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UN Jerusalem vote: Donald Trump's threat to cut foreign aid akin to 'diplomatic prostitution'

The official says the US is telling the world: 'Unless you vote with us, we’re not going to give you money'

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
Friday 22 December 2017 21:02 GMT
Phil Mudd says Donald Trump threatening aid over UN vote is 'diplomatic prostitution'

A former CIA official has said that US President Donald Trump’s threat to cut foreign aid over the United Nations vote on Jerusalem is akin to “diplomatic prostitution.”

The scathing criticism came from Phil Mudd, the former director of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Centre.

He appeared on CNN and said: “We are telling people, ‘Unless you vote with us, we’re not going to give you money. And if your heart doesn’t agree with American policies, we’re not going to support you in terms of US aid.”

The UN had voted 128-9 to make the US decision to recognise the Holy City as the capital of Israel “null and void”.

It is a non-binding vote, but seen more as a symbolic message from the world to the Trump administration about breaking over 50 years of diplomatic policy towards Israel and disputed territory with Palestinians.

Speaking to members of his cabinet ahead of the vote, Mr Trump said: “For all these nations, they take our money and then vote against us. They take hundreds of millions of dollars, even billions of dollars and then they vote against us.”

Donald Trump threatens to cut 'billions of dollars' of aid to countries over UN Jerusalem vote

“We’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care,” Mr Trump said.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley echoed the sentiment at the UN just ahead of the vote the the US will “remember” the countries that voted “yes,” against the Americans.

She noted that the US is the “single largest contributor” to the world body but this vote could change that.

In 2016, the US contributed approximately $13bn (£9.7bn)​ in economic and military assistance to countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, and $1.6bn to states in East Asia and Oceania, according to the US Agency for International Development.

Mr Mudd said to “remember, this isn’t just about aid,” using the US-Egypt relationship as an example.

Egypt voted “yes” and Mr Mudd said “one of the reasons that the president has developed a relationship with President Sisi of Egypt is that he is so aggressive against the version of ISIS that is operating Egypt. Do you think [Mr Trump is] going to get on the phone and say because of one vote that’s non-binding in the UN we’re going to back down on our partnership with you as you kill ISIS partners in Egypt?”

Mr Mudd said he does not believe there will be any reprisal against Egypt or any of the other 127 countries that voted “yes.”

“The Americans aren’t going to do it, and the president’s not going to back it up,” he said.

However, UN expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations told The Independent that “the US will probably make some token aid cuts, but if [Mr Trump] really slashes assistance to scores of countries, he will just weaken US influence further.”

After the vote, Ms Haley’s only public response has been the announcement of a “friendship” party for all the nine countries that voted “no” with the US, the 35 countries that abstained from voting, and the 21 countries that were not present for the vote.

The White House nor Mr Trump have responded to the vote as yet.

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