Mapping the Trump factor: 10 countries and regions feeling the heat

An estimated 150,000 of America’s 1.4 million armed forces personnel are stationed abroad. There are an estimated 35,000 US service personnel dotted about the Middle East, but the US does not release precise information on all their locations

Afghanistan , but when Donald Trump takes office he will not be able to ignore what is now America’s longest war. Thousands of US troops are still stationed there, the security situation is deteriorating as the Taliban threaten cities and consolidate control of rural areas, and Isis has joined the war.

Although American forces are not officially in a combat role, 11 have died there this year, making it a deadlier theatre of operations for the US military than Iraq or .

The Taliban responded to the US election result by calling on Trump to withdraw America’s troops, but advisers will warn him that without the backing of foreign airpower and other military expertise the country is likely to fall to the Taliban.

His strong stance on fighting Isis and “Islamic terrorism” means he is unlikely to hand control of a country – where thousands of American troops died – to a scarcely less hardline groupHe has also expressed concerns about nuclear weapons in neighbouring Pakistan.

Trump has repeatedly called for US allies to pay more towards their own security, but there is almost no cash to be had in , which is already largely dependent on foreign aid for its budget and is one of the poorest nations in the world. He is likely to be stuck then with the multibillion dollar bill for the US presence and support of Afghan troops.

The Baltic states are nervous about whether a Trump administration would defend them in the event of a Russian attack. In July, Trump told the New York Times he would not necessarily come to the aid of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia – unless they had first stumped up enough cash into coffers.

Nato has recently been ramping up its in response to what it sees as a growing Kremlin threat. In December the 173rd US airborne unit is due to train with Latvian troops at a former Soviet military base. But it is unclear if such US-led exercises will continue. There is also uncertainty as to what will be Trump’s Russia policy. The fear is that Trump will effectively concede eastern Europe to Moscow as a “sphere of influence”.

This would give Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, a free hand to create havoc in the Baltics, raising the spectre of cyber attacks, subversion of democratic elections and even covert Russian invasion, similar to the events of 2014 in east and Crimea.

The possible is the main worry. Of Canada’s goods and services, 72% exports go to the US, representing 23% of the country’s GDP and 2.5m jobs.

Trump’s promise to renegotiate Nafta (North American Free Trade Agreement), which he called “the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere”, has alarmed Ottawa. But analysts point out that much of the two countries’ trade is also governed by World Trade Organisation rules, and the US ambassador to Canada has said would be willing to look again at the agreement, in a gesture of goodwill towards the new administration.

Canadians are also worried by Trump’s views on climate change (he termed it “a Chinese hoax”) and the consequences, not just for the UN Paris agreement but bilateral pacts such as the deal struck by Barack Obama and the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, to limit methane emissions from the oil and gas industry.

Trump could prove positive for the Canadian oil industry, suffering like many from low prices: TransCanada’s planned Keystone XL pipeline, carrying oil from Alberta to a US terminal in Nebraska, was rejected by the Obama administration after six years of review.

Trump has said he would approve the project, which would give Canadian oil companies easier and so more profitable access to international markets, if it were resubmitted – as long as the US benefited from its construction and got “a share of the profits”.

“Their world collapses. Ours is being built,” tweeted Florian Philippot, a Front National vice president, and ’s righthand man, as Trump headed for victory.

Trump’s win certainly makes a president Le Pen more plausible. More than 40 polls in the last two years have consistently shown her finishing second, or winning the first round of France’s presidential elections, on 23 April 2017.

After that, conventional wisdom says Le Pen will be heavily defeated in the run-off stage by her rival, at present likely to be the veteran centre-right former prime minister Alain Juppé, who is seen as a safe pair of hands after two hugely unpopular presidents.

Some Le Pen policies – particularly that of taking out of the euro – simply scare too many voters, and current polling says Le Pen would lose to Juppé, backed by an anti-FN “front républicain”, 34%-64%.

After Brexit and Trump, we know polls can be wrong. For them to be wrong by 30 percentage points would be extraordinary. But the same factors that drove Trump’s victory are clearly in play in France. Le Pen as the country’s president cannot be completely ruled out, especially if Juppé does not make it to the second round.

All eyes are on how Trump’s presidency will play out vis-à-vis last year’s , which was widely praised as a triumph of diplomacy that averted the risk of another war in the Middle East.

Despite his speech in March to the pro-Israel lobby Aipac (American Public Affairs Committee), during which he said his first priority was to “dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran”, it is still unclear what path Trump will follow in office. He has contradicted himself on the deal, previously conceding that it would be hard to rip it up without European support.

Trump’s lack of credibility among traditional European allies of the US led some to think that his victory would be unlikely to cause much trouble for Tehran. Iranian leaders insist that the nuclear accord is an international treaty whose fate also rests in the hands of Europe, as well as and China. But Iran knows that while Trump may not be able to tear up the deal, he can certainly stifle Iran’s access to the global market.

