Archive for the ‘Trump in Saudi Arabia’ category

Iran and Middle East Instability

June 3, 2017

Iran and Middle East Instability, American ThinkerShahriar Kia, June 3, 2017

During President Donald Trump’s trip to the region and beyond Iran was strongly condemned by the American leader and senior Saudi officials for its support for terrorism, destructive role across the Middle East, and meddling in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. Tehran is most specifically concerned with world leaders denouncing Iran’s human rights violations and acknowledging how the Iranian people are the main victims of the mullahs’ atrocities.

The Arabs, as the flagbearers of implementing U.S. sanctions, have launched the domino of freezing Iran’s money abroad. Iranian bank accounts in countries such as Turkey, Oman, and the UAE, especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, are being blocked one after another. This can be considered the prelude to comprehensive sanctions on Iran’s banking network.

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The end result of Iran’s presidential election has created further rifts and launched a more intense power struggle amongst the regime’s senior ranks. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, fearing a repeat of the 2009 scenario of nationwide uprisings, failed to “engineer” the election results with the aim of unifying his regime apparatus. Khamenei sought to prepare conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi as his heir by first placing him in the presidency, similar to the process he himself went through.

The elections, however, failed to provide such a finale and in fact prompted all candidates to unveil corruption in the most senior ranks. This has prompted the general public to increase their demands. Protests and demonstrations are witnessed these days in more than 30 cities and towns across Iran, with sporadic reports of clashes, following the bankruptcy of two state-run financial firms, Caspian and Arman.

Iran is also facing major foreign dilemmas, with a new international coalition shaping and targeting Tehran’s interests. The Arab-Islamic-American alliance, with the presence of 55 States, and Iran’s absence, delivered a major blow to the mullahs’ objectives in the Middle East.

On the other hand, Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), transferring all its members from Iraq to a number of European countries, has become ever more powerful. Through a vast network of supporters inside Iran, the PMOI/MEK was able to significantly influence the recent elections and place the regime in a quagmire like never before.

A major rally is scheduled for July 1st by supporters of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the political umbrella group of Iranian dissidents, including the PMOI/MEK. Policymakers and influential figures from across the globe will be gathering to provide a concrete plan to evict the mullahs’ presence from the region, how to establish freedom and democracy in Iran, and thus result in peace and stability in the Middle East. Last year more than 100,000 people took part in this convention.

During President Donald Trump’s trip to the region and beyond Iran was strongly condemned by the American leader and senior Saudi officials for its support for terrorism, destructive role across the Middle East, and meddling in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. Tehran is most specifically concerned with world leaders denouncing Iran’s human rights violations and acknowledging how the Iranian people are the main victims of the mullahs’ atrocities.

Despite the heavy blows and new sanctions against Tehran, Khamenei has chosen to remain completely silent. This is in complete contrast to the Obama era, where the mullahs’ leader resorted to harsh outbursts in response to even the slightest hint of threats by U.S. officials.

To this end, adopting a strong approach against Tehran has proven to be correct, parallel to the weakness seen in Tehran following the presidential election.

To add insult to injury for Iran, the Trump administration has imposed sanctions on dozens of Iran’s companies, sending a highly important message.

Sanctions have now expanded from ballistic missiles and reached the human rights perspective, and specifically targeting the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) with the objective of designating this entity as a foreign terrorist organization

The IRGC-affiliated Fars news agency described a new U.S. Senate bill as an “effort to bring Europe aboard in nuclear sanctions.”

“Foreign investment in Iran during the past four years has halved during the past four years, lowering from $4.6 billion to $2.05 billion,” according to Naseem Online citing a UN report.

The Arabs, as the flagbearers of implementing U.S. sanctions, have launched the domino of freezing Iran’s money abroad. Iranian bank accounts in countries such as Turkey, Oman, and the UAE, especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, are being blocked one after another. This can be considered the prelude to comprehensive sanctions on Iran’s banking network.

Is Rouhani able, or even willing?

Rouhani is neither willing nor able to carry out any measures outside of Khamenei’s framework. The entire apparatus and power structure is controlled by the Supreme Leader. As long as Iran remains under the mullahs’ regime structure, one should set aside all expectations of change emanating from within Iran. A look at Mohammad Khatami’s tenure is president from 1997 to 2005, andRouhani’s first term, are undeniable proof to this reality.

“They want to change our behavior, but changing it means changing our regime,”Khamenei said recently, signaling his red line.

Rouhani defending Iran’s missiles

The regime’s president recently said that Tehran would continue its ballistic missile program.

