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Trump kicks off 2020 reelection campaign amid rising Middle East tensions Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Trump kicks off 2020 reelection campaign amid rising Middle East tensions

Trump will run again as president [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 June, 2019

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Controversial US Presdent Donald Trump has launched his reelection campaign.

President Donald Trump launched his 2020 reelection campaign Tuesday the same way he rode to power in 2016 - with a raucous, nationalist rally stirring fear of illegal immigration and a continuation of his Middle East policy.

Lashing out at his Democratic opponents as radical leftists fueled by "hatred" and out to "rip your country apart," Trump promised an "earthquake at the ballot box" next year.

"We did it once and we're going to do it again," he promised some 20,000 ecstatic supporters in Orlando, Florida.

"And that is why tonight I stand before you to officially launch my campaign for a second term as president of the United States."

There were no substantial new ideas or plans for the future in Trump's nearly 80 minute speech in the Orlando arena, where the crowd formed a sea of Trump campaign red baseball caps, chanting "USA" and "Four More Years."

Instead, the unconventional Republican made his reelection pitch by touting economic gains, renewing his longstanding vow to build a wall along the Mexican border.

In a speech filled with his customary boasts and rhetorical exaggerations, Trump did say - though giving no detail - that he would oversee cures for cancer and AIDS and pave the way to send US astronauts to Mars.

But the meat of his address aimed at the grievances and fears of the same white working and middle class voters who underpinned his surprise victory as an utterly inexperienced politician against the seasoned Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Striking a dark note, Trump repeatedly encouraged the crowd to boo journalists covering the event, calling them "fake news."

Then Trump turned on the Democrats, whom he said have "become more radical, more dangerous, and more unhinged than at any point in the modern history of our country."

"They want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it," he said to roars of boos. "Not acceptable. It's not going to happen."

Middle East legacy

So far, Trump’s presidency has proven hawkish on the Middle East. Whilst he hasn’t yet pledged any promises on Middle East policy for his campaign, it is expected that his hardline pro-Israel and anti-Iran stance will continue.

Over the weekend, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu inaugurated a new settlement in the occupied Golan Heights, in honour of his unshakable alliance with Trump.

Netanyahu unveiled a "Trump Heights" sign to mark the site of the new settlement.

The ceremony comes after the US president in late March recognised Israeli sovereignty over the part of the strategic plateau it seized from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day war.

Last year, the Trump administration burned bridges with Tehran after withdrawing from the landmark nuclear deal by his predecessor Barack Obama.

Since then, the Trump administration has been tightening sanctions on the Islamic Republic, building yet more tension in the region that have in recent weeks sparked concerns of a potential war.

The US has accused Iran of attacking two tankers in the Gulf, though the Iranians deny responsibility. With details murky and no one owning up to the attacks, the Pentagon released new photos intended to bolster its case.

On Monday Iran said it could soon start enriching uranium to just a step away from weapons-grade levels, a challenge to Trump's assurances to allies that the US withdrawal from the landmark nuclear deal last year made the world a safer place.

The Pentagon responded by ordering the additional troops to the region, including security forces for additional surveillance and intelligence-gathering.

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