Voice from the Arab press: Is Trump really a racist?

There are thousands of honest expatriates whose employers greatly depend on them.

LIBYANS PROTEST the Turkish parliament’s decision to send its forces to Libya, in Benghazi on January 3 (photo credit: REUTERS/ESAM OMRAN AL-FETORI)
LIBYANS PROTEST the Turkish parliament’s decision to send its forces to Libya, in Benghazi on January 3
Al-Qabas, Kuwait, June 19
A growing number of labor migrants have been deported from Kuwait in recent months after violating their visa requirements. Many others have evaded deportation and chosen to stay in the country until further notice. This raises an important question: How long will these workers remain unemployed in Kuwait? How long will they require government assistance programs for food, housing and education? What is the fate of all these people, especially those who violated Kuwaiti immigration law? How will these individuals be dealt with from  legal, social, political and moral standpoints?
My personal view is that passing strict, archaic laws to deal with these individuals is illogical. We must be more flexible in how we deal with migrant laborers. Take, for example, a laborer who is now nearing his 60s. This expatriate first arrived in Kuwait in his mid-20s to work in a respectable job, which he has held ever since. Now, at retirement age, this man is being asked to leave the country he has called home for the past three decades, because we provide work visas only to those under the age of 40. How is this decision right? If this employee is committed to Kuwait and respects its laws, why should he be discriminated against just because another expatriate violated the law?
A MAID washes a car in front of her employers’ house in Kuwait. (Gayle St. Claire/Reuters)A MAID washes a car in front of her employers’ house in Kuwait. (Gayle St. Claire/Reuters)
I hope that honest, dignified and law-abiding men and women who work in our country will not be mistreated by our institutions simply because they belong to a broader collective that is demonized and vilified. There are thousands of honest, respectful and conscientious expatriates whose employers greatly depend on them. They must not be mistreated just because a handful of other migrants abused Kuwaiti migration laws. – Iqbal al-Ahmad

Al-Ittihad, UAE, June 18
Too many opportunities have been lost over the past decade to stop the ongoing crisis in Libya. However, the recently issued Cairo Declaration, drawn up in between Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and leaders of the Libyan National Army [led by renegade general Khalifa Haftar] presents a real and perhaps final opportunity to save Libya.
Turkish intervention in Libya exacerbated the civil war unfolding in the country and pushed violence to unprecedented levels. [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan is eyeing Libya’s gas and oil in an effort to compensate for the loss of lives among his militias.
The Egyptian initiative wasn’t born out of thin air. Rather, it is a direct continuation of previous diplomatic initiatives aimed at establishing a permanent ceasefire in Libya. It is built upon the same tenets proposed by former UN envoy Ghassan Salame in September 2017, the Paris Conference held in May 2018, and the Berlin Conference held in November 2019.
The Cairo Declaration builds on ideas and proposals that were included in previous initiatives, yet provides new approaches to ending the bloodshed, chief of which is the formation of a Libyan Presidential Council. Under the Egyptian initiative, this council would be elected through electoral assemblies in each of the three regions that make up Libya: Barqa, Fezzan, and Tripoli. This would not only provide greater representation for the Libyan people, but also ensure that tribal leaders are involved and that the United Nations directly observes the electoral process.
In order to avoid any misinterpretation of this mechanism, the declaration reaffirms Libya’s sovereignty and independence, and calls for the dismantling of all militias and the expulsion of foreign mercenaries, who represent foreign interests and pose a grave danger to the country.
Unfortunately, Libya’s Government of National Accord already rejected this proposal, relying, this time, on Turkey’s backing. That said, the widespread Arab and international support for the Cairo Declaration is undermining Erdogan’s calculus, forcing the Libyan government back to the negotiating table. Nevertheless, Erdogan’s regime will seek to undermine the declaration in any way possible, while exploiting the political turmoil to advance his grip over Libya.
Therefore, the only way to save Libya at this point – perhaps for the last time – is to build an international consensus in support of Egypt’s initiative backed not only by Arab countries, but also by the UN Security Council. This would provide the Cairo Declaration with the legal backing and legitimacy it needs to force the warring parties to accept a ceasefire and end one of the region’s most protracted crises. – Waheed Abdul Majeed

Asharq al-Awsat, London, June 19
As the wave of anger sparked by the death of George Floyd in America begins to wane around the world, now is a good time to take a step back and examine what these global protests managed to achieve. Unfortunately, I fear they caused more harm than good. Instead of fostering greater empathy, they exacerbated the dividing lines that exist among us.
I say this for two main reasons.
First, Floyd’s death was hijacked by populists as an excuse to bash Western democracy. Instead of criticizing the actions that led to his unfortunate death, or focusing on the use of force by police officers, leaders of the protest movement called to bring down “American imperialism.” The United States, alongside other Western democracies, was accused of representing “racist values.”
Second, protest leaders around the world suggested that Floyd was killed specifically because he was black. In doing so, they completely overlooked the fact that the arrest technique used against Floyd is also used by dozens of other police forces around the world, including in countries that are predominantly white. They also ignore the fact that many nonblack Americans have lost their lives in the same unfortunate way. Once again, instead of focusing on the actual incident and the wrongdoing of the police officers involved, the Black Lives Matter movement chose to vilify all police officers around the world.
Surely, American society, like other societies, is not devoid of racism. Slavery, too, was not unique to America. It was an integral part of human existence for many centuries, and still exists in some societies. This might be a shameful truth, but it’s still the truth. Instead of delegitimizing entire political systems and institutions, public anger should be directed against unpacking these difficult historical realities that have shaped our world. Only then will we be able to come to terms with the inequalities that have shaped human existence since the dawn of time and begin building more just societies. – Amir Taheri
Al-Jazirah, Saudi Arabia, June 19
It is no secret that US President Donald Trump has been repeatedly accused of racism. There is also no doubt that Trump is a polarizing figure, characterized by narcissism and stubbornness. Most of those who accuse him of racism cite the president’s provocative statements pertaining to US minorities and Muslims, his immigration bans, his trade wars, and his controversial deportation policies.
However, today we know that much of Trump’s racist policies were the product of a strategy devised by his former adviser, Stephen Bannon, who is a far-right political figure accused of racism himself. Shortly after stepping into the White House, Trump removed Bannon from his position, likely because he urged the president to implement policies that stood in direct conflict with American values. Trump may have realized that, whether he likes it or not, he is the president of Americans of all ethnic, religious and social affiliations.
Interestingly, while he has been caught making many controversial statements on record, there exists no evidence that the president has ever spoken out against African-Americans.
Moreover, more than he is president, Trump is first and foremost a businessman. He is well aware of the fact that racism can only limit business and hurt the bottom line. Similarly, before moving to the White House, he lived and worked in New York City – the cosmopolitan capital of the world, home to European, Asian, African, Latino, Indian and Chinese nationals belonging to all walks of life. Undermining these cosmopolitan values means undermining the entire infrastructure on which he accumulated his wealth. Despite pushing the boundaries with controversial policies, Trump understands that racism will only limit his success. – Ahmad al-Farraj
Translated by Asaf Zilberfarb.