US president-elect Donald Trump’s approval of Russian president Vladimir Putin is creating unease in the region, says Mazdak Rafaty.

Despite significant events in the Middle East and African (MEA) region such as the climate change conference, COP22, in Marrakech, the ongoing battle against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, the latest developments between oil cartel Opec members as well as its impact on the political and economical climate, it is impossible to ignore the outcome of the US presidential election.

However, it is also useless to get lost in the jungle of the often astounding statements of president-elect Donald Trump. Far more important is the question: what will his 'deal-based' political doctrine mean for the region?

Many aspects of the Middle East’s stability are connected to the future of the US-Russia relationship. The war on ISIS, the civil war in Syria, the nuclear deal with Iran and the relationship with Saudi Arabia and its regional allies could be directly affected if Mr Trump strikes a deal with Mr Putin.

Deeply concerned about the uncertainty they are now facing, 11 Arab states wrote a letter to the UN in November expressing their worries about the threat and wrongdoings of Iran in the region. A friendship between the US and Russia in no way secures a peaceful future for this part of the MEA region.

Over the past two decades, the US has continuously strengthened its position in Africa, supporting and building on the continent’s long-term future potential. The African Growth and Opportunity Act is the most effective of the measures the US has taken to establish a close relationship with African countries.

However, these measures are more geared toward development, making them rather 'bad deals' from a commercial point of view. Drawing back or even cancelling existing US activities in Africa would leave dangerous power vacuums.

On an economic level those vacuums could be filled by China and Europe, both of whom have strategic interests in Africa. However, on the security level the power vacuums could leave space for dangerous forces in many African countries.

Let’s hope Mr Trump has the ability to learn from the past and gives this strategically important region the attention it deserves. 

Mazdak Rafaty is managing partner of Ludwar International Consultancy and SME adviser to the joint Emirati-German Chamber of Commerce. Email:

This article is sourced from fDi Magazine
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