3 December, 2020

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Trump’s Sojourn In Saudi Arabia

By Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

The richest and the most enigmatic U.S. President, Donald Trump, has triumphantly concluded his visit to an equally rich and the most conservative Arab kingdom, Saudi Arabia. It is little over seventy-two years since President Roosevelt met King Abdul Aziz of the desert kingdom on board the ship USS Quincy on 14 February 1945 on the former’s return from the Yalta conference. Since then oil and armaments, the life blood of modern geopolitics, has made the U.S – Saudi connection rock solid.

From the point of view of the super power Saudi oil has lost its strategic importance because of conservation measures, efficiency of usage and availability of alternative sources of supply. The world has learned to cope with future oil shortages. Yet, the need to sell weapons to keep turning the wheels of U.S military-industrial complex has not saturated. Trump’s successful arms deal with the Saudi regime worth $110 billion may be his crowning achievement so far. Do the Saudis actually need these weapons is a question neither party would wish to entertain. But was that all the purpose of the visit? What did the President offer in return to this lucrative deal?

It is worth recalling that in 2008, King Abdallah wanted the U.S. to “cut off the head of the snake”, by which he meant Iran. The Obama administration was wise enough to realise the strategic value of a friendly Iran and took the opposite route of doing a deal with that country that disappointed not only the Saudis but also the Israelis. With Trump in office now the Saudis have found a friend who could fulfil their wish. Yet, it may not that be easy.

On the question of “draining the swamp of extremism” the unpredictable Saudi foreign minister Abdel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir and the equally unpredictable President Trump are on the same side. However, one is not sure whether they agree on the definition of extremism and the identification of extremists.

Saudi Arabian foreign minister’s misadventure in Yemen with military assistance from the U.S. has so far ended in unmitigated disaster and has caused an unimaginable humanitarian crisis. The Yemeni war is still continuing without an end in sight. His second misadventure, once again with U.S agreement, was in Syria aiming to topple Assad’s Alawite regime, which only ended in dragging Russia into the battle field to make matters worse. The West’s historic effort to keep Russian warships out of the Mediterranean waters has at last come to naught.

In both these disasters the apparent victor was Shiite Iran and it was in targeting Iran that Trump and Saudi Arabia are in collusion. However, tackling Iran will be more problematic than it looks. It may become the third Saudi-U.S. misadventure.

Iran will not be a walk over to the U.S-Saudi forces like Saddam Hussain’s Iraq or Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. Besides, there is another element that makes Iran problematic and that is the role of ISIS. Trump wants to destroy ISIS but ISIS wants to kill the Shiites and topple the Iran-backed Iraqi government as well as Assad’s regime in Syria, both to the delight of Sunni Saudis. In fact, ISIS is also playing a useful role to another U.S ally Turkey by targeting and killing the Kurdish army. Above all Israel would also prefer ISIS to survive because the latter is also the enemy of Hezbollah. As the saying goes, one’s enemy’s enemy is one’s friend. All this makes ISIS an important asset in the fight against Iran at least to the Saudis.

It is astonishing to realise how on earth does ISIS keep fighting over the last four years and remaining resilient against the combined might of the U.S – Turkey – Russia- Syria weaponry. Who is supplying them with weapons? What is the role of the Gulf regimes, another ally of U.S., in this power-play? The picture is too messy and the questions are rather irksome.

Again, how can Trump and his Saudi partners talk of Islamic extremism without even mentioning the Wahhabi-Salafist ideology of Saudi Arabia? Isn’t that ideology that produced Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Jamaa’ Islamiyya, the Taliban and even the ISIS in the first place? It was the U.S. that gave a free licence to this ideology to spread even within its own borders simply to counter the spread of Khomeinism. Today the Wahhabi-Salafist ideology has gained global currency through the social media. May be President Trump and his expert advisors do not want to know about this growing ideological phenomenon whose latest demonstration is the Manchester Massacre.

Another issue which is more to the heart of Trump and to which he would have expected Saudi compliance is his commitment to shift U.S’ embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Such a relocation will obviously provoke the anger of Muslims word wide and Palestinians in particular. However, if Trump could achieve the tacit agreement of the kingdom, which holds the key to the two holiest of mosques in Mecca and Medina to which millions of Muslims go on pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of ritualistic Islam, he would be able to manage Muslim anger and happily convey the agreement to the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. It is an open secret, at least among scholars and experts on the Middle East that Saudi Arabia has given up the fight for Palestine long time ago and so are some other Arab countries including King Abdallah’s Jordan and President Sisi’s Egypt. Was the relocation issue discussed at the meeting? Devil is always in the detail and let us hope the real facts and not the ‘alternative facts’ about the U.S-Saudi deal leak out soon.