“… US officials should know whenever we need to technically test a missile, we will do so and will not wait for their permission,” he said in a news conference.
The Iranian regime reported recently the construction of a third underground ballistic missile production factory and will keep developing its missile program.

This came in the same week when Trump in his foreign visit described Iran as a supporter of militia groups and a threat to all Middle East countries.

Rouhani is an “utterly ruthless operator,” who had presided since 2013 over a collapsing economy and what Amnesty International called “a staggering execution spree,” murdering and imprisoning so many dissidents that Iran has per capita the highest execution rate in the world, according to Christopher Booker in a recent Telegraph article.

Obama’s departure ended the period of appeasement and golden opportunities for Tehran’s mullahs. The road ahead promises to be very difficult, to say the least.

The past four decades have proven that only regime change will bring about what the Iranian people desire and deserve. This is something that is supported by the NCRI and Rajavi’s ten-point plan, calling for a free and democratic Iran where equal opportunities are provided to all citizens regardless of gender, ethnicity, and religion. During the short campaigning season, Iranians manifested their support for Rajavi’s plan by putting up posters reading “Maryam Rajavi is our president.”

 

Trump’s new deal

May 24, 2017

Trump’s new deal, Israel Hayom, Boaz Bismuth, May 24, 2017

(The “nattering nabobs of negativism” are still numerous. No matter what happens it will be bad, they say. — DM)

Trump, it turns out, is not going to make the improvement of U.S.-Israel ties contingent on warmer relations between Israel and the Arabs. In his way, he apparently understands the Middle East better than most of the pundits analyzing him. He knows that in this part of the world, people respect you if you are strong; if you weaken your allies you are looked at with scorn. The players in the region respect his decision to stand by Israel — because they know this means he will keep his promises to them as well.

I have long said that Trump was good for the Jews. I said it as soon as he entered the 2016 race. I have long maintained that Trump’s new deal is actually going to be more pressure — on the Palestinians.

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Over the past several years, conventional wisdom among pundits was that Israel had lost America. They tried to drive home this argument even forcefully after Barack Obama became president.

They told us that Israel was losing its No. 1 ally because it was not relinquishing land; because it insisted that the Arabs recognize it as a Jewish state, and because it was not in a hurry to see a Palestinian state be established. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s personal relations with Obama were thrown into the mix as well, and the bottom line was that Israel and the U.S. are no longer friends. Israel, so their thinking went, could only pine for Christopher Columbus.

And then Donald Trump came along. As Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the other day, “America is back.”

It is also back in Israel. But the truth of the matter is that it never really went anywhere. It was Obama and its administration that went off course, not Israel. The experts said Israel must do a mea culpa and expected Obama to change the world, and Israel.

Ahead of Trump’s visit, this chorus of experts decided they would sing the same song they sang during the 1990s, using the same lyrics: “Palestinian state”; “ending the occupation is a prerequisite for ending Israel’s state of despair.” We all know how well things turned out during the 1990s.

They were willing to swear that as soon as Trump came to Israel, he would apply pressure on Israel and present demands. They said Netanyahu was nervous from what may come. They warned a diplomatic tsunami was making its way to Israel’s shores.

Some even borrowed medical lingo, saying Trump the candidate put some cotton wool on our skin to prepare from the shot, and now he was going to administer it.

What ultimately unfolded? It turned out that the president who visited Israel this week is the most pro-Israel we have seen in several decades. This man likes us, period. He repeatedly mentions the strong ties between Jerusalem and the Jewish people.

He has promised to protect Israel and to eradicate terrorism, and on the way he said he was determined to make sure Iran would not obtain nuclear weapons and that he would not let anyone hurt Israel. During his visit here he has repeatedly called Netanyahu “my good friend,” as if to make the point that he was not Obama.

How is that possible, the experts wondered. Hasn’t he visited Saudi Arabia on his way? Hasn’t he delivered a speech in front of some 50 Arab and Muslim leaders while he was there? Hasn’t he visited the Palestinian Authority during his trip?

And what about Tillerson, the former head of an energy giant? He cannot possibly be pro-Israel because he is a known wheeler and dealer in the Arab world, they warned.

They also noted that Trump promised to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem but has not done so in the first 120 days of his presidency. Undoubtably, that period is eternity. Not only that, they continued, Trump considered visiting the Western Wall with the prime minister but ultimately decided it would be a private visit. This, they insist, proves that he is actually Obama in Trump clothes.

But lo and behold, Trump’s visit actually ended well, and he had us asking for more. It feels good to have that genuine embrace of a U.S. administration once again. Yes, Israel was deeply loved in America even before Trump came to power, but in recent years this was manifested in Congress, in the public opinion polls in America, among American Christians and among taxi drivers. That’s it.

