The harsh testimony of Matthew, the American boy who threatened Trump in an Islamic State video

Matthew still remembers the moment his life changed: the night his mother and stepfather crossed the borders of Turkey with him into the territory of the self-styled Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

“We ran through a very dark area, full of wires … Not much was going through my head, except, ‘I need to run,'” he recalled when he told the program for the first time about his ordeal. Panorama from the BBC already Frontline, from the US public broadcaster PBS.

Matthew, born in the US, was brought to Syria when he was 8 years old and his face became known when IS militants used him in a video in which he threatened President Donald Trump.

Now 13, he is back home and living with his father, after being rescued and brought home by the U.S. military in 2018.

He says it’s a “sweet relief” to be back.

“What happened, happened. Everything was behind,” he tells the BBC.

“He was so small that he didn’t understand what was happening,” he adds.

Road to hell

It was in April 2015 that an apparently ordinary American family crossed into ISIS territory from the Turkish border province of Sanliurfa.

In Raqqa, the city claimed by Islamist fighters as their capital, Matthew’s stepfather, Moussa Elhassani, was sent for military training and became a sniper.

At 8 years old, Matthew went out of his way to make sense of his new home.

“When we were first in Raqqa, we stayed in the city. It was quite noisy from the gunshots. Every now and then an explosion would be heard, but it was far away. So we didn’t have much to worry about,” he recalls.

Matthew is currently 13 years old.

In early 2017, Matthew’s mother, Samantha Sally, sent an email to a sister in the United States.

He was desperately asking for money to help the family escape.

Enclosed, he also sent you some extremely disturbing videos about Matthew.

In one, stepfather Moussa Elhassani forced Matthew to put together a suicide belt.

The boy, who followed the instructions, recreated how he would welcome potential American rescuers, then kill them by detonating the explosives.

In another video, he was seen dismantling a loaded AK-47, challenged by his stepfather to do so in less than a minute.

The nightmare

One night, as the US-led coalition intensified its airstrikes on Raqqa, a bomb hit a neighboring house, which collapsed on the place where Matthew lived with his family.

The boy was miraculously saved: he managed to grope through the rubble and dust.

Soon after, in August 2017, Raqqa was in ruins, but the Islamic State was still certain of its victory.

Matthew aged 10 in a still from the IS propaganda video in which he was made to recite a message to Donald Trump

Matthew was used in several IS propaganda videos.

That’s when the group used Matthew to shoot a propaganda video threatening Trump.

“My message to Trump, the puppet of the Jews: Allah has promised us victory and He has promised you defeat“said the boy, reciting the message that had been made him learn by heart.

“This battle is not going to end in Raqqa or Mosul. It is going to end in your lands … So get ready, because the fight has just begun.”

Years later, the boy remembers that it was his stepfather who forced him to record the video and that he threatened him during filming.

“I was starting to lose control, as if I had had mental problems,” he says.

Matthew on a fishing trip with his father, Juan

Matthew currently lives with his father.

Soon after, Elhassani was killed in an alleged drone attack.

“I was glad because I didn’t like him, obviously,” Matthew said.

“I don’t think I should have been happy because a person died, but I was. We were all crying… with joy.”

The rescue

After the death of the stepfather, Matthew’s mother, Samantha Sally, paid human traffickers to get her and her four children out of Islamic State territory.

Matthew was hidden inside a barrel in the back of a truck in order to pass through the checkpoints.

When they reached Kurdish-controlled territory, they were held in a detention camp, and it was there in the winter of 2017 that the BBC began speaking to Sally.

The woman said that her husband had tricked her into taking his family to Syria and that he had no idea what he was planning.

Samantha Sally in a detention camp in Syria

Samantha Sally began speaking to the BBC in 2017.

Once in Raqqa, she said, the man had turned violent towards her.

The American admitted that during her stay there they had bought two Yazidi teenagers as slaves and that her husband regularly raped them.


After her return to the US, while in jail awaiting trial, Sally continued to defend her version that she had been deceived by her husband.

Although I had supported it “in their stupid companies“He insisted that he was not guilty of joining IS.

However, the BBC and PBS investigation uncovered evidence that undermined this story.

A member of the Elhassani family said that Moussa had become obsessed with IS in the months leading up to the family’s departure from the US and that he had seen him watching the group’s propaganda, including videos of executions, in the family’s home.

