Trump and Saudi complications

USA President Donald Trump has just signed a $100 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia – he says it will be good for jobs in the US – and has painted Iran as the enemy of peace in the Middle East.

New York Times details some of the complications and contradictions: In Saudi Arabia, Trump Reaches Out to Sunni Nations, at Iran’s Expense

As voters in Iran danced in the streets, celebrating the landslide re-election of a moderate as president, President Trump stood in front of a gathering of leaders from across the Muslim world and called on them to isolate a nation he said had “fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror.”

That nation was Iran.

In using the headline address of his first foreign trip as president to declare his commitment to Sunni Arab nations, Mr. Trump signaled a return to an American policy built on alliances with Arab autocrats, regardless of their human rights records or policies that sometimes undermine American interests.

At the same time, he rejected the path taken by his predecessor, Barack Obama. Mr. Obama engaged with Iran to reach a breakthrough nuclear accord, which Mr. Trump’s administration has acknowledged Iran is following.

Will Trump put that accord at risk?

In his remarks, Mr. Trump signalled his intention to end engagement with Iran, suggesting that it does not encourage change from inside the country.

And he is engaging more with Saudi Arabia which shows no sign of changing.

But in Iran, many were pushing for change. Emboldened by the election results, crowds of Iranians in the capital, Tehran, demanded what they hope President Hassan Rouhani’s second term will bring: the release of opposition figures, more freedom of thought and fewer restrictions on daily life.

For those who voted for Mr. Rouhani, there was a feeling of tremendous relief that his challenger, the hard-line cleric Ebrahim Raisi, who criticized the nuclear deal with the United States and other Western powers, had lost.

But Trump says that Iran is bad – which happens to align with Saudi (and Israeli) thinking.

In his speech on Sunday, Mr. Trump, a guest of the Saudi monarch, spoke of a stronger alliance with mostly Sunni Muslim nations to fight terrorism and extremist ideology and to push back against Iran.

Iran accuses Saudi Arabia of spreading an intolerant creed that fuels terrorism and threatens minorities. Saudi Arabia says Iran works through nonstate actors to weaken Arab nations.

This is one of the power struggles in the Middle East. Trump is clearly taking one side.

“Iran — fresh from real elections — attacked by @POTUS in that bastion of democracy & moderation,” Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, wrote on Twitter, speaking of Saudi Arabia.

Hamidreza Taraghi, a hard-line analyst, said of Mr. Trump, “This man just wants to sell American weapons and use Iran as an excuse.”

In deepening the United States’ alliance with gulf countries, Mr. Trump is bringing it closer to nations that share few cultural values with the United States and have sometimes acted against its interests.

Saudi Arabia, for one, is a monarchy where citizens have few rights and the public practice of any religion other than Islam is banned. It has used its military and its oil wealth to protect the Sunni monarchy that rules over a Shiite majority in neighboring Bahrain and to prop up President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt.

Pile more arms in to the Middle East, drive a divide between competing factions, and peace shall reign.

3 Comments

  1. Zedd

     /  May 23, 2017

    I’m just wondering what Mr T got the ‘highest saudi civilian award’ for, after only being in the kingdom a few minutes ?

    Also.. why is the head of a majority ‘Protestant nation’ reportedly rushing to meet the pope, after being in Israel ?

    sounds like NWO stuff 2i?? 😀

  2. Makes sense, he’s been to the keeper of the keys to Mecca and tipped his lid to Islam, then onto the holder off the keys (interim) to Jerusalem, Israel and the Jewish and Christian faith and then to see the leader of Roman Catholicism. Get the message.
    I surmise Trump got the decoration for allowing access to the Counter Terrorist fusion centre that he and the King initiated during the trip. Its a big deal!

  1. Trump and Saudi complications – NZ Conservative Coalition