At the very highest level, the messages from Donald Trump’s transition team have been very positive and reassuring to Arab allies, according to one Arab diplomat who was on a recent call with the transition team. These allies are confident that they can work through any concerns related to the heated rhetoric of the campaign.
The potential national security picks look promising to them, with several potential Cabinet-level members who are very familiar with avenues of U.S.-Arab cooperation on areas such as counterterrorism and intelligence.
That’s perhaps unsurprising given the distrust that grew between the Obama Administration and Gulf allies following the Iran deal and failure to enforce the “red line” in Syria. However, Arab allies also say they are not sure what to expect from the Trump administration and want to see whether he signs off on the proposed appointments. The Trump team has not yet contacted all U.S. allies in the Gulf, many of whom are nervous about Iranian encroachment and have become key to the US campaign against ISIS.
CBS News’ Major Garrett has reported that Trump is considering former Speaker Newt Gingrich or George W. Bush-era U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton for secretary of state. Retired Army General Michael Flynn or Bolton could be national security adviser, and Rep. Michael McCaul, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie or former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani are being considered for Homeland Security Secretary. Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee is also in the running as a potential secretary of state.
During the presidential campaign, Trump called for a Muslim entry ban, a proposal that recently disappeared from his campaign website before it was restored.
In July, Trump announced he was expanding the ban to include suspending immigration from “any nation that has been compromised by terrorism until such time as proven vetting mechanisms have been put in place.”