A friend of Sally’s also recalled a conversation with her in which she had told her that her husband felt called to join “the holy war.”

The investigation also revealed that Sally had made a series of trips to Hong Kong in the weeks before the family left the US and that she had deposited at least US$30.000 cash and gold in safe deposit boxes.

After nearly 12 months behind bars, Sally changed her story and pleaded guilty to financing terrorism as part of a plea deal.

The tests later showed that Sally had helped film the videos of her son with the suicide belt and the AK-47.

According to prosecutors, why she helped her husband join the Islamic State will likely never be known, although her defense argues that she was coerced by the controlling husband.

Since his return to the US Matthew has received counseling to help him deal with the trauma of everything that happened to him.

According to his doctors, he has improved and is doing well.

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The possible successors of President Trump within his family

  • Ivanka Trump and the president’s daughters-in-law have played important roles in the president’s administration

  • Lara Trump plans to run for a Senate seat

From the moment the president Donald Trump ran for president in 2016, his family supported his candidacy publicly, also getting involved in politics with the desire to see the Republican leader at the top of the world’s leading power; and as the years have passed, both his older children and their partners have been gaining more and more prominence, assuming more committed roles in his administration and re-election campaign.

Ivanka Trump, the president’s favorite daughter

Of her five children, the one who has undoubtedly had the most notoriety was Ivanka Trump. When her father won the election, she and her husband Jared KushnerThey left behind the luxurious life they led in Manhattan and both began working as advisers to the president in the White House. A time that they have taken advantage of by taking advantage of it to create a lucrative agenda of contacts in which they appear from world leaders and top executives, to donors and political activists.

During the first months of his father’s presidency, the tycoon’s favorite daughter had such a leading role that some even commented that she was acting as if she were a first lady, While Melania Trump He remained in New York accompanying the youngest of the president’s five children, Barron, to complete his school year.

Trump, in fact, went so far as to declare that Ivanka had no intention of being the first lady. But his role has been so prominent that the president on another occasion, while campaigning in Florida, in 2020 said: “Everyone is screaming Ivanka!”, to warn that Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential candidate, and now vice president-elect, “She won’t be the first female president! ” from the United States, he exclaimed.

Ivanka, at 38, was shaping up to be Trump’s most obvious successor. She was the only one who had the privilege of delivering her father’s introductory speech live the night he was officially invested to run for a second term; appeared before the Americans as “the proud daughter of the president of the people”, from an obvious honorary position. Ivanka has defended her father’s management actively and passively at all times throughout his four years in office. However, since the election results that gave Joe Biden an advantage were known, the president’s eldest daughter has kept a lower profile.

The former fashion model and businesswoman, who also participated very actively in the president’s reelection campaign, is one of those who seems to have accepted defeat in the family best.

Although it is unknown what their professional activities will focus on in the future, for now she and her husband have vacated the west wing of the White House in Washington, to move to the Big Apple of New York, now much more inhospitable by the pandemic.

Lara Trump’s possible Senate race

However, among women who are in their closest family environment, the one who does seem to aspire to a distinguished position is the president’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump.

The former television producer and coach, married to Eric Trump, the youngest son of the Republican billionaire, has said that plans to run for Senate in 2022“according to the New York Times, citing three” allies “who remained anonymous.

“She would be formidable”said Kellyanne Conway, a former White House official and Trump campaign manager in 2016. “You can raise money, raise awareness on key issues, and draw attention to your profile. Unlike many typical politicians, she connects with people and is a compelling messenger. ”

Lara Trump would pretend to occupy one of the tightest seats in the nation, in the event that the position currently held by Republican Senator Richard Burr, representative of the state of North Carolina, who plans to retire at the end of his term, becomes vacant. The list of candidates to replace him is long, but Lara Trump’s popularity it could facilitate your competitive race to fill your position.

“Is very charismaticHe understands retail politics well and generally has a natural instinct for politics, ”said Mercedes Schlapp, a Trump campaign adviser. “In North Carolina, in particular, it’s a household name and people know it. She worked very hard during the campaign and was very involved in many decisions at all times ”.

And it is that in recent months, the president’s daughter-in-law has managed to raise large amounts of money through the Internet, cultivating her own profile with a campaign program on YouTube and events throughout the country.