The Obama White House turned its back on Israel and helped, albeit indirectly, the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement flourish on U.S. campuses.

In the wake of the visit, I dared to think that maybe those experts don’t really know him. After all, the same Trump who was accused of being anti-Muslim got the royal treatment when he arrived in Saudi Arabia, meeting with some 50 Muslim leaders who know full well that he is in love with Zionism.

Trump, it turns out, is not going to make the improvement of U.S.-Israel ties contingent on warmer relations between Israel and the Arabs.. In his way, he apparently understands the Middle East better than most of the pundits analyzing him. He knows that in this part of the world, people respect you if you are strong; if you weaken your allies you are looked at with scorn. The players in the region respect his decision to stand by Israel — because they know this means he will keep his promises to them as well.

I have long said that Trump was good for the Jews. I said it as soon as he entered as the 2016 race. I have long maintained that Trump’s new deal is actually going to be more pressure — on the Palestinians.

Trump’s ‘Islam Speech’ Invited The Muslim World To A Renaissance

May 24, 2017

Trump’s ‘Islam Speech’ Invited The Muslim World To A Renaissance, The Federalist, May 24, 2017

Trump’s Riyadh Summit speech builds on common themes in Abrahamic faiths to advocate for human potential. One of those themes is the archaic but powerful idea of “good versus evil,” as we heard with the repeat phrase “drive them out” as you would drive out the devil that possess the hearts and minds of people, causing mischief in the land. It’s a language not only understood by people in that room, but also by the world watching. Speaking in simple binaries that break down the world into good and evil, President Trump created an opportunity that doesn’t shame Muslims plagued by terrorism. Instead it gives them something greater still to be a part of. That something is humanity.

The alternative is grim. The detriment and the high cost of doing nothing, as Trump points out, is not only the death of life under religious extremism, but also the death of dreams. Let’s give people something to work together for, whether those people are heads of states or those crushed under the weight of war. The speech also powerfully reframed refugees not as destitute victims, but as integral to building stable societies that give them not only autonomy but also dignity.

However flawed they still are, if Muslim nations are willing to come together in partnership with the United States for a common goal, then let’s work with them to secure all our interests

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President Trump embarked on an iconic first foreign tour this weekend to the Middle East that started with a stop in Saudi Arabia to deliver a much-anticipated speech on Islam. Americans sat at the edge of their seats in anticipation of what we all sensed was a defining moment in history.

The tour is described as resetting Middle East foreign policy, with President Trump as the first sitting president to embrace complex themes of faith tightly knotted in a rich and often violent regional history. Effectively, he’s channeled the most powerful seat in the world as a vehicle for the most burgeoning diplomatic struggle of the last century.

Yet what makes President Trump’s speech on Islam so iconic is that it wasn’t about Islam. It was about human potential. Presented at the Riyadh Summit, the speech paints a picture of the world that can still be created if nations unite in a common interest of security and advancement through mutual gain. That he spoke at the birthplace of Islam is symbolic because it points at the root of the problem: violent extremism linked to the most fundamentalist interpretations of Islam.

We Have a Common Threat Despite Internal Differences

As hinted in his speech, the last monotheistic faith is still awaiting its renaissance. While there are other issues including non-violent Islamic extremism (Islamism), government corruption, theocracies, autocracies, dictatorships, human rights violations, and failed women’s rights, and on and on, the greatest shadow darkening the future for a world of people is violent jihad that seeks to destroy all standing civilizations equally, including Islamic nation-states it sees as not being Islamic enough.

Back at home, Americans have questioned the authenticity of Muslim nations participating at the summit. American Muslims see the Saudi Arabia as hypocritical in its fight against extremism. Saudis are rightly accused of being both arsonists and firefighters in the fight against extremism.

What also rings true is the strong sense of survival and self-interest fueling the global coalition. Nations should be allies in a common fight, with the understanding that we will not agree on every front or tangential issue. We do not need to all agree; we just need to be aligned on the single greatest threat and work from there. That is how we move forward. Internally, each nation faces its own complications.

A common American reaction was petulant expectation that President Trump “tackle Saudi Arabia” short of going to war with the kingdom. Yet the man is not even allowed to effectively tackle homegrown Islamists in the United States without overwhelming opposition by media and interest groups using propaganda and disinformation.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is dealing with a house divided between Saudis who want progress and those reluctant to move into the twenty-first century, although both sides agree there is an existential threat coming from outside forces even more fundamentalist than they. They can also agree that it is in their collective interest to ally with the United States, something on which all representatives at the Riyadh Summit concur. President Trump understands the most direct path to effecting change is to work in people’s self-interest, to cater to advancement through mutual gain — a strategy that also won him the election.

