Thursday, February 2, 2017

Tantrums, threats and slammed phones: How Trump treats world leaders

Leaked excerpts of calls have Trump shouting and threatening invasions. On the other hand, he's 'very nice' to his friends


He has dumped on Muslims and banned them from the US, protested with "alternative facts" about the size of his inauguration party, and put Iran on "official notice" and threatened its hard-fought nuclear deal. And now, if reports are correct, Donald Trump is shouting down the phone at other world leaders. 
If a man's character is judged by how he treats others Trump has, in little over two weeks, shown the world his true colours. And leaked reports of his telephone calls only confirm them.
In a call on Sunday with the prime minister of Australia, Malcom Turnbull, Trump reportedly yelled and slammed the phone down mid-sentence as they clashed over a refugee deal which, the US president claimed, would see Australia send the US "the next Boston bombers".
During the 25-minute call Trump described an agreement that requires the US to accept 1,250 refugees from Australia as the "worst ever", according to a report in the Washington Post.
Trump then cut short the planned one-hour conversation, and took to Twitter to slam the "dumb deal". 
The official read-out of his conversation was very different. The the two had "emphasised the enduring strength and closeness of the US-Australia relationship that is critical for peace, stability, and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and globally".
And Trump later admitted to "tough phone calls" with his global counterparts, but don't worry about it.
"The world is in trouble, but we're going to straighten it out, okay? That's what I do - I fix things," Trump said.
"Believe me, when you hear about the tough phone calls I'm having - don't worry about it. Just don't worry about it.
"We're taken advantage of by every nation in the world, virtually. It's not going to happen anymore."
Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!
All that came days after a heated call with the president of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto, already a bete noire in the eyes of Trump for sending "murderers and rapists" across the border.
According to a transcript obtained by the AP news agency, Trump appeared to threaten to send in US troops to deal with “bad hombres”.
"You have a bunch of bad hombres down there," Trump apparently told Pena Nieto. "You aren’t doing enough to stop them. I think your military is scared. Our military isn’t, so I just might send them down to take care of it."
Both Mexican officials and the White House denied the exchange took place, but similar transcripts were released by Mexican news outlets - all saying the same thing: Trump had humiliated his Mexican counterpart.

The Middle East

But what of his dealings so far with the Middle East? Saudi Arabia, a country that produced the vast majority of the 9/11 team but a country exempt from Trump's visa bans, got the nice side of Trump - but the call still managed to cause ripples in other states. 
"The president requested, and the King agreed, to support safe zones in Syria and Yemen," a Saudi press statement said of the call on Monday. That message went straight to Russia, with Moscow saying it had never been consulted on the plans for Syria. 
Iran then came under the kosh for "destabilising" the region. Iran, with interests in Yemen and now placed on "official notice" by the Trump administration after a missile test, has not responded.
And so to the Muslim Brotherhood, a group Republican senators have repeatedly tried to ban in the US for "terrorist" links. Speaking to the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, the UAE's state news agency WAM reported Trump had agreed to clamp down on "groups that raise fake slogans and ideologies [and] aim to hide their criminal truth by spreading chaos and destruction".
No US president so far has accepted the Senate's moves to ban the group. A similar investigation in the UK, apparently written under pressure from Saudi Arabia, found no direct links to terrorism.

The Sisi call

Egypt's president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who kicked out his elected forerunner Mohamed Morsi in a bloody coup, was honoured with the first Trump call to a Middle East leader.
"Under a Trump administration, the United States of America will be a loyal friend, not simply an ally, that Egypt can count on", said the reports of the call. "President Trump underscored the United States remains strongly committed to the bilateral relationship, which has helped both countries overcome challenges in the region for decades."
Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile had a "very nice" conversation with Trump on 22 January, where the leaders agreed to "address the threats posed by Iran" and Trump "affirmed his unprecedented commitment to Israel's security". 
The phone call came the same day as Israel approved permits to build more than 560 units in three illegal settlements in East Jerusalem, according to Reuters.
So which side will Trump present to the next leader who picks up the phone? Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's president, is still waiting for his despite being a key US ally in the region.

Mr Nice, or Mr Nasty? Perhaps it's better to not even get a call. Best not to worry about it.

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