NEW YORK — A Trump presidency would be "shocking," "baffling," "frightening," and "scary" according to officials across the world who spoke to BuzzFeed News as polls showed Donald Trump winning the White House.
"There is no plan for what happens when Trump wins. It was too frightening to consider," said one senior US diplomat based in Egypt. Like others quoted in this story, he would speak only off record as the official results of the vote had not yet been announced. "This shifts our standing throughout the world, not just the Middle East. Diplomats all over the world will have to redraw their map and reconsider allegiances."
His disorientation over a Trump vote was echoed by officials reached across the world, who appeared unprepared for what would happen to US international relations under a Trump administration. The French ambassador to the US, Gerard Araud, tweeted, "It's the end of an era, that of neoliberalism. It remains to be seen what will follow it." Officials in the Middle East mused whether Trump would shift allegiances away from long-running US allies, including Jordan, Egypt, and Turkey, and whether he would work to disband the recently cemented nuclear deal with Iran.
In Mexico, officials sought to calm their country over fears that Trump would make good on his promise to build a wall along the US–Mexico border.
Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a former Mexican presidential candidate, called on Mexicans to keep calm. Mexico "is a free, independent, sovereign country. It is not a colony, it is not a protectorate, it does not depend on any foreign government," he said in a video published on his Facebook page Tuesday night.
A Trump win "hits the heart of humanism in the American democracy. Today, that paradigm, it seems to me, has been broken," said Armando Ríos Piter, a Mexican congressman who has proposed amending the country's annual budget to ensure that no tax money goes toward paying for Trump's wall.
"A Trump win ... would [validate] the claims of all historically violated populations (women, Afro-descendants, Latinos, etc), in [the US] and the rest of the world, because it would be a kind of 'universal message of exclusion.' And such visions do not usually build bridges of equality," Costa Rica's Vice President Ana Helena Chacón Echeverría told BuzzFeed News.
She says the "greatest expectation and hope" of a Trump presidency "would be that he would change... [and] in the exercise of power become a unifying leader, assuming his historical responsibility and ... building bridges of conciliation."
In Israel, one US diplomat who spoke to BuzzFeed News by phone said the results of the vote were "baffling — nobody predicted this or prepared for this."
"We have no idea what happens next because he hasn't articulated a clear foreign policy on the Middle East, let alone Israel and the Palestinian territories," said the official, who added that he had already received calls from several Israeli officials asking if Trump would tear up the nuclear deal recently reached with Iran. "They don't know if this is something Trump will do if he wins. They don't know what this means for any US policies put in place under previous administrations."
A French diplomat based in Amman said the results of the vote were "scary."
In Baghdad, Iraqis were stunned at news of Trump's looming victory, which could mean a weakening of ongoing support for the Iraqi government as it takes on ISIS in Mosul. "A Trump presidency could have a crucial impact on Iraq while we are in the middle of a big battle against ISIS," said Shirouk al-Abayachi, a liberal member of Iraq's parliament. "We would like to have the American role as promised to get rid of this bandit army, but we're worried about Trump's goals. We need to build channels to the Trump administration."
The justice minister of Turkey praised US voters for defying the predictions and admonitions of pundits and elites and voting for Trump. "I think US voters refused to have their national will dictated," Bekir Bozdag was quoted as saying Wednesday morning by the semi-official Anatolia news agency.
Others were more worried about what the Trump presidency would mean for the region.
"What the fuck can I say? We are looking at a president who might want to redraw a map of the Middle East. Will a Trump White House ally itself with Russia? What does that mean for Syria? I spoke to a friend here, he is at the [American] embassy in military affairs, and he is afraid. They do not know what it means for the military, for their involvement in Syria, in Iraq. What can I say? We don't know what this means," he said.
In the Philippines, a diplomat who asked to remain anonymous said, "We are all in shock," though he added that, "on the other hand, Trump will probably get along with our current government."
And still, as of 11 o'clock Tuesday night, as Trump continued inching his lead across the map, national security officials remained convinced a win couldn't actually happen. As he continued to block Clinton's path to an electoral victory, they searched for reasons.
"Maybe people really hate her," said a defense contractor who works for the Pentagon, and formerly worked in the Army. "She's a bad candidate but I always assumed [liberals] would just suck it up."
The general reaction, across sectors of the national security apparatus, was stunned silence.
"Find me someone who isn't [dumbfounded]," one US intelligence official said.
Sheera Frenkel is a cybersecurity correspondent for BuzzFeed News based in San Francisco. She has reported from Israel, Egypt, Jordan and across the Middle East. Her secure PGP fingerprint is 4A53 A35C 06BE 5339 E9B6 D54E 73A6 0F6A E252 A50F
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