Let’s Get Beyond Survival

At this exact moment in history, this is about survival. But it is also about what comes after survival. What does the next phase of human evolution look like, and how do we rally the world of people around it?

Trump’s Riyadh Summit speech builds on common themes in Abrahamic faiths to advocate for human potential. One of those themes is the archaic but powerful idea of “good versus evil,” as we heard with the repeat phrase “drive them out” as you would drive out the devil that possess the hearts and minds of people, causing mischief in the land. It’s a language not only understood by people in that room, but also by the world watching. Speaking in simple binaries that break down the world into good and evil, President Trump created an opportunity that doesn’t shame Muslims plagued by terrorism. Instead it gives them something greater still to be a part of. That something is humanity.

The alternative is grim. The detriment and the high cost of doing nothing, as Trump points out, is not only the death of life under religious extremism, but also the death of dreams. Let’s give people something to work together for, whether those people are heads of states or those crushed under the weight of war. The speech also powerfully reframed refugees not as destitute victims, but as integral to building stable societies that give them not only autonomy but also dignity.

In this way, not only was President Trump’s speech iconic, it was visionary for emphasizing humanity and what can still be achieved if we come together. As a Muslim reformer, I focus on getting us to the next phase of human evolution, something that cannot happen without uniting world powers for a common goal. It is a powerful move necessary to destroy the Goliath that’s draining our resources and diverting our attention.

That “Goliath” is the version of Islam that demands we forfeit our humanity. To defeat it, we will need everyone on board, including the people we see as enemies today. If we have to sit at a table with Saudi Arabia to do it, so be it. If Americans expect the Middle East to shed the skin of their tribal identities, then we too have to break out of the tribal mindset that only sees people and populations as one-dimensional. However flawed they still are, if Muslim nations are willing to come together in partnership with the United States for a common goal, then let’s work with them to secure all our interests.

Trump in Israel

May 23, 2017

Trump in Israel, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Greenfield, May 23, 2017

Every act of Islamic terror educates us. It is a difficult and bloody education. We graduate when we realize who our enemies are and how impossible it is to achieve any peace with them.

President Trump’s walk to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre required thousands of police officers, closed stores and houses filled with snipers while their residents were evacuated. 

That is life under the shadow of terrorism.

It’s not only presidents who have to live this way. It’s all of us in Jerusalem and Paris, in Manchester and in Rome where there are soldiers in the street and cries of “Allah Akbar” in the air. And then a car speeds up, a knife slashes, a plane crashes or a bomb goes off. 

And the education continues.

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When President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu met on the tarmac, they and their spouses chatted easily. The two conservative leaders have much in common. They are political insurgents who draw their support from a rougher working class overlooked and despised by leftist elites.

The polls said that Netanyahu and Trump would lose their respective elections. Instead they won big. They prevailed despite accusations of bigotry, attacks by celebrities and a torrent of fake media scandals. The media decided that the big story of Trump’s arrival in Israel would be their claim that Melania Trump had swatted her husband’s hand away. A few months ago, Netanyahu was in court testifying against a lefty journalist for spreading fake news that his wife had kicked him out of the car.

Like so much of the fake media news aimed at Trump, it was sourced from an anonymous source through another anonymous source who knew someone’s dog.

And, sure enough, Sara Netanyahu and Melania Trump bonded on the tarmac over the media’s hatred.

Trump and Netanyahu are political pragmatists with a strong economic focus who run to the right. Trump is a developer. Netanyahu has a degree in architecture. Trump has a Queens accent and Netanyahu still has his Philly accent.  And they prevail despite the opposition of leftist elites.

Subtract the geography and this news story from Netanyahu’s victory would sound familiar to Trump. “Leftist, secular Tel Aviv went to sleep last night cautiously optimistic only to wake up this morning in a state of utter and absolute devastation.”

But there is one difference between the two men.

An hour before President Trump landed in Israel, a car struck people in Tel Aviv. Usually when a car hits people, it’s an accident. But in Israeli and in European cities, car ramming has become a terrorist tactic.

And so the incident was one of the first things that Trump heard about when he landed.

Police decided that it was an accident, but as the presidential visit got underway, there was the usual litany of violence; stonings, a fatality and a stabbing. And the question that so many of us now ponder across the civilized world rose unspoken each time blood was shed. Was it Islamic terrorism?

