Not so Presidential: The biggest Middle East policy blunders during the US election

Published November 8th, 2016 - 15:59 GMT

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It’s been a long two years (two years!) of campaigning for the US presidential election, and for better or worse, it all ends on Nov. 8. Along the way, the candidates have managed to offend just about everyone - from Muslims to Mexicans to women everywhere - but we in the Middle East have been cringing and rolling our eyes so much it’s possible they’ll get stuck that way.

Here it is, the roundup of the worst foreign policy gaffes by US politicians during this election cycle.

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Gary Johnson - what is Aleppo? In a cringe-worthy interview with NBC, Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate, looked dumbfounded and asked “What is Aleppo?” when asked about the embattled city at the center of the Syrian conflict. “Are you kidding?” asked the interviewer. Sadly, he was not.
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Image 1 of 10:  1 / 10Gary Johnson - what is Aleppo? In a cringe-worthy interview with NBC, Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate, looked dumbfounded and asked “What is Aleppo?” when asked about the embattled city at the center of the Syrian conflict. “Are you kidding?” asked the interviewer. Sadly, he was not.

(Source: AFP)

Enlarge
Trump’s plan to defeat Daesh includes “knocking the hell out of” Iraq’s oil fields, with the hope of stemming the group’s cash flow. “We’re going to have so much money,” Trump promised. The problem is, while large parts of Daesh’s revenue does come from oil sales, most of their oil is in Syria, not Iraq.
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Image 2 of 10:  2 / 10Trump’s plan to defeat Daesh includes “knocking the hell out of” Iraq’s oil fields, with the hope of stemming the group’s cash flow. “We’re going to have so much money,” Trump promised. The problem is, while large parts of Daesh’s revenue does come from oil sales, most of their oil is in Syria, not Iraq.

(Source: AFP)

Enlarge
Aside from the geographical inconsistency with Trump plan to take Iraq’s oil, there's also the issue of national theft. But do you think this moral and legal dilemma would deter Trump? No way. “It’s not stealing, we are reimbursing ourselves,” Trump rationalized. Reimbursing for what? Your guess is as good as ours.
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Image 3 of 10:  3 / 10Aside from the geographical inconsistency with Trump plan to take Iraq’s oil, there's also the issue of national theft. But do you think this moral and legal dilemma would deter Trump? No way. “It’s not stealing, we are reimbursing ourselves,” Trump rationalized. Reimbursing for what? Your guess is as good as ours.

(Source: AFP)

Enlarge
Trump saying Iran gets to keep $150 BIL: Trump's been outspoken about the 2015 Iran deal, which is odd as he seems to know so little about it. His analysis? “We give them [Iran] $150 BIL, we get nothing.” Not quite. In fact, the US aren’t giving Iran anything.The money was already Iran’s, but frozen under economic sanctions..
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Image 4 of 10:  4 / 10Trump saying Iran gets to keep $150 BIL: Trump's been outspoken about the 2015 Iran deal, which is odd as he seems to know so little about it. His analysis? “We give them [Iran] $150 BIL, we get nothing.” Not quite. In fact, the US aren’t giving Iran anything.The money was already Iran’s, but frozen under economic sanctions..

(Source: AFP)

Enlarge
Back in the Republican primaries, presidential hopeful Ted Cruz went on a hyperbolic rant, vowing to “carpet bomb” Daesh “to see if sand glows in the dark.” But he also promised not to bomb Daesh capital, Raqqah, so as not to harm civilians. Interesting strategy, as carpet bombing while leaving civilians unharmed is a massive contradiction.
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Image 5 of 10:  5 / 10Back in the Republican primaries, presidential hopeful Ted Cruz went on a hyperbolic rant, vowing to “carpet bomb” Daesh “to see if sand glows in the dark.” But he also promised not to bomb Daesh capital, Raqqah, so as not to harm civilians. Interesting strategy, as carpet bombing while leaving civilians unharmed is a massive contradiction.

(Source: AFP)

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Neither candidate proved positive for Palestinians at the AIPAC conference, where Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both labelled Palestinians as “terrorists,” and Israel as “friends.” Clinton was notably hawkish, vowing to “ensure Israel maintains its qualitative military edge,' despite the country’s human rights abuse record.
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Image 6 of 10:  6 / 10Neither candidate proved positive for Palestinians at the AIPAC conference, where Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both labelled Palestinians as “terrorists,” and Israel as “friends.” Clinton was notably hawkish, vowing to “ensure Israel maintains its qualitative military edge," despite the country’s human rights abuse record.

