Across the Mideast, friends and foes of the US denounce Trump's Jerusalem move

Thursday , December 07, 2017 - 1:20 PM

Erin Cunningham and Tamer El-Ghobashy

(c) 2017, The Washington Post.

ISTANBUL - Allies and adversaries of the United States found common ground Thursday in rejecting President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, calling the move reckless and likely to reignite violence in the region.

Criticism of the move, which breaks with decades of U.S. policy, was particularly sharp across the Middle East, with officials, religious leaders and activists of many political persuasions issuing statements of condemnation.

Even stalwart U.S. allies such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - otherwise admirers of Trump’s presidency - took aim at the administration over the new policy.

The Saudi government described the decision as an “irresponsible and unwarranted step,” according to the state-run news agency. Qatar, too, warned of “serious repercussions” for stability in the region.

Jerusalem, although divided, is considered holy by Jews, Christians and Muslims, and Palestinians envision the eastern part of the city as the capital of any future state. Israelis, for their part, see Jerusalem as their own eternal, undivided capital. Previous U.S. administrations kept the embassy in Tel Aviv, pending a final peace agreement that would determine Jerusalem’s status.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who has partnered closely with the United States in the fight against the Islamic State, said the move could lead to “dangerous escalation” in the region.

“The U.S. administration must reverse this unjust decision,” Abadi said Thursday. Iraq’s Foreign Ministry also said it had summoned U.S. Ambassador Douglas Silliman to deliver a formal letter of protest.

In Turkey, where relations with Washington were already strained over U.S. support for Kurdish militias in Syria, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim likened Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem to pulling “the pin on a bomb ready to blow in the region.”

At a conference in the capital, Ankara, Yildirim said that Turkey, a NATO member, would not recognize the decision, Reuters news agency reported.

The U.S. Embassy in Ankara urged Americans to stay away from planned protests outside the embassy, as well as consulates in Istanbul and Adana.

At the U.S. Embassy in the Jordanian capital, Amman, on Thursday, protesters denounced the United States, chanting against the decision and holding signs that read: “No to U.S. arrogance.”

“Before, the U.S. was a partner in peace to solve the problem in Palestine. Now, Jordanians see the U.S. as part of the problem,” said 60-year-old Hafeth Khawaja.

“All of the moderates in this region that stood by America, and put their faith in America for so many years, now look like fools,” he said. “We have been betrayed.”

Elsewhere, militants who have fought U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq took the opportunity to condemn both Israel and the United States.

Akram al-Kaabi, head of the Iran-backed Nujaba militia in Iraq, called Trump’s decision “foolish” and predicted it would spark an uprising. He added that the move legitimizes attacks on U.S. forces, of which there are thousands in Iraq.

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El-Ghobashy reported from Baghdad. The Washington Post’s Mustafa Salim in Baghdad, Sayed Salahuddin in Kabul, Taylor Luck in Amman and Louisa Loveluck in Beirut contributed to this report.