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    A child walks past a display of masks of US President Barack Obama, and presidential hopefuls Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, for sale at a shop selling Halloween items in Alhambra, California on October 21, 2016

    Can 'Lame Duck' Obama Put Sand in the Wheels of 'Irregular Politician' Trump?

    © AFP 2019 / Frederic J. BROWN
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    News of Donald Trump winning Tuesday's 2016 US presidential elections broke on Wednesday and overshadowed the fact that President Barack Obama will remain in office for almost three months until the inauguration ceremony is held on January 20. However, experts believe that Obama is unlikely to achieve much in the remaining period.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Trump won the 2016 election with 290 electoral votes, while his rival Hillary Clinton received 232 votes despite winning the popular vote by a margin of over 200,000.

    Regardless of the Electoral College-popular vote split, Democrats have acknowledged Trump's victory. Obama congratulated Trump and called for national unity in the wake of a bitter election campaign in a speech at the White House following election results.

    "Now, everybody is sad when their side loses an election, but the day after we have to remember that we’re actually all on one team. This is an intramural scrimmage. We’re not Democrats first. We’re not Republicans first. We are Americans first. We’re patriots first," Obama said.

    Obama praised Trump's post-victory speech and expressed hope for an incoming administration to have a smooth transition, adding that he will use the remaining time to ensure a well-executed handover of power.

    Russian political experts talked to RIA Novosti about what Obama could still do during his last months in office.

    Can Obama Undermine Trump?

    "He cannot harm Trump in any way. Obama is now, as they say, a "lame duck," he is serving his last few months in the White House. During this period, by unwritten yet observed US establishment rules which are not in the Constitution, the outgoing president cannot make any serious decisions which could make his successor's life difficult. It's not how it's done. So, until January 20, 2017, Obama will simply finish his term," Vladimir Batyuk, the head of the Center for Military and Political Research at the Russian Academy of Sciences, said.

    Trump's unpredictable character makes his plans hard for anyone to disrupt, including Obama, Fyodor Lukyanov, the Chairman of the Presidium of the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy said.

    "It is very hard to make the life of such a successor hard. He is such an irregular politician and he does not even know himself what he will do and what he wants to do. So anything Obama does cannot go contrary to what Trump could do," the expert said, noting that instead of obstructing Trump, Obama could try to secure his own legacy or focus on resolving a specific issue such as using his powers to pardon someone.

    On Wednesday, Obama said he is hopeful that Trump will not use his position to take political revenge against Clinton despite Trump’s campaign pledge to prosecute her. Trump repeatedly claimed during the presidential campaign that Clinton was a criminal and should be imprisoned. Clinton has not been persecuted for any charges related to her use of a private email server for official business, a point raised by Trump during the election campaign.

    "I don't know whether Obama has such candidates or if he will pardon Hillary Clinton," Lukyanov said.

    International Stage

    Obama will also be able to accomplish little on the international stage in his remaining time as president, experts said.

    Lukyanov stressed that Russia will not want to deal with Obama, who has not been able to accomplish any objectives in war-torn Syria or Ukraine.

    "Everything that concerns Russia is futile now. No one wants to deal with him. Why should Russia deal with him now if his is finished, cannot achieve anything and is on his way out… He cannot do anything alone in Syria or in Ukraine, he needs to involve others, but now no one will get involved with him anymore now," he said, adding that Obama himself may still attempt to act on the international stage.

    Meanwhile, working contacts will continue over actions in the Middle East, such as the US-supported Iraqi army offensive on terrorists in Mosul, the expert noted.

    Center for Military and Political Research head Batyuk also predicted that the United States will not undertake any international initiatives until Trump's administration is formed.

    "Perhaps Moscow will try to use the pause to propose its own initiatives, but it is likely to prefer to wait and see how Trump staffs his foreign relations team. For now, the situation is highly uncertain," he said.

    The expert added that the situation in the Middle East is unlikely to escalate in the coming months.

    The Mosul offensive will continue, while the situation with the terrorist-held Syrian city of Raqqa will remain suspended with Turkey against US arms supplies to Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which are advancing on the city, according to Batyuk.

    The situation in Syria's besieged eastern Aleppo will also see little shifts until Trump assembles his team and starts making concrete proposals, he added.

    Over recent months, Aleppo has been a major battleground in Syria, engaging government forces, jihadists, and numerous opposition groups. Militant-held eastern Aleppo is encircled by government forces and the fighting has affected thousands of civilians still trapped in the city. The September US-Russian deal on establishing a ceasefire in the city collapsed when the Syrian army started to advance in response to militants' violations.

    Topic:
    Donald Trump Elected 45th US President (281)

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    Fyodor Lukyanov, Vladimir Batyuk, Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Iraq, Ukraine, Syria, Russia, United States
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