In the 2020 election, Trump won North Carolina by a smaller margin than four years ago, by only 1.3 percentage points, a sign that overall the state is now on a Democratic lean, so the Senate race will be hotly contested in any event.

Lara Trump and her husband Eric currently live in Westchester, New York, with their two young children. Little Carolina is actually named after the home state of the president’s daughter-in-law. Eyes are especially on her now, as she could be the one to continue defending the policies of President Trump’s administration.

Guilfoyle, daughter-in-law turned night star at Republican National Convention

The other daughter-in-law of the president, Kimberly Guilfoyle, (although she is not yet married to the first-born of the Republican leader), has developed, like her sister-in-law Ivanka, and her sister-in-law Lara, an important role during Trump’s re-election campaign as president of the finance committee of the president’s campaign

Guilfoyle, who worked at Fox News as a host and contributor, and previously was an assistant district attorney in San Francisco, will be long remembered especially for her speech at the Republican National Convention, where during her speech Supporting President Trump’s reelection, he raised his voice as he went, with increasing force, presenting an apocalyptic vision of what life would be like under the Democratic agenda. Dressed in red passion and a broad smile, she ended her speech with her arms raised from the emphasis and enthusiasm that she put into her proclamation, becoming the great star of the night.

According to a CNN post, Guilfoyle with her husband, Donald Trump Jr. they are taking steps to expand their influence in the Republican National Committee (RCN) and even to take over the party structure. The couple, CNN recounts, made it clear “to campaign and White House officials that they are not happy with the president of RNC, Ronna McDaniel, whom they consider have not done enough to win a close race.” .


United States: Trump leaves, his seeds remain

Now that Donald Trump has lost the election, it is important to do a forensic analysis of what went wrong with American democracy and, at the same time, acknowledge its “antibodies.”

Because although Trump has been definitively defeated, the caudillo continues to expand his attacks on democracy, denying democratic electoral procedures and promoting a kind of coup attempt, ridiculous and probably failed.

Specifically, Trumpism increases its possibilities for the future through what it has always done, denying reality and promoting the delegitimization of democracy in pursuit of the wishes and mobilizing myth of its leader. Thinking of his triumphant return, Trump presents himself not as the loser that he really is, but as a victim of treason. Propaganda wants to rewrite history through deliberate fiction, but fact-based history continues its course.

In this framework, we must not only ask ourselves what went wrong and what was right in the analysis of the anti-democratic phenomenon represented by this American leader, but also think from the past experiences of authoritarianism about the possible paths of Trumpism, in particular what its possibilities are. future in power, either through a new candidacy in 2024 or through “neo-Trumpism” in the future.

A losing battle should not be equated with a total victory. This was exactly what Hannah Arendt warned about in June 1945. The German-Jewish philosopher believed that fascism had not ended after her defeat and that the seeds of the fascist international were well planted globally and in South America in particular. . Arendt was able to clearly envision the continuity between classical fascism and the democratic reformulation of fascism that was populism.

But yes, from Juan Perón in Argentina to Silvio Berlusconi in Italy, populism left behind the constitutive elements of fascism such as xenophobia, absolute repression, totalitarian propaganda techniques and dictatorship, the new populisms, with Trumpism at the head and closely followed by Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Viktor Orban in Hungary and Matteo Salvini in Italy, many of those fascist elements have returned to populism, with the exception of course of the dictatorial dimension.

Trumpism, like these new populisms, can be defined as the “post-fascist moment” in which the freedom to think was replaced by a mixture of freedom to shop, racism and xenophobia, fascist-style lies, free pass to ignoring their own health and that of others and being totally obsessed with the leader.

The costs of this conception were many, and often lethal. Trump’s years in office have been a disaster from the point of view of democracy, which has been deeply denigrated but certainly not destroyed in the fascist style.

It is true that democratic institutions are relatively stronger than in the past, and yet we must not assume that they are so formidable as to reject the return of Trump, or future Trumpists on duty, such as his daughter Ivanka Trump, or Mike. Pence or Senators Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton or Ted Cruz. With or without Trump, democracy will again be attacked from within. Despite its failures, Trumpism will remain a feature of American politics.

