United States' president Donald Trump is expected to announce his administration's new Cuba-US policy on Friday and there are speculations that he plans to put new restrictions on trade and travel to Havana. Trump's policy will roll back parts of former president Barack Obama's regulations introduced in 2014.
Trump's Cuba policy, which will be announced in Miami, is expected to stop the flow of US cash to Cuba's military and security services. However, Trump will still maintain diplomatic relations and allow US airlines and cruise ships to continue service to the island.
Senior White House officials said that Obama's overtures had enriched Cuba's military while repression increased on the island. Trump is expected to justify his partial reversal of Obama's measures to a large extent on human rights grounds. After Havana's former leader Fidel Castro passed away, Trump said, "Fidel Castro's legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights."
Officials have also said that the new administration would leave the door open to improved relations if Cuba undertakes democratic reforms such as allowing free elections and releasing political prisoners. The aim of this partial roll back of Obama's Cuba policy is to repair what Trump had called a "bad deal", they added.
Obama has advocated better relations with Cuba towards the end of his presidency. He eased trade and travel restrictions on the country in 2014 and became the first US president to visit the island nation since 1928. Trump has been moving steadily to alter the policies adopted by the Obama administration. He is materialising his campaign promises by changing the "bad" deals struck by the former administration.
Paris Climate Agreement
Another deal that Trump campaigned against and subsequently pulled the US out of, was the Paris Climate Agreement. Trump considered the deal "very unfair" to the United States and said that it was not tough enough on countries like India and China. Obama had, however described the accord as "the first-ever global agreement to set the world on a low-carbon course and protect the world we leave to our children," Politico reported.
Prior to the Cuba announcement, Trump had also claimed to have intervened in the West Asia politics. He took credit for the ongoing gulf crisis through his tweets. His speech in Saudi Arabia seems to have emboldened the gulf countries to cut ties with Qatar.
"During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar," he had tweeted.
During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar - look!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 6, 2017
Trump's possible intervention has disrupted the fragile balance in West Asia, which Obama strived to maintain. Trump might have also hurt American interests by helping the Saudi regime isolate Qatar. Doha is home to 8,500 American troops and hosts the largest prepositioning American base in the world. On the contrary, Obama had welcomed Iran to play a "responsible role" in the region and had encouraged it to resolve its differences with its neighbours. Trump has on various occasions denounced the Iranian regime and accused it of supporting terror.
"It is a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room," he had said. Obama had referred to the US relationship with Saudi as "complicated", as Telegraph reported. However, Trump has openly embraced the Saudi regime while saying, "Today we begin a new chapter that will bring lasting benefits to our citizens." Washington’s relation with Riyadh was indeed complicated under the Obama administration. He sought a reconciliation with Iran and negotiated a deal with the country, which relaxed global sanctions. This disturbed the Saudi regime, which wants a complete dominance in the region. Obama initiated a power play between Tehran and Riyadh by signing the Iran nuclear deal.
NATO While making new friends with Russia and Saudi Arabia, Trump is also making a few enemies. His speech at NATO, where he publicly chided world leaders might have changed the US' equation with allies. He scolded NATO member countries for not meeting their financial commitments to the alliance and also refused to reiterate US commitment to the alliance's mutual defense pledge. "Twenty-three of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying and what they are supposed to be paying for their defense. This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States,” he had said.
While Trump wants to ban the citizens of Muslim majority countries from entering the United States, some NATO countries have opened their countries to refugees. CNN quoted German chancellor Angela Merkel as saying, "NATO allies should remain united in the trust that it is not isolation and the building of walls that make us successful, but an open society." She was making an oblique reference to the wall that Trump had vowed to build along the Mexico border to "stop drugs, human trafficking etc."
Don't let the fake media tell you that I have changed my position on the WALL. It will get built and help stop drugs, human trafficking etc. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 25, 2017
Obama had reiterated his commitment to NATO and vowed to hold fast to it throughout his career. He even shares a warm relationship with Merkel. On his first trip to Europe since leaving office, he visited Merkel in Berlin.
Merkel is not the only world leader visibly agitated by Trump. He managed to anger British prime minister Theresa May over leaks to the US media of sensitive information about the Manchester Arena bombing. The UK had even briefly stopped intelligence sharing with the US.
The US Department of State states that "the United States has no closer ally than the United Kingdom, and British foreign policy emphasizes close coordination with the United States." It further says that the relations were strengthened by the UK’s alliance with the US during both World Wars, in Afghanistan as well as through its role as a founding member of NATO.
Trump may have changed this close relationship by constantly attacking NATO, its member countries and their leaders. In the wake of the Manchester bombing, Trump attacked London mayor Sadiq Khan for telling Londoners not to be alarmed about an increased police presence following the attack. Saying that Trump was wrong about many things, Khan had wanted his state visit to be cancelled, as BBC reported.
Trump seems to have a very different view of the world and America's relations with other countries. It is yet to see how his statements and actions play out on the global stage. His changing allegiance and fickle loyalty might change the US' relations with most of its partners.
With inputs from agencies
Published Date: Jun 16, 2017 14:46 PM | Updated Date: Jun 16, 2017 14:52 PM