Will Donald Trump Empower Strongmen in the Middle East?

US President-elect Donald Trump’s foreign policy will likely seek to support the “strongman vision” of authoritarian leaders in North Africa, said Karim Mezran, a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

Mezran joined Elissa Miller, assistant director with the Hariri Center, for a Facebook Live discussion on the future of US foreign policy in North Africa, specifically in Egypt and Libya, and the prospects for stability in the region.

Mezran said the future of US relations with Egypt and Libya is uncertain. Trump’s campaign rhetoric with regard to Libya, in particular, focused on the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Consequently, Miller said, the United States is not likely to play a key role in establishing stability in the region, focusing instead on military engagement.  

Ultimately, dynamics within global politics may deter Trump from throwing his weight behind authoritarian leaders, Mezran said. However, he added, due to warming relations between the United States and Egypt, “there will definitely be a change of perceptions at least.” 

Rachel Ansley is an editorial assistant at the Atlantic Council. 

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