Seven signs Trump is going 'full Arab dictator'

Seven signs Trump is going 'full Arab dictator'
3 min read
20 Jan, 2017
From the gaudy, gold furnishings at Trump HQ to White House nepotism and cosy alliances with Arab autocrats - is Donald Trump going full dictator?
Trump has made no secret of his admiration for Arab autocrats [Getty]
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And while Trump has made no secret of his admiration for Arab autocrats - the brooding bromance between Trump and Egypt's Sisi, declaring that Turkey's Erdogan deserves "credit" for turning around the coup attempt, praising dictators Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi for fighting terrorism, and expressed his interest in working with Assad - the incoming US President also seems to be taking cues from the power-hungry despots of the Middle East to carve out his own dictator-style presidency.

1. Family affairs: Trump repeatedly brushed off accusations of potential conflicts of interest if he took office by entrusting his children to take over the empire. Then he appointed Eric, Ivanka and his son-in-law Jared Kushner to the transition team, with Kushner continuing to serve as his special adviser at the White House. But in the Middle East, of course, mixing family and politics is not unusual.

2. Media crackdown: Just like Sisi's rise to power came alongside a crackdown on press freedom, Trump has responded to unfriendly coverage by criticising outlets such as The New York Times, CNN and NBC as "dead" or "losing credibility". After his victory, he broke protocol and refused to go out with his press pool - 
a signal of attempts to shut out the unfiltered, independent flow of news Americans need to hold their leader to account.

3. Military peacocking: According to several sources involved in his inaugural preparations, Trump's inuguration team floated the idea of marking his first day as commander-in-chief with an unusual display of heavy military equipment including tanks and missile launchers. "It's very Red Square," said Stephen Kerrigan, who held top positions in Obama's first and second presidential inaugural committees.

4. Fascist subtext: Trump's election campaign ran on the theme that America was in a bad place, convincing the electorate that America was under threat of immigrants, Muslims and terrorists - and he was the person to fix it. His remarks at the RNC in July didn't go unnoticed.
5. America first: Trump's "America-first" approach promises to build walls, increase sanctions, ban people, withdraw from the international system and pull out of international agreements. An attitude likely to sound familiar to Arabs who grew up under dictators' exagerrated nationalist rhetoric.
Trump's gilted and garish pad looks like an Arab dictator's fantasy.
6. Presidential palace: The floor to ceiling gold, the ivory armchairs, the diamond-encrusted door, the chandelier and candelabra overkill and the fake marble pillars, Trump's gilted and garish pad looks like an Arab dictator's fantasy.
7. American Spring: His shock election victory caused upset and outrage at home in the US and across the world - which has not subsided in the weeks before his inauguration. Trump has achieved level of hate that normally takes Arab dictators years in power to achieve. Could a revolution, or even a coup, be on the cards?