We must think that leaders like Trump were possible because democracy manifested itself to society as less participatory, contemplative in the face of injustice, and elitist. In other words, against extreme right-wing populism, democracy needs to be more just and representative.

Constitutional democracy must defend itself against fascism and Trumpism, but it must also expand, be supportive and be less unequal. Based on its recent history, it is possible to say that Trumpism proposes for the future a terrible and implacable opposition, neither deliberation nor dialogue: more lies and conspiracy theories, the mobilizing myth of an unjust and “false” defeat and perhaps, more militarization of politics and violence and the insistence on the cult of its leader as a redemptive figure who constantly needs to be redeemed from the electoral failure and future judicial processes against him.

Finally, let’s stop at this point.Will Trump be investigated for gross negligence in the line of duty, and even promotion of diseases in conditions of a national and global health pandemic, and also for the alleged cases of corruption and incitement to repression and violence?

It is too early to predict whether the future Biden Administration will not oppose these options to solidify democracy and provide a warning to future Trumpists.

The opposite case is Gerald Ford’s famous presidential pardon of Richard Nixon for his crimes not to be investigated, which seem tenuous compared to the legal muddles that Trump may face. One thing is clear, past stories of democratic reconstruction teach the need for the defense of legality and legitimate politics to go hand in hand.

Look also

Look also

Coronavirus in the United States: the same pandemic, two countries facing each other


Goodbye to Trump | The Basque newspaper

As half the world breathes in relief at his defeat, Donald Trump and his followers continue to fuel the fire of lies created by a man who cannot believe that the most powerful country in the world no longer belongs to him. Although his ideas do not have the majority support of the Americans, we cannot forget that he has obtained 70 million votes. This makes me think: How did they let it get there? It may be too late to seek those responsible but it is clear that the Republican party has allowed a person like Trump to lead them and have run for president on two occasions.


U-turn in transatlantic relations with the triumph of Biden?

Drag. Paulina Astroza, Director of the UdeC European Studies Program.

Since AP announced that Joe Biden had surpassed the 270 large voters needed to win the presidential election, almost automatically – as if the tweets had been written and just waiting to press send – numerous European leaders sent their congratulations to the President elect. From the president of the European Commission, the presidents of the Council and European Parliament even the heads of government of the different European countries. Only Slovenia, country of origin of Melania, struck the jarring note. It is true that the relationships between EU Y EE.UU. were seriously damaged in the four years of the administration Trump, within whose first measures was to abandon the negotiations of a TLC that had been initiated with Obama. The withdrawal of the EE.UU. in foreign policy, the unilateralism of its decisions, the increase in tariffs on European products, the explicit support of Trump al Brexit, the constant siege against Angela Merkel and to a lesser extent against Macronare just some examples of the lack of harmony between both parts of the Atlantic. The same happened with the commitment to collective security established in art. V of the North Atlantic Treaty (NATO) that was not mentioned by Trump on his first visit to the headquarters in Brussels.

How much will the scene change in the era Biden? It will change tone, for sure. Biden I call Merkel, Macron, Martin y Johnson once known of his triumph (it is not known in what order). The message to the Franco-German duo was of the desire to rebuild ties. A Michael Martin, Primer Irish Minister, was supportive, even more so for having Biden himself Irish origins. As to Johnson, (traditionally the President-elected from USA called his British counterpart in Europe first, and this time it is not clear that this was the case), the warning made that the Brexi could not jeopardize the peace and stability between the two Irlandes was a blow to the attempts to Johnson of violating the Exit Agreement concluded with the EU and which puts this stability at risk. Relationships will probably be more cordial than with Trump but Europe no longer has the traditional trust in its ally. This is why a concept that is not new but that has had little progress, such as “Strategic Autonomy”, has begun to gain more strength. This concept has been gaining space in times of Covid-19 where in Europe the dependence of the Chinese market on supplies and medical technology and of EE.UU. in military matters.


Donald Trump uses the tactics of the autocrats he criticizes

MOSCOW – When the autocratic ruler of Belarus declared a landslide and implausible victory in the August elections and assumed a sixth term as presidentThe United States and other Western nations denounced what they said was a blatant defiance of the will of the electorate.

Last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared President Alexander Lukashenko’s victory a “fraud.” “We oppose the fact that he took an oath to himself. We know what the people of Belarus want. He wants something different, ”he added.

