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View From The Middle East: Trump Victory Reaction


Let's go next to the city of Istanbul, Turkey. It's on the dividing line between Europe and Asia. And it's where NPR's Peter Kenyon covers the Middle East. He's been listening to responses to last night's election here, what people are saying there. Hi, Peter.


INSKEEP: What are you hearing?

KENYON: Well, besides shock, which I guess isn't surprising. Reactions are ranging from dismay to celebration. On the downside, a young Egyptian woman says she's worried. She thinks Trump hates Muslims. And an Egyptian doctor who asked that his name not be used says Trump's controversial pledge on immigration, especially to block Muslims, has really resonated in the region. Here's how he put it.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Muslims are worried about if he - they will have to come back to their home country. So it will have a negative effect about Arabic countries and also the Muslims in the U.S.

KENYON: Now, Mideast governments are lining up to congratulate Mr. Trump. There's been some praise for his tough-guy image, hope for a change in policy. Of course, what kind of change, that's the big question.

INSKEEP: You used that word celebration, Peter. Can you tell me a little bit more about that? What are - who's celebrating and what are they celebrating exactly?

KENYON: Well, let me take you to one of the generals who's leading the anti-ISIS operation in Mosul. He was quite enthusiastic. He says Trump will be good for America's reputation. "I want to see the superpower," that's his quote. On the other hand, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's being pretty cautious. He simply says let's not try to predict this man's policies based on his campaign rhetoric. And that's Iraq.

And over next door in Damascus, the Syrian regime may be fairly happy with this development. They like his strong rhetoric on crushing Islamic state forces. That's what they want to do in Aleppo, where there's also a large number of civilians trapped right now. Donald Trump, remember, he's not tied to this Assad must go comment that was popular in the Obama administration. And he says he wants to get along with Assad's main ally, Vladimir Putin, over in Russia. Opposition rebels are sad Clinton lost because she called for a no-fly zone. But they also wonder if Trump might be more assertive.

INSKEEP: I'm trying to remember some of the different things that Donald Trump has said about fighting ISIS, which is what you're talking about there, fighting ISIS in Iraq, fighting ISIS in Syria.

He at one point said that he had a plan to defeat ISIS extremely quickly. He then said it was a secret plan. He then said in a speech he would ask his generals to come up with a plan. There's not a lot of clarity on exactly what he wants to do, except that he's promised to do something quickly.

KENYON: I think that's right. And I think what the reaction is, we're hearing - the immediate reaction is, well, here's somebody who's going to do something, let's see what it is.

INSKEEP: And there are people who are desperate for some kind of solution I would imagine, given the scope of the war there?

KENYON: Sure, absolutely.

INSKEEP: Is there much eagerness for a deeper - a specifically deeper United States involvement? Troops on the ground, for example, which I believe Trump has said he wouldn't do, but some kind of deeper U.S. involvement there?

KENYON: There's a lot of conflicting arguments about that. And welcoming American troops is not something you see very often. Obviously the rebels want more American support. And they would welcome something if it was targeted at the regime, which it hasn't been so far.

INSKEEP: Very briefly, what if he does cancel the nuclear deal with Iran? Which is something specific that Trump has promised to do.

KENYON: Very big blow I would say to Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani. And he's up for re-election next year. Iran's foreign minister just called on Trump to uphold the nuclear deal. If however he scraps it as he's promised, that's economic pain for Iran and a return to confrontation, possibly including a nuclear buildup.

INSKEEP: I guess we were reminded last year the deal also includes other nations, European nations among others, and Russia as far as that's concerned. Peter, thanks very much.

KENYON: You're welcome, Steve.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Peter Kenyon. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.