President Trump’s ban on refugees and visa holders from seven Muslim countries has been condemned by many countries including Germany and France yet the Muslim countries not on the ban list have been surprisingly silent. The rulers of Saudi Arabia and Egypt have been in touch with President Trump but have offered no statement on the ban. Similarly, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, that represents 57 Muslim countries, has also been silent. The lack of unity has surprised some though Rami G. Khouri at the American University of Beirut attributes the silence to lack of legitimacy faced by governments in many Muslim countries as well as their pursuit of national interests at the expense of collective interests of the Islamic Ummah. Egypt’s Mr. Sisi is close to President Trump while the U.S. enjoys close economic and security ties with Saudi Arabia. Moreover, President Trump also has business interests in Saudi Arabia that was home to 15 of the 19 attackers responsible for the 9/11 tragedy. Some Arab students including Qatari students have cancelled their college plans in the U.S. Mr. Khouri fears the silence of the Arab rulers will further widen the trust gap between them and their subjects.

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The article notes there was more unity among the Muslim countries in the past, and the unity has weakened due to political crisis as well as economic struggles. This seems a plausible argument because I cannot help but draw parallels between the fractures in the unity among the Muslim countries and the weakening of the European Union. The cracks in the unity of EU members have also appeared due to political and economic crisis. It seems troubles at home force the countries to take more selfish approach. President Trump’s ban reflects the importance of avoiding any potential for conflicts of interest. If the ban has been designed to lower the possibility of terrorism on U.S. soil, then it is already a failure because it doesn’t include Saudi Arabia whose citizens were the main culprits in the 9/11 tragedy. The decision to exclude Saudi Arabia might also have been influenced by President Trump’s personal interests because he does have financial interests in Saudi Arabia. The decision of many Arab students to not study in the US will harm the US interests in the short-term and long-term. Many of these students may end up in the national politics in the future, and may be less friendly towards the U.S. The international students provide great opportunity to the U.S. to build political, economic, and social influence in other countries. There is a long list of Presidents, Prime Ministers, and Monarchs around the world who went to college in the U.S. and many of these come from Muslim countries.

President Trump’s ban has failed to include the countries whose citizens pose greater threat to the U.S. than those included in the ban. The lack of unity among the Muslim countries may have surprised some but their political and economic struggles may be the key reason. President Trump’s hesitation to include Saudi Arabia in the ban may raise accusations of favoritism and rightfully so because President Trump does have business interests in Saudi Arabia. The ban may also discourage more Arab and Muslim students from studying in the U.S, causing the U.S. to lose a valuable opportunity to build political, economic, and social influence in the Muslim countries in the long term. The ban may also widen the trust gap between the rulers and their subjects in the Muslim countries that doesn’t bode well for the U.S. either, because it will increase the risk of regime’s collapse.

  • Walsh, Declan. In Face of Trump’s Order, Some Muslim Nations Are Conspicuously Silent. 29 January 2017. 4 February 2017 .