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Opinion

Ten Days that Shook the World

Most Probably, Russian President Vladimir Putin is jealous and anxious. He spent years working on stealing the limelight and enhancing his country’s image. Putin annexed Crimea, shook Ukraine’s stability, intervened militarily and salvaged Assad’s regime. He also made media appearances and seemed a necessary pathway for regional and international solutions.

Donald Trump does not hide his willingness to work with Putin, especially against ISIS. Yet, Trump also wants to put an end to the hesitant era of former U.S. President Barack Obama. Putin is aware of the significance of “America first” that is the top priority of the White House. Trump wants the U.S. to be strong, flourishing and successful, and Putin knows the fact that Washington might restore its original image by thwarting the coup led by him for years.

Putin has been surely assured by his advisers that the storm unleashed by Trump the moment he entered the White House will soon face the obstacles of international relations and U.S. divisions. The Cesar will not rest assured by hearing from his advisers that the U.S. President is just a man messing with bombs. The game has just started and results can’t be predicted.

Three days before Trump’s storm battered the U.S. and the world, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a speech in Davos. I was among the audience that was impressed by the heir of Mao Zedong’s defense of globalization and his direct warning to protectionism and the risks of the trade war. It was obvious that Xi was addressing Trump.

Since his inauguration, Trump has left the world in a state of anticipation, and concern. Many had believed that Trump will not keep good on his promises . But, it seems they had misunderstood him.

Within a short time, the world discovered that it is facing an unprecedented situation and that this president is not similar to any of his predecessors. The same applies to the terminology he uses.

Saying that power will be transferred from Washington to the citizens and that policies will be adopted based on “America first” is not an easy thing to do by a president, who appeared to be declaring war although he reached the White House via Twitter and not a military tank.

Through a series of executive orders, he delivered a strict message: The president is committed to what the candidate had said and that he will not cave in to media, elite’s reservations, human rights groups and previous trade agreements. Trump will also deal with issues that had been sidestepped by previous U.S. presidents.

Trump launched several battles –internal and global- starting with the wall at the Mexican border, pulling the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, hailing the Brexit and baring citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries. Lucky are Middle Easterners that the past ten exciting days didn’t witness an executive order to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The past days were disturbing internationally, trade wise and at the military level. We are facing a new president and maybe a new U.S. The Oval Office is like a reality TV show and some commercial, media, political and legal battles are looming.

When Americans elect a president, the world is compelled to go with the flow. I guess this is what Trump wanted. The only option for the world is to prepare itself because something has changed in the White House and the world.
I thought of a title for this article, a title that suits the president’s style and decisions. I found no better than that chosen by John Reed for his book on the October revolution “Ten Days that Shook the World.”

Ghassan Charbel

Ghassan Charbel

Ghassan Charbel is the editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

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