The efforts of conservative Israeli prime ministers to contain the fallout of a disastrous peace process with terrorists set into motion by leftist prime ministers have reduced the violence so that it no longer touches the lives of most Israelis on a regular basis. But it is always there. And it never truly goes away.

That is what must be understood when we talk about “peace”.

No amount of outreach to Muslim terrorists ends the violence. Not in Europe or America. And not in Israel; the country that has become the test case for whether Muslims and non-Muslims can coexist.

President Trump’s itinerary of Saudi Arabia, Israel and Rome is a gamble that “the three Abrahamic Faiths” will join in a coalition to take on Iran and ISIS. It’s a better plan than Bush’s push for regional democracy or Obama’s violently destructive backing for Islamist political takeovers in the Arab Spring. A common enemy is more likely to get different groups behind the same cause. But having a common enemy should not be confused with having peace. At best it means a very temporary truce.

Netanyahu understands this because he has far more experience with Islamic terrorism. When it comes to Islamic terrorism, there are few countries that have faced it as consistently and constantly as Israel.

Muslim terrorists have struck America before. But only in the last decade were the Islamic colonies in the United States large enough and young enough to mount a constant drumbeat of attack plots.

Thousands of terrorism investigations are still new to America. They’re a way of life in Israel.

Terrorism is a bloody education. Trump knows far more about Islamic terrorism than Bush did. And Bush knew far more than his father. Most Americans still can’t conceive of the idea that peace is impossible. It’s too grim and hopeless. We’ve come a long way since the Obama years. But we aren’t there yet.

In the spring of his first year, Obama traveled to the Middle East to seek a “new beginning” with the Muslim world. He stopped off first in Saudi Arabia, but saved his speech calling for political change until his arrival in Egypt. Trump delivered his key speech in Saudi Arabia disavowing calls for political change. Instead America’s relationship with the Muslim world would be defined by its national security needs.

Obama blamed colonialism for the poor relations between the West and the Muslim world. His solution was to dismantle Western power. Trump defined Islamic terrorism as the problem and unity against it as the solution. Obama had bypassed Israel and traveled on to Germany making a heavily publicized visit to the Buchenwald concentration camp. Trump continued on to Israel instead.

The difference was profound.

Obama was more comfortable engaging with Jews as victims and, in a typically egotistical manner, envisioning what the victims of the Holocaust might have made of his visit. “They could not have known that one day an American President would visit this place and speak of them.” His Cairo speech reduced Israel to a byproduct of the Holocaust. If so, Israel’s capital might as well be in Buchenwald.

Trump however is ready to interact with the living Jewish present in Israel. His trip to the Western Wall, the first by a sitting president, and a cancelled visit to Masada, sought to engage with Israel’s national and religious identity. They signify a recognition that Obama never offered to Israel.

In Saudi Arabia, President Trump rolled out a vision of relationships based on national interest. And no such relationship can be built without recognizing national identity. Trump’s recognition of Israel’s national identity adds a note of respect. But Israel is one of the few nations in the region.

Nations can make peace. They can put aside their bloody past and at least learn to ignore each other. And in the West, religion has come to act as a moral operating system within the infrastructure of nations. Religion provides guidelines that transcend the law. The legal system can only tell us what we must do or may not do to each other. Religion tells us what we ought to do or not do to each other. It is a personal conscience and a relationship to a higher authority than mere government.

Saudi Arabia isn’t a nation. Neither is “Palestine”. They’re powerful extended families whose form of worship is terrorism. Islamic terrorism isn’t a perversion of Islam. It’s the implementation of Islam.

Islam provides the morale and motive for the conquest. And once the conquest is complete, it provides the framework for the kingdom. Islam’s message is the inferiority of Muslims to non-Muslims. War affirms the message. Oppression internalizes it. Islam is meaningful only when it is killing and oppressing infidels. It is not a religion of the persecuted, but the persecutors. Its theology is violent supremacism.

President Trump deserves credit for refusing to let the Saudis pretend that some Islamic terror groups are more legitimate than others by classing together ISIS with Hamas. But the only Islamic terrorism that the Saudis will reject is that which does not serve their interests. And even if they wanted to, they could no more end popular support for Islamic terrorism than Iraq could become a multicultural utopia through the magic of democracy.

Nor can Israel make peace with Islamic terrorists no matter how many more concessions Prime Minister Netanyahu offers them. President Trump calls it a tough deal. But you can only make a deal with someone who follows some of the same rules you do. You can’t make a deal with Islamic terrorists whose only rules are that the Koran lets them [say] anything they want to you.

