Syrian Diaspora Sets Conditions for Possible Trump Support in 2024 US Elections

Credit: (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Members of the Syrian diaspora in the US have stipulated that their support for former President Donald Trump in his current presidential campaign will depend on his commitment to ousting Assad and intensifying sanctions against his regime. This occurred during a recent meeting in Michigan, a key battleground state.

The meeting, held at an Italian restaurant outside Detroit, featured representation from the Trump campaign by Richard Grenell, former acting director of national intelligence, and Trump’s son-in-law, Michael Boulos. Although the Trump campaign did not officially organize the meeting, it was seen as a strategic move to gain the backing of Arab and Muslim American voters disenchanted with President Joe Biden’s policies, particularly his support for Israel in the Gaza conflict.

Maher Sharafeddine, a Syrian writer based in the US, indicated that the discussion focused on Trump’s potential Syria policy should he win the upcoming election. Sharafeddine stressed that the Syrian community’s support hinges on assurances that Trump would implement a “superior Syria strategy” compared to President Biden. This includes preventing the resurgence of the Assad regime, supporting its removal, and expediting the political transition process in line with international resolutions.

Despite the meeting’s positive tone, Sharafeddine mentioned that Trump’s representatives confirmed no specific promises. Among the attendees were Dr. Yahya Basha, a vocal critic of the Biden administration’s lax sanctions policies towards Assad’s regime, and several Syrian businessmen and donors.

The meeting occurs amid a significant shift in support among Arab and Muslim voters in five major swing states. According to a New York Times poll, Trump currently leads Biden 57-25 percent among these voters, a stark contrast to the 2020 election, where Biden had a 56-35 percent advantage.

However, skepticism remains regarding Trump’s appeal to the broader Arab American community. His first term saw policies such as stringent restrictions on immigration from Muslim-majority countries and reduced funding for Palestinian humanitarian aid, which drew substantial criticism. Keith Ellison, the Democratic attorney general of Minnesota and a Muslim, criticized Trump’s outreach as “patently absurd” and “supremely naive.”

In the meeting, Grenell emphasized the potential political influence of Arab and Muslim Americans if they backed Trump. He argued that supporting Trump could demonstrate to both Republicans and Democrats the significance of this voting bloc. Dr. Basha, who helped organize the meeting, expressed a willingness to explore what Trump has to offer, despite the meeting being light on policy details.

Brian Hughes, a senior Trump adviser, noted that the meeting was not officially sanctioned by the Trump campaign but acknowledged ongoing outreach efforts. He emphasized that Trump’s presidency had “established a more stable Middle East,” a point contested by critics like Abbas Alawieh, a leader pressuring Biden on his Gaza policy. As the 2024 presidential race heats up, the support of the Syrian diaspora and the broader Arab American community could be crucial. Their backing, however, will likely depend on clear commitments to addressing the complex and ongoing issues in Syria.


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