Just a month later, Pompeo’s boss, President Donald J. Trump, is copying the strategies from Lukashenko’s manual and he has joined the club of hostile leaders who, no matter what the voters have decided, declare themselves the winners of the elections.

Protesters in Minsk, Belarus, denouncing the presidential elections. Photo: Sergey Ponomarev / The New York Times.

Among the members of that club there are far more dictators, tyrants and potentates than leaders of what used to be known as the “free world”: countries that, led by the United States, for decades, have taught lessons about the need to hold elections and respect the results.

The parallelism is not exact. Trump participated in a free and fair democratic election. Most autocrats challenge voters even before they vote, by excluding real rivals from the ballot and flooding the airwaves with one-sided coverage.

But when the votes present real competition and the result works against them, they often ignore the result and claim that it is the work of foreign traitors, criminals and saboteurs and thus invalidate it. By refusing to accept the results of the election and working to delegitimize the vote, Trump is pursuing a similar strategy.

There is little indication that Trump can overcome the laws and institutions that ensure that the verdict of American voters prevails. The country has a free press, a strong and independent judiciary, election officials dedicated to an honest vote count, and strong political opposition, none of which exists in Belarus or Russia.

Yet the United States has never before had to force the incumbent president to admit a just defeat at the polls. And just by raising the possibility that he might have to be forced out of office, Trump has shattered the strong democratic tradition of a smooth transition.

The Damage already done by Trump’s stubbornness could be lasting. Ivan Krastev, an expert on Central and Eastern Europe at the Vienna Institute for Human Sciences, said Trump’s refusal to accept his defeat would “create a new model” for like-minded populists in Europe and elsewhere.

“When Trump won in 2016, the lesson was that they could trust democracy. Now they will not trust democracy and will do anything to stay in power, “he said. In what he called “the Lukashenko stage”, leaders will still want to hold elections, but “never lose.”

Among the undemocratic tactics that Trump has adopted are some commonly employed by leaders such as Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela and Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia: refusing to accept defeat and launch unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud.

Like Trump, those rulers feared that accepting defeat would expose them to prosecution once they left office. Trump doesn’t have to worry about being charged with war crimes and genocide, like Milosevic, but he does face a tangle of legal problems.

By insisting that he won a vote, although the results clearly show that he lost, he has drastically broken the rules of countries that consider themselves mature democracies.

That the United States has fallen into such bad company has sparked consternation and ridicule not only among Trump’s political enemies, but also among citizens of countries long accustomed to having leaders stick around longer than they should.

Even veteran dictators sometimes admit defeat. General Augusto Pinochet, who took power in 1973 in a military coup in Chile, accepted defeat in a 1988 constitutional referendum that would have allowed him to remain in office and resigned the presidency in 1990 after an opponent won a presidential vote.

But he remained Commander-in-Chief and became a senator for life immune from prosecution.

A 2018 study, based on elections around the world since 1950, found that only 12 percent of dictators who stand for election and lose at the polls they leave office peacefully.

“It is rare for dictators to resign, but when they do it is because, like Pinochet, they have a feasible alternative, such as rejoining the Army, which allows them to avoid accountability for human rights abuses,” states the One Earth study. Future, a research group.

Trump’s refusal to accept the election result has resonated in a special way in Latin America.

Trump used almost every tool in his foreign policy arsenal against the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, who fraudulently plotted a victory in the May 2018 elections, despite deep unpopularity and a disastrous economic crisis.

Most Western and Latin American nations denounced the vote. To punish Maduro, Trump banned Venezuelan bond transactions and imposed crippling sanctions on Venezuelan oil.

And in January 2019, Trump recognized the main opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, as the legitimate ruler of the country. Within days, dozens of European and Latin American allies followed the example of the US.

Trump condemned Maduro’s “usurpation of power” and said that all options, including military intervention, were on the table to remove Maduro from office and install Guaidó into the presidency.

Now Trump also refuses to accept the results of the elections.