President Trump called Islamic terrorism evil. And it is. But it’s not just evil. Its codes and ethics are utterly incompatible with our own. The only way to negotiate is through threats. And even threats only go so far with fanatics who believe that if they die, they will earn 72 virgins in paradise.

Islamic entities will tell any lie and commit any crime to accelerate their objective of conquering us. Whether they tell a lie or commit a crime depends on whether they’re moderates or extremists.

Yesterday, I heard Geert Wilders speak. And I recognized a leader who understands this grim reality. Few of his fellow Europeans do. Even fewer American politicians share that understanding. Europe is facing a deeper threat than America. And Israel has been confronting a bigger threat than Europe.

Every act of Islamic terror educates us. It is a difficult and bloody education. We graduate when we realize who our enemies are and how impossible it is to achieve any peace with them.

President Trump’s walk to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre required thousands of police officers, closed stores and houses filled with snipers while their residents were evacuated.

That is life under the shadow of terrorism.

It’s not only presidents who have to live this way. It’s all of us in Jerusalem and Paris, in Manchester and in Rome where there are soldiers in the street and cries of “Allah Akbar” in the air. And then a car speeds up, a knife slashes, a plane crashes or a bomb goes off.

And the education continues.

Trump Breaks the Diplomatic Mold

May 23, 2017

Trump Breaks the Diplomatic Mold, Commentary Magazine. May 22, 2017

President Donald Trump walks with Saudi King Salman at the Arab Islamic American Summit, at the King Abdulaziz Conference Center, Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Riyadh. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Upon arrival, Trump received a royal welcome. Saudi King Salman braved the 101-degree heat of the tarmac to greet the presidential plane personally. A brass band serenaded the two world leaders as cannons issued celebratory volleys and seven Saudi jets streamed trails of red, white, and blue overhead. The president and the king joined one another in the presidential limo and rode off together to an extravagant ceremony at the Saudi Court, where attention was even lavished upon the president’s aides.

The intentional contrast this reception struck with Barack Obama’s 2014 trip to the Saudi Kingdom was stark. Upon Obama’s arrival, King Salman dispatched only his distant nephew, the provincial governor of Riyadh, to meet the leader of the free world. The Obama White House did its best to save face, but the snub was a clear indication that tensions surrounding Iran nuclear deal, the ongoing bloodshed in Syria, and Obama’s explicit antipathy toward the Saudi Kingdom as a nation unworthy of an alliance with America.

As COMMENTARY’s Evelyn C. Gordon discussed, in exchange for Israeli technology and intelligence, a relaxation of the Gaza blockade, and the cessation of settlement construction in “some areas,” this Sunni alliance would “establish direct telecommunication links with Israel, let Israeli aircraft overfly their countries, lift certain trade restrictions and perhaps grant visas to Israeli athletes and businessmen.” And all of this would occur with existing Palestinian realities utterly unchanged. Even if no further progress toward peace in the region is secured, that bell cannot be un-rung.

A truly successful presidency in the Middle East may begin first with the abandonment of that burdensome, dog-eared diplomatic playbook.

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There is perhaps nothing a global class of calcified diplomatic professionals appreciates more than subtlety and nuance. Donald Trump’s tour of the world’s three major religious capitals is about as unsubtle and unnuanced as you can get. To many seasoned diplomats, this administration’s naïve effort to forge peace in this fashion is downright dangerous—possibly more than the administration even knows. Maybe. Or maybe the president and his team are dispensing with ossified convention in a field that could desperately use some fresh thinking. With the first leg of Trump’s world theological tour complete, it is not impossible that something new is taking shape.

In Saudi Arabia this weekend, Donald Trump danced with swords, touched an ominous glowing orb, and delivered a narrowly tailored and reasonably well-received speech on radical Islamic terrorism in the heart of the Islamic world. Among many other regional power brokers, the president also met with the leaders of Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain. What Trump did in the Saudi Kingdom is, however, less interesting than how the Saudis responded to him.

Upon arrival, Trump received a royal welcome. Saudi King Salman braved the 101-degree heat of the tarmac to greet the presidential plane personally. A brass band serenaded the two world leaders as cannons issued celebratory volleys and seven Saudi jets streamed trails of red, white, and blue overhead. The president and the king joined one another in the presidential limo and rode off together to an extravagant ceremony at the Saudi Court, where attention was even lavished upon the president’s aides.

The intentional contrast this reception struck with Barack Obama’s 2014 trip to the Saudi Kingdom was stark. Upon Obama’s arrival, King Salman dispatched only his distant nephew, the provincial governor of Riyadh, to meet the leader of the free world. The Obama White House did its best to save face, but the snub was a clear indication that tensions surrounding Iran nuclear deal, the ongoing bloodshed in Syria, and Obama’s explicit antipathy toward the Saudi Kingdom as a nation unworthy of an alliance with America.