*Dr. Ameer Ali, School of Business and Governance, Murdoch University

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Latest comments

  • 4
    3

    An excellent peice of writing on US and Saudi diplomatic relations…you do not need to be an expert to know that US has been using Saudi and Gulf puppet countries like curry leaf for many decades..since British helped for the creation of Saudi Kingdom Saudi become as slaves to western world …what is striking most is that Saudi does not have sharp diplomatic experts or academic to read all these manipulation in poliitcs…Saudis are most inneptitute politicians of Muslim world …they are childish in all politics..that is what Wahabis have done to Muslim world …they have sold out Muslim world due to their ignorance of politics ..today main cause of all Muslim extremism is wahabism..all know this ..? It is said US and Isreal created this ISIS monsters to keep its weapons factories go on and sell weapon…to destory ME …after one more decade some of ME counties would be wiped out …Isreal will expand its land grabe.
    So. What is lacking is Muslim world do not have scholars to know this all..
    Iran is clever to know all this …they have manpower, technology and knowledge to counter Saudi ..as long as there is NO US support Iran can wipe out Saudi within sort time scale ..
    Why not its has 70 millions shia motivated population Saudi has got 30 mullions divided desert Arabs who have got nothing but camels and oil money ..once oil is gone …Saudi glamour will be gone..Saudi buy all arms to counter Iran …but it has been doing a lot in the region ..shia ideology is spreading fast in the world. Syria, Lebanon, Oman, Yemen and some Gulf countries are dominated with them ?.
    What Saudi done to international Muslim community…it has devided Muslims. Marginalised all moderate Muslim over wahabism …so who will.support saudi

    • 7
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      Lankan No 03,
      “what is striking most is that Saudi does not have sharp diplomatic experts or academic to read all these manipulation in poliitcs”. That’s what you know about Saudi Arabia.

      An example, Omar Alghabra, adviser to the Canadian prime minister is a Saudi. From the executive chefs of king’s palaces to any strategic key areas, Saudi Arabia doesn’t settle for anything less than some of the world’s top talents and well known figures from US or West (I have heard that former Indian PM Manmohan Singh was once financial adviser to king Fahad) , despite the fact that Saudi itself is having many of its citizens highly qualified having studied in US / UK universities. Otherwise, how can they survive this long with all these lobbying against?

      • 3
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        Again you failed to understand the point, Saudi can wield power until they have Petrol money. They buy expertise but they don t own the expertise. Saudi Arabia has few patents related to Peteoleum sector thanks to the contribution from the foreign academics and perhaps most of the degrees of Saudis from ghost writers.

        • 3
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          Razick, my answer was not about if Saudi has its own expertise or not. It is about if they have sharp diplomatic experts or academic to read political manipulations going on. Of course, money can buy brains too. Just corrected someone’s misconception about Saudi.

  • 2
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    Lankan

    Where is Allah in this equation who is the final arbitrator between Sunni vs. Shia as well as Islamic world vs. the rest?

    Soma

    • 3
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      सोमस नमस्ते जी (somass Namaste Ji) —————————————————————————–“in this equation who is the final arbitrator between Sunni vs. Shia ” ———————————-Your quest for answers will take you more time than you think. First travel to Pakistan where you make relevant queries. If you are lucky you will be plastered on the wall.

    • 0
      0

      Soma:

      “who is the final arbitrator between Sunni vs. Shia as well as Islamic world vs. the rest? “

      The Sunnis can’t get along with anyone. They don’t like Shias, Jews (Israel), and if it’s a Sunni Arab, they look down on non-Arabs. They hated the Kurds until ISIS forced them (Sunnis) to move into Kurdish areas for protection. They go to the West and demand Sharia. There used to be many Jews in Iraq, Egypt, Libya, etc. As soon as these countries became independent, they chased the Jews out and stole their properties. They are very jealous of Jews, particularly the success of Israel. That is why they attribute unrest in the Middle East to “Zionism.” What is interesting: they are so angry with Iran over Syria that they (Sunnis) are forming a secret alliance with Israel. Trump knows this. That is why Trump gave the Saudis new weapons to distribute to terrorists in Syria.

  • 3
    3

    Why don’t you think it in your religion that is how Allah want it. So, accept it. Once they sell some billions of worth arms go and kill somemore muslims in africa.

    You people have big mouths only when a monk talk against building mosques every where in our small island country. You people slaughterd milions in order to convert the world.