Geoff Ramsey, director for Venezuela of the Washington Office of Latin American Affairs, a Washington-based research group, commented: “How does the United States government expect to call for free and fair elections in Venezuela when our own president does not recognize the results of a clean electoral process In our country? It is a gift of propaganda for Maduro and for all the other autocrats in the world and I guarantee that they are enjoying every minute of this. “

© 2020 The New York Times


Maduro on a possible dialogue with Donald Trump: ‘We would have understood each other’

The Venezuelan President, Nicolas MaduroHe assured this Thursday, November 19, 2020, that he had understood with the US president, Donald Trump, if you have established a dialogue Between both.

“We would have understood each other, Trump. I know this message will reach you, we would have understood each other based on relations of respect and cooperation between the United States and Venezuela, “Maduro said in an act of government.

In this regard, he stated that Trump wanted to speak to him “several times” and even had contacts “through special envoys“, but, finally,” the establishment forbade it. “

During the broadcast, Maduro said he received a message of “someone important” in EE.UU., who assured him that Trump wanted to talk to him and, if he had, “another rooster would crow.”

“But they sent Trump to the slaughterhouse, they sold him that (the opponent Juan) Guaidó he was the great leader of Venezuela and that it was going to give him the great victory of his international policy and he failed, “he added.

Instead, as the Venezuelan head of state continued, Trump opted for support a Guaidó and he did not dialogue with him, “a real man, a man with a word, a man who has a real people, who has a real Armed Force, who has real power” and “is not a stupid man playing power.”
“You preferred to bet on a fool and that fool led you to defeat,” he concluded.

The US recognizes Guaidó as Acting President Venezuela and not Maduro, a position that the opposition took on in January 2019 as leader of the National Assembly (AN, Parliament) after a personal reading of the Constitution that allowed him to be for 30 days.

This same Monday, the United States confirmed James Story as new ambassador in Venezuela, the first in ten years, despite the fact that both countries have broken their diplomatic relations and that Washington does not have diplomatic personnel in its embassy in Caracas.

The Senate of the United States confirmed in a vote by acclamation the appointment of James Broward Story, proposed last May to the position by Trump.

Guaidó expresses his satisfaction at the appointment of Story

For his part, Guaidó sent a letter to Story in which he expressed his “joy and satisfaction” for what he described as his appointment as ambassador to Venezuela as an “important step”, as well as “one more recognition of his successful diplomatic career.”

“This is a timely opportunity to express to you, on behalf of my country, our gratitude for your sensitivity and permanent commitment to helping and serving the venezuelan more vulnerable and make the fight we wage against the usurping regime of Nicolás Maduro their own, with the assurance that we will be able to rescue our democracy, “the letter added.

Guaidó was also convinced that under his new responsibilities, “the alliances strategic between “the US and Venezuela” in favor of the rescue “of democracy in the Caribbean country” and a prosperous and secure future for our continent. “


Populism after Trump

This Sunday we are trying to baptize a political phenomenon that is difficult to define and, therefore, to name. New populism, trumpismo, sentimentalization of politics, reactionary wave … it is difficult to understand what unites Trump, a Bolsonaro oa Orban, what differentiates them from Boris Johnson, from Le Pen, from Abascal… what recent years have in common in western democracies.

We will try to do that this Sunday at 4:00 p.m. in Utopias, which in this case will be driven by Antonio Vicente. It will be a transoceanic baptism with two political scientists from Spain and two from the United States. On this side of the Atlantic, the professor at the Carlos III University Pablo Simon and the political scientist and former opinion director of El País, Máriam Martínez-Bascuñán. On the other side, on the east coast, in New York, will be Professor Ignasi Gozalo-Salellas, author of the compilation of essays The Trump symptom. From Connecticut, the political scientist and member of Politikon participates, Roger Senserrich.

With them we will analyze the political movements that are changing the political map of the West, their causes, their scope, their regional differences and, of course, the alternative movements to these populist currents.


Europe would have benefited from a few more years of Trump

One of the most recurrent common places among those who make European politics and those of us who comment on it is Jean Monnet’s phrase according to which “Europe will be forged in crises.” It has turned out to be true many times: had it not been for the crisis exchange rate of the early 1990s, the economic crisis of 2008 or the current crisis of the coronavirus, it is very likely that the euro would not have been founded, nor would the union levels that we currently enjoy would have been achieved. But it is a dangerous phrase: it seems to affirm, also, that when things go well (if that happens one day, in the near future), the European Union it will stand still.

