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Illustration by Tonia Zhang

NYUAD Students React to US Elections

Along with having repercussions for the rest of the world, the results of the 2020 U.S. election affect many students on a personal level, regardless of where they come from.

Nov 8, 2020

“Subjects of the Empire … awake across the globe, waiting to see what the lucky citizens will decide for the future of the planet. Will they accelerate or slow its meltdown? #ElectionNight,” tweeted Mona Fawaz, a professor at the American University of Beirut.
In less than 140 characters, she encapsulates the repercussions of the U.S. elections on the world. While “meltdown” can be read literally to refer to the climate crisis, one can also think of the world’s political meltdown, given the Trump administration’s policy of building walls rather than bridges.
For one, there’s the nuclear deal with Iran that Trump withdrew from in 2018. As a result of this withdrawal, Iran now has at least 2,105 kilograms of low-enriched uranium, according to the Associated Press; 1,015 kilograms is enough to be re enriched and made into a nuclear weapon. Trump and his administrations’ inflexibility and unwillingness to compromise have resulted in further tensions in the region, such as the controversial move of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Moreover, the U.S. elections have indirect repercussions on Lebanese politics. Since 2019, Lebanon has been in turmoil, struggling financially after defaulting on its debt in March 2020. After the Aug. 4 explosion that razed the capital city Beirut, Lebanese people took it to the streets once again, which resulted in the prime minister’s resignation on Aug. 10, with no replacement cabinet yet.
Even though there seemed to be hope that Saad Hariri, the prime minister elect, could form a government in the last two weeks, some reports claimed that various political parties in Lebanon are stalling the formation of the new cabinet to alter their compromises depending on the winner of the U.S. elections. Given Biden’s interest in renegotiating the Iran nuclear deal, Iran’s allies in Lebanon want to adjust their behavior in Lebanon based on the next inhabitant of the White House.
On a more personal scale, the U.S. election has repercussions on some people’s lives and lifeplans. “I worry about my postgraduate studies that I hope to continue and pursue in the United States,” shared Zain Raef, Class of 2023 and a Syrian citizen. “If Trump is reelected, I think [I will not be able to do so] because getting an F1 visa will be very difficult [due to the Muslim travel ban].”
For others, their countries’ livelihoods depend on this election. “Ethiopia … will be affected greatly if Donald Trump keeps [on] being the president,” said Anatoli Lemma, Class of 2022 and an Ethiopian citizen, who worries about the political tension between his home country and Egypt over a recently built dam. “For the sake of arbitration, the U.S. was put in the middle … a week or so ago, Donald Trump gave a very vague statement saying that the dam will be blown up … we are counting on the American people to remove him from power.”
Likewise, the U.S. elections have implications on European countries such as Poland. “Donald Trump has [shown] unequivocal support for the current government, which is clearly encroaching on private liberties, is very conservative, is ignoring science, like Donald Trump,” said Beniamin Strzelecki, Class of 2022 and a Polish citizen. “They’ve been great buddies, and that has been a fuel for the current government [using] their good relationship with the U.S. as a way to avoid … internal backlash for straining good relations with European nations.”
Strzelecki is not expecting Biden to be as accepting of the actions of the Polish government, hence removing some vital international backing that has emboldened them. “They will hopefully have to be a bit more moderate will all of their ideas like tightening abortion laws, being very strict over immigration, hate speech against LGBTQ+ communities and very irresponsible handling of climate issues and the coronavirus,” added Strzelecki.
For others, the outcome of the U.S. elections seems more equivocal. “[Biden] will have an Iran policy closer to Obama’s than to Trump’s, and that will obviously change some [policies],” said Nadiya Aldhaheri, Class of 2024 and a UAE citizen. “On the opposite side, Trump [makes] big, big claims that he doesn’t have the authority to [make].”
Aldhaheri added that while we tend to focus our attention on Trump himself, he is not the sole decision maker and there are other bodies in the U.S. government that also make decisions.
Beyond the implications of the U.S. elections on specific countries, the next U.S. president also has influence in terms of the looming climate emergency. “I’m a person who very much cares about climate issues, and recognizing the role of the U.S. both in gross global emissions and their potential for political leadership in galvanizing other countries to increase their ambitions plays a very big role in solving the climate crisis,” said Strzelecki.
“Trump, who refuses to even believe that the climate crisis is real, once again being in power means that [the effects of the climate crisis will not be mitigated], and that scares me, especially thinking about the very real effects of the climate crisis that some of the most vulnerable communities in my country are already facing today,” added Arya Gautam, Class of 2023 and a Nepali citizen.
The results of the US elections have a powerful impact on the rest of the world, a concern for many NYU Abu Dhabi students who have been holding their breath as they await for the results to be announced.
Tom Abi Samra is Senior Opinion Editor. Email h at
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