(Source: AFP)

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There’s a serious bromance brewing between Donald Trump and Egyptian president Abed al Sisi, who said Trump would make a strong leader. Trump returned the love, praising Sisi as a “fantastic guy.” An interesting assessment, particularly since a 2015 report showed a notable increase in human rights abuse under Sisi. Sounds fantastic.
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Image 7 of 10:  7 / 10There’s a serious bromance brewing between Donald Trump and Egyptian president Abed al Sisi, who said Trump would make a strong leader. Trump returned the love, praising Sisi as a “fantastic guy.” An interesting assessment, particularly since a 2015 report showed a notable increase in human rights abuse under Sisi. Sounds fantastic.

(Source: AFP)

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In one of his most controversial statements, Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.” Aside from it being logistically impossible to verify one’s religion at airports, the statement was widely condemned for being racist.
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Image 8 of 10:  8 / 10In one of his most controversial statements, Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.” Aside from it being logistically impossible to verify one’s religion at airports, the statement was widely condemned for being racist.

(Source: Twitter)

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Donald Trump has expressed support for Syrian president Bashar Assad and his allies, saying: 'I don't like Assad at all, but Assad is killing ISIS.'  A ridiculous remark, as there's nothing Daesh has done that Assad has not, his regime reportedly waging a “systematic and widespread attack against [the Syrian] civilian population.”
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Image 9 of 10:  9 / 10Donald Trump has expressed support for Syrian president Bashar Assad and his allies, saying: "I don't like Assad at all, but Assad is killing ISIS." A ridiculous remark, as there's nothing Daesh has done that Assad has not, his regime reportedly waging a “systematic and widespread attack against [the Syrian] civilian population.”

(Source: AFP)

Enlarge
With all this in mind, it’s no surprise that support for the two remaining candidates is shockingly low in the Middle East. Polls reveal that 47 percent said they wouldn’t vote at all if given the chance, despite 78 percent believing that the US election would directly impact life in the Arab world.
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Image 10 of 10:  10 / 10With all this in mind, it’s no surprise that support for the two remaining candidates is shockingly low in the Middle East. Polls reveal that 47 percent said they wouldn’t vote at all if given the chance, despite 78 percent believing that the US election would directly impact life in the Arab world.

(Source: Twitter)

Enlarge

1

Gary Johnson - what is Aleppo? In a cringe-worthy interview with NBC, Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate, looked dumbfounded and asked “What is Aleppo?” when asked about the embattled city at the center of the Syrian conflict. “Are you kidding?” asked the interviewer. Sadly, he was not.

Image 1 of 10Gary Johnson - what is Aleppo? In a cringe-worthy interview with NBC, Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate, looked dumbfounded and asked “What is Aleppo?” when asked about the embattled city at the center of the Syrian conflict. “Are you kidding?” asked the interviewer. Sadly, he was not.

(Source: AFP)

2

Trump’s plan to defeat Daesh includes “knocking the hell out of” Iraq’s oil fields, with the hope of stemming the group’s cash flow. “We’re going to have so much money,” Trump promised. The problem is, while large parts of Daesh’s revenue does come from oil sales, most of their oil is in Syria, not Iraq.

Image 2 of 10Trump’s plan to defeat Daesh includes “knocking the hell out of” Iraq’s oil fields, with the hope of stemming the group’s cash flow. “We’re going to have so much money,” Trump promised. The problem is, while large parts of Daesh’s revenue does come from oil sales, most of their oil is in Syria, not Iraq.

(Source: AFP)

3

Aside from the geographical inconsistency with Trump plan to take Iraq’s oil, there's also the issue of national theft. But do you think this moral and legal dilemma would deter Trump? No way. “It’s not stealing, we are reimbursing ourselves,” Trump rationalized. Reimbursing for what? Your guess is as good as ours.

Image 3 of 10Aside from the geographical inconsistency with Trump plan to take Iraq’s oil, there's also the issue of national theft. But do you think this moral and legal dilemma would deter Trump? No way. “It’s not stealing, we are reimbursing ourselves,” Trump rationalized. Reimbursing for what? Your guess is as good as ours.