Trump’s cosiness with Israel makes fearful of war but his positive relationship with Vladimir Putin is a source of optimism.

Trump has , and has said that one of his priorities on taking office would be to convene top generals to discuss new operations against the jihadi group. This commitment, and his openness to forging an alliance with Russia, meant his victory was met with despair among the Syrian opposition and with delight in Damascus. Russian jets and other military support have been crucial in turning the tide of the civil war in favour of the Assad regime.

Trump has also suggested he would not commit to limiting ground forces in Iraq or Syria. He may face an immediate test on this front if the slow battle for Mosul, the group’s last major stronghold in , is still dragging on when he takes office. Trump has condemned the offensive as a “total disaster”, saying troops were “bogged down”, though he has not made any clear suggestions for an alternative campaign.

Baghdad is expected to fiercely resist any move by Trump to make good on his pledge to “take the oil” from Iraq to compensate for US spending in the country following the 2003 invasion. Oil is the main source of income for the Iraqi government, and legal and oil experts say plundering its reserves by force would be illegal under international law.

A Trump presidency does not bode well for the moribund Middle East peace process, which broke down in 2014. Since then there has been conflict in Gaza, followed by a wave of violence between Palestinians and Israelis, which began last October and only subsided in the spring. Trump’s policy prescriptions – as enunciated by the candidate and his advisers – would further exacerbate tensions.

Most controversially, Trump has promised to reverse decades of US policy by and moving the American embassy there. His aides also suggest that contrary to years of US policy – which has long regarded Israeli settlement building as an obstacle to peace – Trump would have no such objections. Such policies, if actively pursued when Trump gets into office in January, would coincide with the 50th anniversary of the occupation at a time when Palestinian faith in the peace process is at an all-time low.

Trump’s proposal to tear up the Iran nuclear deal, despite warnings from Tehran, also risks renewing tensions between Iran and Israel.

Trump has caused consternation and alarm in Tokyo with suggestions that he is willing to make dramatic changes to the security glue that has held the US and together for more than 60 years.

Amid rising concern over Chinese military activity in the South China Sea and North Korea’s apparently unstoppable acquisition of a viable nuclear deterrent, a Clinton victory would have given Japan the assurance it needed that bilateral security ties would remain untouched.

Trump has hinted that his “America first” mantra could mean the withdrawal of 47,000 US troops from Japan and another 28,500 ranged along the southern side of the heavily armed border that separates South and North Korea.

The prospect of Trump weakening or even scrapping that guarantee would cause alarm in Tokyo, particularly after securing vows from Washington that the US would come to Japan’s aid if China attempted to retake the disputed Senkaku islands by force. The East China Sea islands, known as the Diaoyu in China, are administered by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing.

Perhaps most alarming is Trump’s suggestion that and develop their own nuclear deterrents. That, many analysts agree, could spark an Asia-Pacific arms race that would further destabilise an already tense region.

The as Trump headed to victory and America’s southern neighbours were confronted with the prospect of a US president who had promised to rip up trade treaties, expel 5 million undocumented immigrants (many of them, according to him, “rapists” and “criminals”), and build a 2,000-mile border wall.

Which if any of those pledges Trump would actually make good in office is anyone’s guess. But many in expect at the very least the economy to suffer, particularly if he tears up Nafta as he has threatened to do.

About 80% of Mexican exports go to the US and the governor of the Mexican central bank, Agustín Carstens, warned before the election that a Trump victory would be a “hurricane” for the country’s economy.

Trump is loathed by many ordinary Mexicans; the country’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, drew heavy fire for not pushing back against him at a joint pre-election press conference. The foreign minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu has since said Mexico has no intention of paying for a border wall.

The government is working on a contingency plan to counter the worst potential effects of a Trump presidency – one of which, if the Mexican economy does nosedive, would almost certainly be to reverse the flow of migrants returning to Mexico from the US in recent years because of better job prospects at home.

Many Ukrainians feel they were let down in the level of support they received from the west for fighting Russia-backed separatists in the east of the country, but a Trump presidency brings a whole new level of fear.

What really terrifies Kiev is the fact that Trump has hinted he could be amenable to the sort of “great power” politics that Putin enjoys – man-to-man summitry where geopolitical deals are struck. Given the importance of Ukraine to Putin’s plans, he would be likely to demand the country be recognised as one where Russia has “special interests”. In Putin’s dream world and Kiev’s nightmare, the recognition of annexed Crimea as part of Russia could even be up for discussion.

A somewhat nervous statement was issued by the Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, congratulating Trump and noting he had been assured by the US ambassador that the incoming Trump administration “would remain a reliable partner in the struggle for democracy”.

In reality nobody, including the US ambassador, knows what and Ukraine will be. As on so many policy positions Trump has made contradictory statements, at times suggesting more should have been done to support Ukraine against Russia while at other times suggesting Crimea should be part of Russia.

Source : theguardian[dot]com