From Saudi Arabia, Trump traveled directly to Israel—itself a shift in convention—where he was also greeted warmly. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife met the president and first lady at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. Using his remarks alongside Trump to issue a veiled rebuke of Obama, Netanyahu noted: “We appreciate the reassertion of American leadership in the Middle East.”

President Obama entered office with the objective of creating a new power balance in the region that would allow the United States to withdraw confidently. The former president’s stated belief that America’s alliance toward Israel “erodes our credibility with the Arab states” in combination with his mistrust toward Sunni Arab states like Saudi Arabia and Egypt left him with few ways of achieving that goal. There’s a cosmic irony in the fact that Obama’s navel-gazing paved the way for a radically new and promising dynamic to emerge in the Middle East. Conceptually, the strategy Trump is pursuing in the Middle East is wildly divergent from his predecessors. He is effectively abandoning the idea that there can be no resolution of the Arab World’s hostility toward Israel without first creating a Palestinian state.

As recently as February, administration sources began providing details to the press about a proposed pan-Sunni military alliance designed to both counter Islamist extremism and a resurgent Iran. That alliance would include states with unfrozen relations with Israel, like Egypt and Jordan, and nations like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which do not recognize the Jewish state. According to a recent bombshell report, however, the prospect of a radical relaxation in tensions between Israel and the Arab World is real.

As COMMENTARY’s Evelyn C. Gordon discussed, in exchange for Israeli technology and intelligence, a relaxation of the Gaza blockade, and the cessation of settlement construction in “some areas,” this Sunni alliance would “establish direct telecommunication links with Israel, let Israeli aircraft overfly their countries, lift certain trade restrictions and perhaps grant visas to Israeli athletes and businessmen.” And all of this would occur with existing Palestinian realities utterly unchanged. Even if no further progress toward peace in the region is secured, that bell cannot be un-rung.

Donald Trump isn’t the first American president to benefit from warm feelings solely because he isn’t the last guy to have occupied the Oval Office. When it comes to the Middle East, crises and chaos have a habit of scuttling even the best-laid plans. Iranian power projection into places like Iraq, Yemen, and Syria has, however, created new avenues of cooperation between adversarial powers with a common enemy in Tehran. If Trump can translate this new reality into tangible accomplishment (a big “if”), he will have the makings of a potent argument for his presidency and a second term.

On foreign affairs, in particular, President Donald Trump has invited the wrath of the critics. He is “the world’s most undiplomatic” diplomat who has embraced illiberal and strategically inept “lame-stream diplomacy.” Indeed, his “rejection of traditional diplomacy for his own distinctive, brusque style has incurred costs without any visible offsetting benefits.” In his article “Is This the End of the Free World,” Abe Greenwald demonstrated that Trump has an appalling and lamentably familiar habit of alienating America’s natural allies. It’s a nasty feature of a distorted worldview, and it may result in the continued loss of allied faith in American vision and authority. For now, however, not only is the Middle East obviously thrilled for the Obama era to be over but that has provided Donald Trump with the opportunity for a real diplomatic triumph. A truly successful presidency in the Middle East may begin first with the abandonment of that burdensome, dog-eared diplomatic playbook.

Al Qaeda criticizes Saudi relations with West during President Trump’s visit

May 22, 2017

Al Qaeda criticizes Saudi relations with West during President Trump’s visit, Long War Journal May 22, 2017

Al Qaeda seized on President Donald J. Trump’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia to once again criticize the royal family and call for an uprising.

According to bin Laden, these early Saudi dealings with the West led to the British capture of Palestine and, later on, the establishment of the Israeli state.

Osama bin Laden liked to argue that there is a “Zionist-Crusader” conspiracy against Muslims. His son, Hamza, has continued with these themes, making it one of his central talking points and accusing the House of Saud of being part of it.

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On May 20, al Qaeda’s propaganda arm, As Sahab, released an audio message from Hamza bin Laden. The junior bin Laden follows in his father’s footsteps by blasting the Saudi royal family. His speech is the second part in a series aimed at the House of Saud. Part 1, in which Hamza called for regime change, was released last August.

It’s not clear when Hamza recorded his latest anti-Saudi message. He does not mention President Trump or the American delegation. Instead, he focuses on the early decades of the Saudi dynasty, portraying it as a corrupt regime that serves the interests of the West. Still, al Qaeda undoubtedly wanted to maximize the audience for Hamza’s audio by releasing it during President Trump’s visit.