(Source: AFP)

4

Trump saying Iran gets to keep $150 BIL: Trump's been outspoken about the 2015 Iran deal, which is odd as he seems to know so little about it. His analysis? “We give them [Iran] $150 BIL, we get nothing.” Not quite. In fact, the US aren’t giving Iran anything.The money was already Iran’s, but frozen under economic sanctions..

Image 4 of 10Trump saying Iran gets to keep $150 BIL: Trump's been outspoken about the 2015 Iran deal, which is odd as he seems to know so little about it. His analysis? “We give them [Iran] $150 BIL, we get nothing.” Not quite. In fact, the US aren’t giving Iran anything.The money was already Iran’s, but frozen under economic sanctions..

(Source: AFP)

5

Back in the Republican primaries, presidential hopeful Ted Cruz went on a hyperbolic rant, vowing to “carpet bomb” Daesh “to see if sand glows in the dark.” But he also promised not to bomb Daesh capital, Raqqah, so as not to harm civilians. Interesting strategy, as carpet bombing while leaving civilians unharmed is a massive contradiction.

Image 5 of 10Back in the Republican primaries, presidential hopeful Ted Cruz went on a hyperbolic rant, vowing to “carpet bomb” Daesh “to see if sand glows in the dark.” But he also promised not to bomb Daesh capital, Raqqah, so as not to harm civilians. Interesting strategy, as carpet bombing while leaving civilians unharmed is a massive contradiction.

(Source: AFP)

6

Neither candidate proved positive for Palestinians at the AIPAC conference, where Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both labelled Palestinians as “terrorists,” and Israel as “friends.” Clinton was notably hawkish, vowing to “ensure Israel maintains its qualitative military edge,' despite the country’s human rights abuse record.

Image 6 of 10Neither candidate proved positive for Palestinians at the AIPAC conference, where Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both labelled Palestinians as “terrorists,” and Israel as “friends.” Clinton was notably hawkish, vowing to “ensure Israel maintains its qualitative military edge," despite the country’s human rights abuse record.

(Source: AFP)

7

There’s a serious bromance brewing between Donald Trump and Egyptian president Abed al Sisi, who said Trump would make a strong leader. Trump returned the love, praising Sisi as a “fantastic guy.” An interesting assessment, particularly since a 2015 report showed a notable increase in human rights abuse under Sisi. Sounds fantastic.

Image 7 of 10There’s a serious bromance brewing between Donald Trump and Egyptian president Abed al Sisi, who said Trump would make a strong leader. Trump returned the love, praising Sisi as a “fantastic guy.” An interesting assessment, particularly since a 2015 report showed a notable increase in human rights abuse under Sisi. Sounds fantastic.

(Source: AFP)

8

In one of his most controversial statements, Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.” Aside from it being logistically impossible to verify one’s religion at airports, the statement was widely condemned for being racist.

Image 8 of 10In one of his most controversial statements, Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.” Aside from it being logistically impossible to verify one’s religion at airports, the statement was widely condemned for being racist.

(Source: Twitter)

9

Donald Trump has expressed support for Syrian president Bashar Assad and his allies, saying: 'I don't like Assad at all, but Assad is killing ISIS.'  A ridiculous remark, as there's nothing Daesh has done that Assad has not, his regime reportedly waging a “systematic and widespread attack against [the Syrian] civilian population.”

Image 9 of 10Donald Trump has expressed support for Syrian president Bashar Assad and his allies, saying: "I don't like Assad at all, but Assad is killing ISIS." A ridiculous remark, as there's nothing Daesh has done that Assad has not, his regime reportedly waging a “systematic and widespread attack against [the Syrian] civilian population.”

(Source: AFP)

10

With all this in mind, it’s no surprise that support for the two remaining candidates is shockingly low in the Middle East. Polls reveal that 47 percent said they wouldn’t vote at all if given the chance, despite 78 percent believing that the US election would directly impact life in the Arab world.

Image 10 of 10With all this in mind, it’s no surprise that support for the two remaining candidates is shockingly low in the Middle East. Polls reveal that 47 percent said they wouldn’t vote at all if given the chance, despite 78 percent believing that the US election would directly impact life in the Arab world.

(Source: Twitter)

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