But despite the risks, let me use it one more time: the biggest inadvertent crisis the EU has suffered in the last four years, when it was just emerging from the euro crisis, has its own name: Donald Trump. Trump started a trade war with the EU, encouraged Boris Johnson to carry out a hard Brexit, threatened to remove the United States from NATO, he became the political reference for the leaders of the two countries that do the most to break the founding values ​​of the EU, Poland and Hungary, he tried to impose his criteria for the use of technology on Europe and fooled with the leader of the closest adversary from the EU, Russia.

But once again that crisis ‘forged’ Europe. European countries not only committed (not very credibly, certainly) to increase defense spending to meet the requirements of the OTAN and demanded by Trump, but even began to talk about a possible European army with a self defense strategy. When Trump imposed tariffs on European imports, The EU responded by imposing its own on the importation of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, an emblem of America that votes for Trump, which ended up taking part of its production out of the United States. The EU started talking about something akin to industrial policies to strengthen the european technology, such as the one developed by Ericsson or Nokia for 5G networks. It even had, for the first time, a relatively credible tool to force unruly countries to comply with the rule of law: to condition the receipt of aid on compliance.

The two words that were repeated in the European Comission, the ‘think tanks’ and among the European intellectuals were “strategic autonomy”. The idyll with the United States, which had lasted since the end of World War II, was ending; Trump, it was thought, had done nothing but accelerate a trend that was already there underground, and now Europeans had to learn to manage alone in military, commercial and geostrategic matters. The process would be slow. Yet it was inevitable and unstoppable.

But was it? As soon as Joe Biden won the presidential election, doubts began to be expressed. First, the German Defense Minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, public an article in the Brussels newspaper ‘‘in which he said that “in a world marked by increasing competition for power, the West will only be able to stand firm and defend its interests to the extent that it remains united. Europe continues to depend on the United States for its military protection, both nuclear and conventional, but the United States will not be able to carry the banner of Western values ​​alone. In an unusual act, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, disavowed it in an interview: “I strongly disagree with the German Defense Minister in ‘Politico,” he said. “I think it is a historical misinterpretation. Luckily, if I am correct, the Chancellor [Merkel] does not share this point of view. The United States will only respect us as allies if we are honest, and if we are sovereign when it comes to our defense. ” Trump’s trade for Biden, Macron said, it should be an opportunity to “continue to build our independence in the same way that the United States and China do.” In an even more unusual act, Kramp-Karrenbauer publicly stated that he agreed with the French president, but not entirely: “Without the nuclear and conventional capabilities of the United States, Germany and Europe cannot protect themselves. It is the harsh reality ”.

The two sides of the discussion are somewhat right: strategic autonomy is the objective that the EU should pursue, but it is doubtful that it has the political capital necessary to achieve it in the medium term. Meanwhile, dependence on the United States will persist. But, in any case, this public shock shows that the presence of Trump allowed to forge consensus which, in its absence, will be more difficult to sustain. His presence functioned as a accelerator of the tasks that the EU had pending but He was in no hurry to do it, and as much as we celebrate his departure from power, it is possible that the European tendency to leave things by halves is underpinning. Why should we continue with the frenetic pace of autonomous technological, military and commercial plans if old America is back in Washington, the one that was politically hardened in the Cold War and the sacred notion of protecting Europe?

Trump, in that sense, leaves a huge void in European politics. All analysts have been hoarse to repeat that the good old days will not return and that, no matter how much the Democrats rule, or later a more traditional version of republicanism, United States it will continue to urge Europeans to, for example, spend more on defense or align with them in the confrontation with China. But not seeing that man in the White House will make us relax. Macron It will try not to make it happen, but it will. And, in a sense, we will be able to invoke Monnet again, but with a twist: “The Trump presidency was a crisis that allowed Europe to be forged, but it was too short a crisis.”


Palestinians and a Democratic President in the White House

On November 17, 2020, the Palestinian Authority announced that it would restore security cooperation with Israel and agreed to receive the tax money that Israel had collected for them.

But for the near future, the prospects for the Palestinian Authority (PA) remain bleak. The Arab Spring changed priorities in the Middle East. Observers must be careful to avoid the common mistake of judging the PA’s perspectives through the dual vision of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while the truest and broader assessment should be regional. Palestinians must make decisions with an eye toward their natural environment – the Sunni Arab world – and not Turkey, Iran, or the Shiite world in general. In this new reality, the Sunni Arabs are on the side of Israel and not the Palestinians.

