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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Steve Bannon firing: Winners and losers

Mr Bannon’s sacking has had repercussions for many both inside and outside the White House

Steve Bannon's firing has sent shockwaves through Washington. Credit: Alex Brandon/ AP Photo
Steve Bannon's firing has sent shockwaves through Washington. Credit: Alex Brandon/ AP Photo

The ousting of Donald Trump’s chief strategist and campaign victory architect Steve Bannon has sent shockwaves across Washington, given what the former official represented in the alt-right nationalistic movement and what his exit could mean for US policy.

CNN reported on Friday that Mr Bannon was given the option “to resign” but was instead fired. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed his exit in a statement confirming that "White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve's last day. We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.”

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Trump's chief strategist to leave the White House

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Mr Bannon is seen as one of the most controversial personas in modern US politics and his White House exit after seven months in the job is a statement to that divide around his policies. To his adversaries, he is a dangerous anti-Globalization radical who will stop at nothing to gut the system. And for his supporters, he is a champion for an America First doctrine, and a force to help undo trade agreements and shock the political system.

In that context, the winners and losers from Mr Bannon’s ouster can be categorised as following:

Winners:

1- HR McMaster: The US National Security Adviser spared no time to get in Mr Bannon’s way shortly after he assumed office last February. It was Mr McMaster’s efforts that pushed Mr Bannon out of the national security principals committee last April, leading up to firing of four senior officials from the national security council who close to Mr Bannon. In the last two weeks, Mr Bannon’s allies outside the government including Mike Cernovich flooded the internet with anti-McMaster leaks and stories.

In response to being asked on Sunday if he could still work with Mr Bannon, the former General told NBC: “I am ready to work with anybody who will help advance the president's agenda and advance the security, prosperity of the American people.”

2- Chief of staff John Kelly: Mr Kelly is the only name mentioned in the White House statement announcing Mr Bannon’s exit. The ousting, which comes three weeks after the retired General took over as chief of staff, is a major win for Mr Kelly, who is looking to enforce a more organised and less ideological operation in the White House. Mr Kelly according to The Daily Beast was keeping a close eye on Mr Bannon, whom many suspected to be “a major source of smears, leaks, and bitter infighting”.

New Yorker Jared Kushner (R) was often at odds with Mr Bannon (L) on policy decisions. Credit: Kevin Lamarque/ Reuters
New Yorker Jared Kushner (R) was often at odds with Mr Bannon (L) on policy decisions. Credit: Kevin Lamarque/ Reuters

3- The New Yorkers and Mike Pence: The Trump family in the White House, mainly his son-in-law Jared Kushner, daughter Ivanka, as well as other New Yorkers, economic adviser Gary Cohn and deputy national security adviser Dina Powell were at odds with Mr Bannon on policy decisions and sphere of influence. Whether the topic is healthcare law, wall street, or a White Supremacist march in Charlottesville, the New Yorkers around Mr Trump were more in the moderate camp than Mr Bannon. His exit will help, and Mr Kelly’s tighter operation will help their case.

Vice President Mike Pence, whom Mr Bannon tried to undermine on foreign policy and with European allies, also stands to reap the benefits from his exit. The Vice President himself is a Republican establishment figure, whom Mr Bannon had a troubled relation with.

4- Europe, Pope Francis and China: "We're at economic war with China...One of us is going to be a hegemon in 25 or 30 years and it's gonna be them if we go down this path” Mr Bannon said in an interview on Wednesday. He viewed China as a main rival for United States, and advocated more hawkish policies toward Beijing on currency and trade.

Mr Bannon also viewed the European Union as a flawed construct and threatened in February to do business with the countries only on bilateral basis.

Pope Francis will be glad to see the back of Mr Bannon. Credit: Franco Origlia / Getty Images
Pope Francis will be glad to see the back of Mr Bannon. Credit: Franco Origlia / Getty Images

Pope Francis and the Vatican were also at odds with Mr Bannon, and accused him of promoting “apocalyptic geopolitics” and trying to align with hardliners in the Catholic church against the reformist Pope.

Losers from Bannon’s exit:

1-The Alt-Right movement in the US: They view Mr Bannon as a hero and someone who champions their ideas on immigration, anti-trade policies, and more rigid border control. His ascension in the Trump campaign and into the White House might be the closest the movement will ever get to the Oval office.

2-Bannon’s allies in White House: West Wing officials as Sebastian Gorka or Michael Anton who are closely ideologically aligned with Mr Bannon could be feeling the heat after his departure. An empowered John Kelly could continue the reshuffle and bring a more coherent team to place especially if the leaks continue after Mr Bannon’s departure.

Far-right leader Marine le Pen was admired by Mr Bannon. Credit: Michel Euler / AP
Far-right leader Marine le Pen was admired by Mr Bannon. Credit: Michel Euler / AP

3-The Anti-Globalist movement: Represented today by Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen, who have lost an ally in the White House with Mr Bannon’s exit. According to Politico, Mr Bannon admired “the anti-immigrant policies and economic nationalism of National Front leader Marine Le Pen” who lost the election in a landslide to Emmanuel Macron last May.