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Concerns over United States President Trump's Latest Controversial Foreign Policies Loom Large in Africa

Israel, 2007, Jerusalem Temple Mount, Al-Asqa Mosque by Andrew Shiva CC BY-SA 4.0

On 6 December 2017, United States (US) President Donald Trump announced that the US now recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel, sparking massive reactions around the world to this controversial decision, including the continent of Africa, where many are concerned about the consequences of this declaration.

The African Union reacted by issuing a statement questioning the rightness of this move and reiterating African's solidarity with Palestine. In parallel, Egypt and Senegal have called on the United Nations Security Council to share their concern regarding the consequences of this decision.

In Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco, protests have been organized in solidarity with Palestine.

Kari Ben Said, writer at the daily newspaper La Presse in Tunis, reports on multiple protests that took place all over Tunisia:

Trump donne aujourd’hui l’occasion aux peuples arabes et musulmans de reprendre conscience de l’enjeu d’une telle décision. Par ces manœuvres, le président des Etats-Unis prône implicitement l’expulsion des Palestiniens de leurs terres et réveille en conséquence la rage des peuples arabes. En témoigne la mobilisation spontanée, hier, de centaines de jeunes étudiants et lycéens sur la principale avenue de Tunis, l’Avenue Habib-Bourguiba.. Les manifestations hostiles à la décision de Donald Trump et de son Administration ont également eu lieu dans plusieurs autres gouvernorats de la Tunisie. Dans toutes les villes, ce sont les jeunes qui se sont mobilisés plus que les adultes. Les mêmes scènes se sont répétées à Sidi Bouzid, à Tozeur, à Kébili, à Gafsa et dans d’autres régions de la Tunisie. Dans toutes ces manifestations, le drapeau palestinien a été l’invité d’honneur et hissé à bout de bras.

Trump has given the Arabic and Muslim world the opportunity to re-assess the stakes of such decision. Through this move, the president of the United States implicitly advocates the expulsion of Palestinians from their lands and therefore flares up anger in Arabic countries. The spontaneous mobilisation that happened this week are prooof of such anger: hundreds of young university and high school students stood in the main avenue of Tunis, the Avenue Habib-Bourguiba […] Other hostile protests against Trump and his administration's decision were held in many other governorates of Tunisia. Across all the cities, mobilised youngsters outnumbered adults. The same scenarios were repeated in Sidi Bouzid, Tozeur, Kébili, Gafsa and in other regions of Tunisia. During all these protests, the Palestinian flag was the guest of honor and hoisted up on many shoulders.

In Mauritania, Dia Cheikh Tidiane, publishing director of the daily news site Rénovateur, fails to understand this decision:

C'est le comportement très peu diplomatique d’un homme dont la vision et la politique sont faussées par une méconnaissance totale du monde extérieur. Une ignorance qui explique le fait qu’il souffle sur les braises du vieux conflit du Moyen-Orient

This is not a very diplomatic strategy. Then again, it is coming from a man whose vision and politics are limited by his lack of awareness about the outside world. An ignorance which explains him blowing on the embers of the old Middle Eastern conflict.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, the shared feeling of incomprehension dominates as well. Many wonder about the legitimacy of this decision and its impact on stability in the Middle East. Hugues Richard Sama, a columnist for the Burkinabe daily news site L'Observateur, ponders what the rationale might be behind this declaration:

Au nom de la paix, Trump doit partir avant de commettre des dégâts plus désastreux. Il y a comme une forme de folie et d'irresponsabilité chez le chef de l'exécutif américain dont on se demande parfois s'il maîtrise les enjeux internationaux. Quand bien même les États-Unis auraient toujours soutenu leur protégé israélien, ils l'ont toujours fait avec une dose d'intelligence, de realpolitik. Et voici que ce septuagénaire aux cheveux peroxydés sorti d'on ne sait quelle planète, parachuté de sa Trump Tower dont il n'aurait jamais dû descendre, vient de briser un tabou et de rompre un consensus qui, même fragile, avait au moins le mérite d'exister 

For the sake of peace, Trump must go before committing any additional devastating damage. There is a touch of madness and irresponsibility in this American leader, whose understanding of international relation is questionnable at times. Even if the United States have always supported their Israeli protégé, they have always done so with a dose of intelligence, of realpolitik. And now this septuagenarian with peroxided hair from planet who-knows-what, parachuted from his Trump Tower which he should have never left, brakes a taboo and a consensus which, even if somewhat fragile, had the merit to exist.

Senegal was one of the first countries to officially react to the Trump's announcement. Historically, Senegal has always shown solidarity with the Palestinian cause. Indeed, the group Solidarity Senegal Palestine has existed for a few decades and asserts the preference of a two-state solution.

Madieye Mbodj who coordinates this collective, firmly condemns President Trump's decision:

Si nous laissons Donald Trump violer des résolutions internationales, qui dénonçaient justement la colonisation israélienne, y compris l’occupation de Jérusalem, nous pensons que ce serait une grave violation des droits du peuple palestinien, mais surtout, une incitation à la guerre.

If we let Donald Trump violate international resolutions, which clearly denounced the Israeli colonisation and the occupation of Jerusalem, we think that it will be a serious violation of the Palestinian's rights, but more importantly an incitement to war.

Finally, in Kenya, Docteur Monda, professor of political sciences, tries to evaluate the reasons and consequences of this choice:

The decision only plays into the hands of right-wing elements in the Likud-led coalition in Israel. While Mr. Trump could have his eye on strengthening his base and expanding his allies in the American Jewish community in America in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, this move could backfire because of his proclivity to abruptly shift positions on major topical issues. It also puts US allies like Kenya in a precarious position.

I wish he had read another American president’s thoughts on foreign policy.

Thomas Jefferson’s thinking is epitomised in this quote: ‘A spirit of justice and friendly accommodation is our duty and our interest to cultivate with all nations.’

While the continent's worries focus on the Jerusalem announcement at the moment, a few have also expressed worries about the impact of the decision on the continent. The recent travel ban imposed on Chad is one example of inexplicable decisions that have directly impacted Africa.

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