Many Arab states resent Clinton for her support of the Arab Spring and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt
Reaction in parts of the Middle East on Wednesday to Donald Trump’s surprise election victory was perhaps as unexpected as the win itself.
In Egypt, the leadership, including President Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, had trouble hiding its satisfaction with Hillary Clinton’s defeat.
According to Egyptian media, Sissi was the first world leader to call and congratulate Trump. He wished Trump well and expressed the hope that his term would lead to a flourishing of American-Egyptian ties.
What Sissi did not say out loud, but was expressed for him by one of his confidants in the Egyptian parliament, Mustafa Bakri, was that the Trump victory is seen as “a knockout blow for the Muslim Brotherhood.”
This satisfaction was echoed in other Arab countries — including the Gulf States, and even Saudi Arabia — where they have not forgotten or forgiven Clinton and US President Barack Obama for their support for the Arab Spring.
Arab leaders have never been able to understand the stance adopted by Clinton, when she was secretary of state, that supported 2012’s democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo.
The Egyptian media busied itself Wednesday publishing flattering quotes that Trump has made in the past about Sissi, and describing the “shock” in rival countries like Qatar, which support the Muslim Brotherhood.
One of the papers reported at length on the $1 million donation from Qatar to the Clinton Foundation. The Qatari-based Al Arab, by contrast, described Trump’s victory as “an unprecedented political earthquake.”
In the so-called pro-Muslim Brotherhood countries Qatar and Turkey, indeed, reaction was muted, with both adopting a wait-and-see attitude to Trump’s future Middle East policy.
Iran, meanwhile, was certainly not panicking. Brigadier General Hossein Salami, deputy commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, said that Trump’s election did not necessarily mean that Washington’s policies towards Iran would change, including on the nuclear deal that Trump has so bitterly criticized.
For the Palestinians, however, there was evident disappointment.
The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah would have preferred to see Clinton win and push Israel toward restarting peace negotiations where they left off. Still, their disappointment with Obama has also had an effect. For eight years they waited for a real development under him and it never came.
Now, the Palestinians believe there is even a smaller chance that Obama will initiate some kind of dramatic policy move or take up their case at the United Nations Security Council in the last two months of his term.
However, some Palestinian politicians do hold out hope that a Republican president could surprise. They privately note that some GOP presidents in the past — George H.W. Bush, for instance — have taken a tough line on Israel and the settlements. And they argue that Trump will not fulfill his campaign promise to move America’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.