  • 2
    2

    Dr. Ameer Ali:

    Masked militants riding in three SUVs opened fire Friday on a bus packed with Coptic Christians, including children, south of the Egyptian capital, killing at least 28 people and wounding 22, the Interior Ministry said.

    The newst news, Egyptian muslims had killed 26 christians by firing at the bus. That is how Allah works. Kill infidels in order to make the whole world muslims. So, if muslims get it back from another creator what would be wrong ?

    You people are getting back what you do.

    • 3
      1

      Dim Witty,

      “Kill infidels in order to make the whole world muslims”.. Has “that” been the reason behind your mumble? Funny you, that doesn’t happen these days man, enjoy rest of your life to the fullest :-)

  • 3
    0

    Saudi Arabia has always been a puppet state of Israel and the west. The arms deal is to encourage Saudi Arabia to go to war with Iran. And yes like another commenter mentioned, the goal is the creation of ‘Greater Israel’
    But this plan is in jeopardy as Russia intervened in Syria

    • 4
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      Arms alone can’t fight. Not to worry Saudis don’t have the manpower. All those arms they purchase and military training investment are for few hours survival against enemy until US forces reaches.

  • 0
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    John,—————————————————————————————————–
    “Saudi Arabia has always been a puppet state of Israel and the west. The arms deal is to encourage Saudi Arabia to go to war with Iran. “————————————————

    Saudi Arabians are the stupidest people in the whole world including their graduates. They have no critical thinking skills. So the Devil, Satan, Iblis recruits them., and the Wahhabies, Salafies and their clones creates havoc. Noe the minor Satans. Saudi Arabia and Israel are teaming up with the Greater Satan. Greater Satan can now sell weapons for the minor Satan Saudis to go and kill more. ————————This is the New Great Game of the 21st Century.—————————————The Stupidity and Lack of Critical Thinking Skills of Wahhabi Saudi Arabians—————————————————————————————————————–Quick Post: L&V’s National IQs predict GMAT scores across 173 nations———————The GMAT is a graduate entrance test used by more than 5,900 business programs offered by more than 2,100 universities worldwide. While the test is given in English, it is designed to be as minimally English dependent as necessary to predict successful completion of Business programs taught in English. Further, the test is carefully scrutinized for item bias.—————————————————–
    http://humanvarieties.org/2014/02/02/quick-post-lvs-national-iqs-predicts-gmat-scores-across-173-nations/ —————————————————————–

    ——————————————————————————————————
    Regression Plot: The regression plot for GMAT scores and L&V’s (2012) Estimated National IQs is shown below. —–Saudi Arabia Lowest with Average GMAT 320 and Iran and Turkey around 520 to 540. Only Wahhabism and Salafism makes you stupid.————————————————————

    https://humanvarietiesdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/gmatregressionplot.png

  • 2
    0

    Mr Isharath. First you read about Saudi…it’s origin and it’s history and it’s contribution to Muslim world.
    Its 66% of Drs are from Egypt
    It’s more than 60 of univeristy acsmeic are from outside..
    Do you need more than this ?
    Read and come with solid statistics to prove your case ..
    Oil is a God given gifts but they do Brain’ power to use it ..
    Oil base economy bound perish soon..
    Lucky they have holicities so to make some incomes …but reality was that indian Muslim Indonesian Muslim, Egyptian Muslims were financially support people in Saudi to organise Hajj …money was collected and send to Saudi those days. Saudi are good forgetring past hisotry…Today it’s spend oil money on weapons that hl they will never use …
    If you want to write you could write volumes on this

    • 2
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      Lankan No 03,

      Please read your own comment, and then mine once again. Did I answer your misconception there to the point? You said “Saudi does not have sharp diplomatic experts”, and that doesn’t say Saudi nationals or expatriates – Fact is Saudi employs experts for that. If you feel my reply was somewhat helpful, appreciate it, if not ignore it like a gentleman, let’s stop making trail of comments for it :-)

  • 4
    2

    Saudi Arabia has the right to equip itself as Iran is exporting terrorism to the regional areas such as Yemen and Syria therefore the need arises to counter these state sponsored terrorism. Shias talk very sweet in the tongue but poison in the heart every Muslims have come to realize this hypocrisy of Iran with its Mullas and khomeini in Iran the people are very scared of these Mullas with black Tyres on their head. I was in Iran and the people there are sick of these Mullahs as thousand of Iranians are executed and the regime has created a reign of terror. Ameer Ali is a stooge and a paid servent of Iran. But the world knows what Iran is doing in the world around including SL. SL has to be extremely cautious of dealing with Iran.

  • 0
    0

    A well reasoned analysis. Bensen Berner.

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