Mideast expects big changes under Trump
Donald Trump's all-but-dismissal of human rights as a foreign policy principle could hit like an earthquake across a Middle East landscape beset by warring factions and beleaguered governments, with some players eyeing the prospect of once unimaginable new alliances.
Syria is the foremost test of Trump's promise of a return to a hard-headed realpolitik and could quickly show whether America is truly abandoning promotion of democracy and the rule of law in a way that could reshape much of the region's post-Cold War, post-9/11 order.
Trump has raised the possibility of a broad new U.S. partnership with Vladimir Putin's increasingly authoritarian Russia and has even hinted at aligning with Syrian President Bashar Assad, which would amount to a dramatic reversal from years of the Obama administration calls for Assad's ouster. Trump seems to calculate that their shared enemy in the Islamic State is more important than shared values.
"When it comes to civil liberties, our country has a lot of problems, and I think it's very hard for us to get involved in other countries," Trump explained last July as Turkey was punishing tens of thousands of people seemingly unconnected to a failed coup attempt. "We need allies," Trump said in a New York Times interview. "I don't know that we have a right to lecture."