Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Zachary Burdette
Wednesday, November 9, 2016, 2:49 PM

How is the world responding to Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election? The New York Times rounds up the reactions of the key global actors.

Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Trump and called for “a constructive dialogue” with the president-elect, whose foreign policy platform has consistently called for greater engagement with Moscow. Ukrainian leadership, on the other hand, called on Trump to follow the Obama administration’s lead in backing Kiev in its conflict with Russia, notes Reuters. Similarly, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg emphasized that the United States has a treaty obligation under Article V to defend its allies in Europe from foreign aggression, noting that Article V has only been invoked following the 9/11 attacks.

The reaction of European leaders to Trump’s victory has been mixed. The mainstream parties of America’s traditional allies—namely Germany and France—stated they would continue to engage the United States, but were not enthusiastic about the outcome, the Wall Street Journal observes. French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel made statements laced with veiled criticisms of the values Trump has espoused in the campaign. Political leaders of Europe’s nationalist parties, on the other hand, rejoiced at Trump’s triumph, with leaders such as France’s Marine Le Pen and the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders voicing their enthusiasm for the outcome.

In the Middle East, uncertainty prevails regarding what exactly a Trump administration would mean for the region. Iranian leadership acknowledged that the Iran deal is in peril, but said they would nonetheless “try to continue to implement the nuclear agreement.” Benjamin Netanyahu expressed optimism for U.S.-Israeli relations, saying they would reach “ever greater heights.” Turkish and Egyptian leaders congratulated Trump, but Syrian and Saudi officials seemed less enthusiastic. A Syrian MP said the country was “cautiously optimistic” that Trump’s policy would benefit the regime, while Syrian rebels expressed concerns about Trump’s willingness to back opposition groups. Meanwhile, Afghan leaders congratulated Trump, and the Taliban called on him to withdraw U.S. troops from the country, Reuters writes.

Uncertainty about the future is most pervasive in Asia, regarding which the president-elect has threatened to withdraw troops if allies fail to increase host-nation support funding, as well as expressed comfort with allies building indigenous nuclear capabilities. Japan, South Korea, and Australia all voiced their desire for continued engagement with the United States, but governments throughout the continent are holding closed-door meetings on how to deal with a future Trump administration. For the time being, seems that U.S. allies in the region intend to continue business as usual. South Korea, for example, confirmed it was still moving forward with plans to deploy THAAD. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte expressed hope that Trump could help restore U.S.-Philippine relations, which have deteriorated after Obama’s criticism of Duterte’s extrajudicial killings.

China, on the other hand, is preparing for disputes over trade, the Times notes. While Xi Jinping dispatched a standard message of congratulations to Trump, another Chinese official outlined a defense of China’s trade policies in anticipation of greater protectionist sentiments under the new administration. He argued that both Americans and Chinese benefit from the bilateral relationship, and that the WTO framework was a sufficient mechanism to handle any disputes.

The reaction in Mexico was grim, the Washington Post notes. Trump has pledged to renegotiate NAFTA, to cut off immigration, to economically punish any U.S. companies that manufacture goods in Mexico, and to pressure Mexico to build a wall along the border or face high tariffs on cross-border trade. News of Trump’s victory prompted the peso to plummet. The Journal has more.

Cuba announced plans for new military exercises after learning about the election results, the AP observes. The Bastion Strategic Exercise is designed to prepare the military to deal with “a range of enemy actions.” Havana generally turns to the exercise when U.S.-Cuban tensions are unusually high. During the campaign, Trump promised to undo the Obama administration’s progress toward normalizing relations with Cuba.

Trump’s victory also calls into question the durability of the Paris climate change agreement, the AP writes. Trump has promised to reverse Obama’s domestic and international policies designed to combat climate change and promote clean energy sources, including the abrogation of America’s commitment to the Paris deal.

The U.S. intelligence community is preparing to brief Trump on the full range of American secrets and covert operations, the Post tells us. Some intelligence officials are uneasy about the transition, citing Trump’s refusal to acknowledge Russian interference in the election. Other intelligence officers fear that Trump may try to reinstate practices such as torture or secret prisons.

And amidst all this, coalition forces are slowly progressing deeper into Mosul proper, the Journal reports. The militants have leveraged the city’s dense urban terrain and civilian population to resist the coalition's advance. The Islamic State crucified five civilians it accused of providing information to coalition forces in an attempt to deter other residents from doing the same, Reuters writes.

Nonetheless, there is progress. The Peshmerga have completely cleared the village of Bashiqa outside Mosul. Iraqi forces recaptured Hamam al-Alil, but discovered a mass grave with 100 decapitated bodies. Authorities believe these are former Iraqi security forces and their families. This is one of several mass graves, and Iraqi forces expect to find more as they recapture more territory. The Post has more.

A U.S. airstrike may have killed 16 people in the town al-Heesha, 25 miles north of Raqqa, Reuters tells us. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the incident, but the military officials did not provide any information on the strike. The airstrike was part of U.S. air support for Kurdish forces spearheading the Raqqa offensive.

The Kremlin claims NATO submarines are following its battle group en route to Syria, Reuters writes. Russian officials stated that a Dutch submarine had maneuvered too close to the battle group, and that the Russians ships had chased it away.

Spain arrested four people for allegedly recruiting on behalf of militant Islamist groups, Reuters reports. The suspects were using social media to target young people as recruits. This bring’s Spain tally of arrests for extremism to 161 people over the past year.

Yemeni troops backed by Saudi Arabia killed 30 al-Qaeda militants last night, Reuters notes. The operation represents an attempt to crack down on al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which has benefited from the chaos of Yemen’s civil war. The raid targeted a farm near the port city of Mukalla in southern Yemen, which served as the AQAP headquarters until Hadi loyalists cleared it earlier this year.

Kenya is withdrawing its forces from a U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, Reuters tells us. The move is in retaliation to the firing of a Kenyan commander as the head of the peacekeeping operation. Nairobi completed the first phase of the withdrawal today and plans to keep pulling troops out on an unspecified timetable.

 

ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

 

Stewart Baker uploaded the latest episode of the Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast.

Chris Mirasola explained the key aspects of China’s new cybersecurity law.

J. Dana Stuster reset the Middle East Ticker with analysis on Syria, Turkey, and Egypt.

Jane Chong asked how the DOJ does and should handle pre-election disclosures about investigations.

 

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