. president has in Middle Eastern affairs? And what happens if our friends from Cairo to Riyadh realize they can’t rely on Washington anymore?

Gary Samore is the executive director for research at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School for Government at Harvard University.

Randa Slim is the director of the Track II Dialogues initiative at the Middle East Institute and is an adjunct research fellow at the New America Foundation. Follow her on Twitter at: @rmslim.

Ben Pauker is the executive editor of ForeignPolicy.com. Follow him on Twitter: @benpauker.

David Rothkopf is the CEO and editor of the FP Group. Follow him on Twitter: @djrothkopf.

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