7 Major Foreign Policy Challenges Facing President Donald Trump

Seven of the most vexing foreign policy challenges facing Trump in January.

ByJustin Fishel
January 23, 2017, 2:02 PM

— -- The 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, has inherited a number of daunting foreign policy challenges spanning the globe from the Middle East through East Asia.

Trump tweeted this morning that "THE WORK BEGINS!" yet many of his top foreign policy positions have yet to be confirmed by the Senate, including CIA Director and Secretary of State.

The White House website says Trump will execute an "American first foreign policy ... focused on American interests and American national security." The White House policy will center on "peace through strength," made possible in part, it says, by pursuing "the highest level of military readiness."

ABC News looked at seven of the most challenging foreign policy issues facing the new administration, and what President Trump said about each over the past several months.

1. ISIS

The White House announced today that for this new commander-in-chief, defeating ISIS and eliminating the direct threat it poses to Americans at home and abroad will be the "highest priority."

Just in the last two days, the United States military conducted two separate rounds of airstrikes in Libya and Syria its says killed nearly 200 ISIS and al-Qaeda militants. The U.S. Department of State has a standing "worldwide travel caution" for all Americans traveling abroad, which warns about the continuing threat of terror attacks.

"In the past year, major terrorist attacks occurred in Belgium, France, Germany, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Nigeria, Syria, Iraq, Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh among others," the State Department warning says. "Authorities believe there is a continued likelihood of attacks against U.S., Western, and coalition partner interests throughout the world, especially in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and Asia."

The new administration will be under enormous pressure to finish the fights to retake ISIS strongholds in Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa, Syria -- and could easily be faced with a shift in enemy tactics, an insurgency and a protracted fight that could force the White House to make difficult decisions about whether to commit more U.S. forces on the ground.

Guiding stable government institutions to fill the vacuum left by ISIS and encouraging a successful political resolution to the five-year civil war in Syria, ideally including the removal of brutal Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, are also enormous challenges.

The refugee crisis caused by both the war in Syria and the violent tactics of ISIS is another pressing issue. Amnesty International estimates the conflict in Syria has forced more than 4.5 million refugees from Syria who are now living in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. The Trump administration will need to work with world powers to manage that refugee flow to prevent more humanitarian suffering and potential they have to destabilize governments that take them in.

What Trump has said: Trump has not presented a clear strategy to defeat ISIS, often claiming that public strategy discussion would tip off the enemy. He has said, though, that he would fight ISIS aggressively.

Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced that the Trump administration would be keeping the State Department's top counter-ISIS planner, Brett McGurk, to ensure continuity.

But in regards to the refugee crisis, Trump rejected calls from former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to increase the number of refugees from Syria and Iraq admitted into the U.S. He instead proposed banning Muslim immigration to the U.S. and later called for "extreme vetting" of applicants.

2. RUSSIA

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