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Trump’s goals and tasks will yet change over time: interview

As billionaire Donald Trump comes to power in U.S., many experts, political analysts and politicians are trying to guess and making forecasts of possible changes in the world, the relations between the Western countries and between the West and the other countries. An outspoken critic of NATO’s actions in hot spots in the world, who promises revision of the U.S. policy in many areas, including towards Russia over Ukraine and Syria, has come to power. What will Trump’s future administration suggest to settle global security problems, starting from Syria up to Ukraine, will there be a thaw in the relations of Washington and Moscow and in the tense ties with Ankara. Read the answers to these questions in EADaily’s interview with Arthur Martirosyan, political analyst, specialist in talks, senior consultant at CM&Partners.

A man not belonging to “the system” has come to power in U.S. How will it change the foreign policy of the United States, particularly, in the Middle East and neighboring Caucasus?

I do not think that Trump does not belong to the system. He has no experience of civil service, in foreign policy, legislative or military field. However, he is not new in political and economic system of U.S. He knows well how Washington works. In the U.S. political system, it is important to understand what interest groups back the president and how they set the agenda and the necessity of protecting the national interests of U.S.

In foreign policy, as Trump said during the presidential race, he is ready to make fundamental changes in all lines – Euro-Atlantic, Pacific, and most notably in the Middle East. Ideological interventionism is not for him. He often builds his business pragmatism basing on foreign policy. Therefore, (neo)-realistic paradigm with elements of isolationism is what characteristic of him. To become a great power again, America needs to recollect itself. It is too early to say if he will be acting the way he promised to do. This will become clear only after he forces mutually connected blocs in the administration: foreign policy, national security and foreign economy. In the history of the U.S. presidency there are two major paradigms: the president with vision and strategy creates his team and the president creates his team that sets goals, tasks and strategy. Trump will actually make a hybrid of these two. That is why his pre-election statements are yet to be corrected. The level of corrections will depend on the political configuration of his team.

As for the Middle East, he said the stance on Israel will be left unchanged, the policy towards Iran will be toughened up to possible revision of the nuclear deal, and the new thing will be the cooperation with Russia and Syria against ISIS and reformation of the relations with NATO that will affect the Middle East. The foreign policy towards Caucasus will depend on the goals and tasks.

Will they lift the sanctions against Russia under Trump? Will Moscow and Washington start cooperating in such sensitive issues as Syria and Ukraine? Trump’s rivals called him Moscow’s henchman throughout the presidential race. How will the situation develop in fact?

It will not be easy for him to lift the sanctions, as he will not get the necessary support from the Republicans in the Congress. The only efficient strategy is to make the authorities of Ukraine adopt a modus vivendi agreed upon with Russia and Europeans on Donbass as well as to close the Crimean issue. This will make the sanctions atavistic. Judging from his style of negotiating and experience of business deals, it is quite probable that he may try to use lifting of the sanctions in the future to achieve agreements on other issues on the broad agenda with Russia. He will need a wider cooperation with Russia to achieve the goals he had declared concerning Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Could you assess the behavior of the Armenian community during the election process? Where did it stand on?

It is hard to assess something that does not exist i.e. the united stance of the Armenian community on the presidential election in U.S. Major organizations of the community failed to develop a single position, as one of them finally spoiled its relationships with Clinton as secretary of state. The Armenian organizations acted more harmoniously during the elections to the Congress.

At the beginning of Obama’s presidency, U.S. initiated an Armenian-Turkish normalization process, which has reached a stalemate however. Do you anticipate any new diplomatic projects from the new administration?

I do not think that Trump will have time to deal with the Armenian-Turkish issues within the coming years or even during his term. In addition, it is a priority for U.S. to settle its own relations with Turkey. That is why I suppose the new administration will return to the Armenian issue, if it does it, just to use it to press Turkey.

Will Washington’s stance on Turkey change with Trump taking office in the White House? The problem with extradition of the Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen appears to have spoiled the relations of the two NATO allies.

The relations of U.S. and Turkey are experiencing hard times. There are serious contradictions that Obama’s administration neutralized due to the country’s geo-strategic dependence on Turkey over Syria and Iraq. It is hard to say how Trump will act, but there will hardly be any breakthroughs in the issues important to Armenians.

According to many political analysts, Trump as a politician gets a mixed reaction even from his supporters in the Republican Party. How independent can he act? Will the system let him implement his pre-election promises?

We have touched upon this issue above. However, concerning the election campaign, I do not think that anything may hold Trump from changing his stance. The saying “it is not words that count but deeds” is about Trump as never before. Everyone anticipates forecasts to lift the uncertainty, but the only accurate forecast now is that Trump and his team will be making changes, but it is hard to forecast what particular changes it will be, in what succession and whether the way he promised to do. The situation will become known with every new day until January 20. However, even after the inauguration ceremony, it will be necessary to track his first specific steps.

Interviewed by Arshaluys Mghdesyan

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