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Here’s how the Middle East is reacting to Trump’s shock victory

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint meeting of Congress in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 3, 2015.
Gary Cameron | Reuters
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint meeting of Congress in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 3, 2015.

As the world awoke to Donald Trump's surprise defeat of Hillary Clinton in the U.S. presidential race, one region of the world in particular wrestled with mixed emotions.

Concern, satisfaction and just plain indifference – leaders across the Middle East have expressed wide ranging feelings towards the victory of a man who once called for a ban on Muslims from entering the U.S.


Mixed signals

In Iran, fears that Donald Trump could reverse President Barack Obama's hard-fought nuclear deal were dismissed by the Islamic republic's leader, Hassan Rouhani. The Iranian president said that the results of the U.S. election "have no effect on Tehran's policies," according to state news agency IRNA. He also warned that no one government can dissolve the UN Security Council-backed resolution lifting sanctions.

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, meanwhile, said in an official statement that he was "looking forward to more cooperation and coordination" with America. Sisi, who met Trump back in September and remains the only Arab leader to do so, is said to look favorably on the president-elect's more relaxed approach to human rights violations following his desire to reinstate the torture of terror suspects.

Worries over the future of a two-state solution between Palestine and Israel could persist under Trump, who has given mixed signals on one of the Middle East's longest running conflicts. Once pledging to be neutral, Trump also told the Daily Mail in May this year that Israel should continue building settlements in the West Bank – considered illegal under international law - and vowed to call Jerusalem Israel's "undivided capital."

Most UN members do not recognize Israel's 1967 annexation of East Jerusalem. The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, congratulated Trump on his victory in a statement, saying he hoped "peace would be achieved during his term."

Israeli counterpart, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who suffered a somewhat tempestuous relationship with the outgoing U.S. president, said Trump was a "true friend of Israel" and that he looked forward to "advancing security, stability and peace in the region."

A new chapter

Elsewhere, Saudi Arabia had their money on a Hillary Clinton win, according to WikiLeaks revelations. The oil-rich kingdom reportedly donated millions of dollars to the Democratic nominee's foundation - with a recent poll by the U.S.-based Arab Center for Research and Policy finding that 68 percent of Saudis preferred Clinton to Trump.

The Gulf state could be braced for a rocky relationship with the new president, though, after he got into a Twitter spat with Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal earlier this year. Trump called bin Talal "dopey," claiming he wants to control U.S. politicians with "daddy's money." Following the result, King Salman bin Abdulaziz wished Trump success in "achieving security and stability in the Middle East and the wider world," according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he hoped that America's choice "will lead to beneficial steps for the world concerning basic rights and freedoms, democracy and developments in our region." Meantime, Prime Minister Binali Yildrim used the opportunity to reiterate Turkey's extradition request for cleric Fethullah Gulen, who it suspects of masterminding July's failed coup attempt. Yildrim said a new chapter in U.S.-Turkey ties could begin if Trump agreed to the petition, according to China's Xinhua news agency who cited citing the Turkish Daily Sabah.

With the crisis in Syria showing no signs of abating and the fight against ISIS reaching a crescendo in Iraq, many world leaders will be hoping Donald Trump can put aside his divisive and controversial rhetoric in favor of a coherent Middle East strategy that advances peace and stability in the region – succeeding where a string of U.S. presidents before him have failed.

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