Then, on May 21, al Qaeda published the 15th issue of its Al Nafir Bulletin (seen below). The one-page newsletter is devoted to Trump’s visit. “The Al Saud rulers and all apostate rulers appear before us today in wasteful ceremonies to offer loyalty and renew their allegiance to the hateful Crusader master of the White House, Trump,” the newsletter reads.

Just hours before Al Nafir was released online, President Trump attended a ceremony with King Salman and Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi to commemorate the opening of the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology in Riyadh. Unsurprisingly, Al Nafir’s editors criticize the move, arguing that the “rulers” had really committed to building “an apostate army to fight jihad and the Mujahideen in the name of fighting terror and terrorism.” The center will be used “to fight faith, purity, and commitment, under the call to fight extremism, backwardness, and intolerance,” al Qaeda contends.

In Al-Nafir, al Qaeda also argues that the Saudi government should give its money to the people instead of investing it in defense deals and other arrangements with the US. Al Qaeda uses these two issues — the Saudis’ supposed misuse of funds and the creation of the new center — to renew its call for jihad.

“So here are the Crusaders and the apostates, and they have stolen your money, fought your religion, shed your blood, and transgressed against your honor,” Al Nafir reads. “When will you return to your religion and do jihad in the cause of Allah?”

Hamza bin Laden’s critique of Ibn Saud

Al Qaeda has been raising Hamza’s media profile since the summer of 2015, when he was first introduced as a prominent jihadist figure. On May 13, just one week before Hamza’s new anti-Saudi message, As Sahab released another speech from Osama’s heir. In that talk, Hamza provided advice to “martyrdom seekers” living in the West. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report: Hamza bin Laden offers ‘advice for martyrdom seekers in the West’]

In his latest message, Hamza accuses the Saudi government of promulgating a false version of its own history, arguing that “generations have been raised” ignorant of what truly transpired during the first years of the 20th Century, when the House of Saud rose. Bin Laden is keen to undermine King Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud’s (Ibn Saud) legacy, portraying him as a witting agent of the British. Only when the proper history is told, Hamza says, will Muslims “understand the magnitude of the injustice brought upon” their country and then work to “restore” their “stolen rights.”

Bin Laden accuses Ibn Saud of working with the British from the beginning, seeking their “approval” before leaving Kuwait (where the Saud family lived) and conquering the city of Riyadh in 1902. Riyadh and large parts of the Arabian peninsula were controlled by Ibn Rashid’s men, who were allied with the Ottoman Empire at the time. Bin Laden says Ibn Saud could only expand his power at the expense of the Ottoman Empire’s allies and he sought assistance from the British to do it. This, from al Qaeda’s perspective, violates Islamic law, as Ibn Saud attacked fellow Muslims while working with the British.

According to bin Laden, the Saudi telling of Ibn Saud’s early conquests omits these “sharia violations,” including the assault on the Ottoman’s ally “to serve the English” and the “unlawful killing of Muslims.”

In the period leading up to World War I, the Ottoman government sought to reconcile the opposing forces inside the Arabian Peninsula. And so a deal was struck between the Ottomans and Ibn Saud, which granted the Saudi patriarch territorial rights in exchange for military cooperation and an agreement to prevent “foreign powers” from expanding their influence in the region. But Ibn Saud broke this agreement as well, bin Laden says, after he again sided with the British. (Ibn Saud’s territory was declared a British protectorate as part of a treaty in 1915.) Ibn Saud moved on the Turks’ main client, Ibn Rashid, despite their previous understanding. In so doing, bin Laden charges, the founder of the Saudi dynasty paved the way for “the English and their allies to occupy the homelands of the Muslims.”

Bin Laden reminds his audience that Captain William Henry Irvine Shakespear, a British emissary, served as Ibn Saud’s military adviser and had “command” of the Muslim forces while organizing “their ranks.” This was part of Britain’s broader “financial and military” support for Ibn Saud. This is all “clear evidence” of English support, bin Laden says, and led to “Crusader hegemony” over the region.

According to bin Laden, these early Saudi dealings with the West led to the British capture of Palestine and, later on, the establishment of the Israeli state.

Osama bin Laden liked to argue that there is a “Zionist-Crusader” conspiracy against Muslims. His son, Hamza, has continued with these theme, making it one of his central talking points and accusing the House of Saud of being part of it.

Dore Gold on “Fox & Friends,” May 22, 2017

May 22, 2017

Dore Gold on “Fox & Friends,” May 22, 2017, The Jerusalem Center via YouTube