What makes matters even worse for PA leader Mahmoud Abbas is that the Israeli-Arab Sunni alliance attracts European powers such as France due to Turkish-French tensions in the Mediterranean and its satellite war in Libya. President-elect Biden cannot ignore these real facts on the ground and dismiss them. What he can do is convince the PA and Israel to come back to the negotiating table, not to challenge the Sunni-Israeli Arab alliance, but to join the PA.

The PA’s hesitation in this regard is to lose Turkey and Iran as diplomatic cards to use and to be forced to rely on Qatar to balance the Gulf states and Saudi Arabia. During Trump’s tenure, this was not possible. In the Biden presidency, the PA hopes to be able to keep the Sunni world while keeping Turkey and Qatar aside, but not losing them. This is especially important to Mahmoud Abbas in defiance of political rival Mohammed Dahlan who lives in the United Arab Emirates. Relying only on the Gulf with no other cards to play means strengthening Dahlan loyalists in the West Bank [Cisjordania] and the Palestinian diaspora.

Abbas’s shuffling of letters with the bogus reconciliation talks in Turkey led by Qatari proxies, Jibril Rajoub (Fatah) and Salah Aruri (Hamas), was deemed anti-Trump. In the Sunni Arab world, however, the move was seen as dangerous.

Cooperation between Fatah and Hamas lit the Arab warning lights

The first Arab state to be alarmed by the talks between Fatah and Hamas was Jordan. The prospect of Hamas gaining power in the West Bank is a horror for the Hashemite Kingdom. Although the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is a subsidiary, is a legitimate power in Jordan – as a political party – Hamas is seen as the dangerous armed wing of the Muslim Brotherhood.

According to Palestinian sources, Jordan recently took advantage of the visit of an important American figure, who has the doors open from both Trump and Biden, to convince Mahmoud Abbas to withdraw from the course dictated by Hamas and return to the negotiating table with Israel. . The American promised to work with Biden, once elected, to renew talks with Israel. Apparently, Jordan also applied its diplomacy in Washington in this regard.

During the bogus talks between Rajoub’s Fatah and Aruri’s Hamas in Turkey, Mahmoud Abbas considered giving his approval to the elections with a joint Hamas and Fatah list, but not holding the elections, in order to give new relevance. to the long-forgotten and deviant “Palestinian problem.”

Negotiations on the terms of the PLO

On November 17, 2020, the PA announced that it would restore security cooperation between the PA and Israel, accept $ 100 million per month from taxes collected for them by Israel, and restore the salaries of public workers. With that, Abbas is signaling to the Biden administration his willingness to return to negotiations, but on the terms of the PLO. That includes the restoration of American aid, the repeal of Trump’s policies on Jerusalem and the US Embassy, ​​the 1967 borders, and a solution for Palestinian refugees.

Those maximalist bargaining points do not fit the new mood of Sunni Arab countries that prefer the “deal” approach and compromise on the borders in the West Bank rather than the PLO myth of “people’s struggle” – even as a “political struggle”. These Sunni countries accepted Trump’s measures regarding Jerusalem, but the issue of Jerusalem is very sensitive in the inter-Arab-Muslim struggles and deserves a separate examination.

One issue that worries Sunni Arab powers is the refocusing on human rights issues that Biden, like Obama, will almost certainly adopt. Concerned Saudi and Egyptian voices are already being heard.

The news that President Trump lost the election was greeted in Ramallah with relief, not so much because of the political prospects of resuming the peace talks, but because the Trump plan had overturned the PLO doctrine of the liberation of Palestine through the ” fight, “whether military or political. The path of “struggle” brought the Palestinians to a standstill; the “deal” path led to the normalization of the peace treaties between Israel and the Gulf states. Today, the term “peace” is associated with the Gulf and not with Palestine, and the incentive for Western leaders to invest in the Palestinian problem to win their Nobel prizes is drastically reduced.

Fuente: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

Pinhas Inbari is a veteran Arab affairs correspondent who previously reported for Israel Radio and the newspaper Al Hamishmar, and currently works as an analyst for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.