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Trump in Riyadh and some lessons from Obama

The visit of US president Donald Trump to Riyadh, which is his first international foray, has caused great concerns for Iran and all those who are on its side. In this context, nine senior officials from the administration of former President Obama participated in writing an article that was published on Politico’s website. In the article that was directed to President Trump before his visit to Riyadh, the nine officials warned him that his visit to Saudi Arabia and its consequences would harm the nuclear deal JCPOA and about the US involvement in Yemen, to satisfy the Saudis and Emiratis.

We are all aware that this visit is important, as it sends political messages to a number of parties in the region and outside it. President Trump has also taken many steps that confirmed his seriousness and the political course he has set for the United States.  

Trump differs from his predecessor, President Obama. His latest activity was the American aerial bombing of Syrian forces and Iranian militias in the region near Jordan, thus marking the limits on the borders and explicitly threatening the Syrian regime and Iran not to intrude on Jordan. Before that, he has bombed al-Shuayrat air base in an important message against the Syrian regime’s transgressions in using chemical weapons. The US side also corrected its policy over Yemen and started to support Saudi Arabia and the coalition that are fighting the militias there. The US carried out maritime inspections and resumed sending ammunitions. It also reorganized the military intelligence cooperation in Yemen, which is very important to the coalition.

The problem that the nine writers know is that Iran took the United States as a hostage in Obama’s second presidential term, when Washington was keen on not angering the regime in Tehran so that it signs the nuclear deal. The result was that Iran had spread militarily in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. The Obama administration has lavished Iran with gifts for the sake of this agreement, at the expense of the security of the countries in the region. It has engendered serious disturbance and horrible tragedy in the history of the region.

Abdulrahman al-Rashed



However, this does not mean that the Gulf Countries wanted to open a war front with Iran or wanted the Western nuclear deal with Iran to be canceled, for one main reason, which is that it is not in their interests and they have already officially announced their position.

The problem that the nine writers know is that Iran took the United States as a hostage in Obama’s second presidential term, when Washington was keen on not angering the regime in Tehran so that it signs the nuclear deal. The result was that Iran had spread militarily in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. The Obama administration has lavished Iran with gifts for the sake of this agreement, at the expense of the security of the countries in the region. It has engendered serious disturbance and horrible tragedy in the history of the region. 

Myth of the ‘moderate’ Rouhani 

The writers warned Trump about angering Iran, especially that his visit to Riyadh coincides with the presidential elections, and that could lead to the defeat of the “moderate” president Hassan Rouhani and the election of his extremist rival Ebrahim Raisi. Although these former US officials contradict themselves in their article by acknowledging that the elections may be rigged in favor of the extremist candidate, they are, at the same time, worried about the reaction of Iran after Trump’s visit to Riyadh. Iran is ruled by the supreme leader and the Revolutionary Guard and, therefore, it doesn’t matter who wins the presidency. Remember that all the Iranian military deployment you see and the unprecedented Iranian wars in the region occurred in the era of the “moderate” Rouhani and under the eyes of the previous US administration. So, where is the presidential moderation in Tehran and what is the value of the many compromises that Washington did at the time?

I believe that the current US administration should get Iran to face the new reality, and that it must stop spreading chaos and violence in the region and the world. It should inform Iran that this will not only be positively met by the United States and the West, but also by the countries of the region and Iran’s neighbors.

Without sending a clear message, Tehran will keep on spreading turmoil in the world, creating crises, supporting terrorist groups and attacking US allies. Iran has taken the region as a hostage and has blackmailed Washington for many years. As a result, it was rewarded and did not stop its activities, even after freeing the 100 billion dollars and Boeing planes, and lifting economic sanctions.

This article is also available in Arabic.
 _______________________
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed.

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Last Update: Saturday, 20 May 2017 KSA 13:40 - GMT 10:40
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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