US President Donald Trump unilaterally recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital in accordance with American law but in defiance of its international counterpart, setting off a rolling wave of condemnation from Muslim countries. Turkey had earlier threatened to break its diplomatic ties with Israel if Trump went through with his move, while the Arab League called it an "open aggression". Many other states, including Mideast rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran, also came out against this decision, which interestingly symbolized a rare instance of Islamic solidarity in spite of sectarian and geopolitical tensions elsewhere.
Trump's domestic and international opponents believe that his act of recognition will complicate the Mideast peace process that his administration is reportedly working to revive, and they also reminded the President that the UN never acknowledged Israel's 1967 conquest of East Jerusalem and its 1980 declaration of the entire city as its capital. In defense, Trump's backers say that he was fulfilling a campaign pledge justified by the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, and that the US, as a sovereign state, can make bilateral political decisions however it sees fit, no matter how controversial they may be abroad.
Furthermore, they retort that Trump was just extending belated official recognition of the existing state of affairs.
The US did, however, delay the formal relocation of its embassy to Jerusalem by at least another six months, which might open up a window of opportunity for all parties to reach a compromise solution in line with whatever Trump's speculated Mideast peace proposal might be. Looked at from this perspective, then the President's decision might prove to be a pressure tactic to advance his administration's vision for the region, but if that's the case, then this risky act might end up backfiring by fortifying Muslim resistance to his future initiatives.
The optics of a President who's globally presented as being "anti-Muslim" attempting to legitimize what most Muslims view to be the illegal occupation of one of their holiest sites in the world will undoubtedly make it much more difficult for their leaders to work with him on regional projects. Nevertheless, most of the US' Muslim allies are strategically dependent on it to varying extents, so it's unclear at this time what might tangibly change in their bilateral relations other than the inclusion of occasional and highly publicized polemics.
Brad Blankenship, journalist at TeleSUR in Quito, Ecuador, and Chris Brennan, geopolitical analyst and author of the book "Fall of the Arab Spring: From Revolution to Destruction" on the Arab uprisings of early 2011, commented on the issue.
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