Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 25 September 2020

Trump’s historic visit to Riyadh

The US president’s first foreign trip reveals the importance of this region to Washington
President Donald Trump greets Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi defense minister and deputy crown prince, in the state dining room of the White House. AP Photo/Evan Vucci
President Donald Trump greets Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi defense minister and deputy crown prince, in the state dining room of the White House. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Since his inauguration as president of the United States, Donald Trump has moved to reassure America’s Middle Eastern allies that his administration recognises their importance to the region and the world. Dispelling some of his campaign rhetoric, Mr Trump has welcomed various leaders to the White House from Jordan’s king Abdullah to Saudi Arabia’s deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. Prince Mohammed and Mr Trump had “reaffirmed their support for a strong, broad and enduring strategic partnership”.

In a sign of Mr Trump’s commitment to the region, the White House announced last week that the president’s first foreign trip will be to Saudi Arabia. The visit will send a “clear and powerful message that the US harbours no ill will” towards the Arab world, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Adel Al Jubeir said.

Under former president Barack Obama, the relationship between the Arab world and the US was severely strained. This was mainly due to Mr Obama’s warming to Iran and the lifting of sanctions. Tehran used Mr Obama’s overtures to expand its chaotic intentions from Yemen to Syria. This negative influence continues to fuel regional instability and cause uncertainty among the broader international community.

With Mr Obama out of office, Mr Trump is repairing these critical alliances and redoubling America’s commitment to returning the region to stability. While Mr Trump will meet various leaders during his foreign visit, his mere presence in this part of the world underlines the shifting sands in Washington. We have long said that the region looks very different when you view it from here. Iran’s negative influence is much more pronounced and much more troubling when you see it through our eyes. That Mr Trump has decided to come to the Middle East and see things the way we do is proof that a shift is under way in Washington.

Updated: May 6, 2017 04:00 AM

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