How Mohammed bin Salman visit to US helped reset ties

Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud meets President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, March 14, 2017. (AP)

Donald Trump is set to head to Saudi Arabia on May 23, making the kingdom his first foreign trip as the 45th US president.

But before his trip, Trump met with Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman in March. Their meeting was described as a reset in the US-Saudi relationship.

Experts said then that the recent meeting between Trump and Saudi Arabia’s deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman was dubbed a turning point in relations which had been frosty under Barack Obama.

During their meeting, Bernard Haykel, an expert on Middle East affairs, saidmuch progress can be made on containing Iran, defeating ISIS and al-Qaeda and helping resolve the Israeli-Palestine conflict.

Bernard Haykel is professor of Near Eastern Studies and the Director of the Institute for Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia at Princeton University.

In his piece Haykel wrote that President Obama rejected Saudi warnings and turned a blind eye toward Iran’s interventionist policies in the Middle East.

After his meeting with Saudi Prince, Trump looked in line with Saudi hope in changing the path with regards to the US foreign policies.

The United States has carried out more air strikes this year in Yemen than in all of 2016, in a clear sign of growing US concern and focus on AQAP and deepening involvement in Yemen.

US officials acknowledge there is a lot they don’t know. Even the presumption about AQAP’s size, seen in the low thousands, is a very low-confidence estimate.

Beyond things like increasing intelligence sharing, US officials are moving closer to approving a sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia blocked under Obama.

Also, United States President Donald Trump has spoken to Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud by phone regarding the Washington’s latest direct military action in Syria.

The two leaders have said they remain committed to maintaining close contact on a range of regional and bilateral issues, according to a White House statement.

Also on the economic side, Saudi Aramco now officially owns the largest oil refinery in America and the 600,000 barrels processed per day in Texas, a news report has revealed.

According to the report, the deal comes less than two months after President Trump met with Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the White House.

“This meeting is considered a historical turning point in relations between both countries and which had passed through a period of divergence of views on many issues,” a senior adviser to Prince Mohammed said in a statement.

“The meeting restored issues to their right path and form a big change in relations between both countries in political, military, security and economic issues.”

 

Obama rejected Saudi warnings and turned a blind eye toward Iran’s interventionist policies in the Middle East.

Expert on Middle East affairs, Bernard Haykel

On Iranian meddling in Gulf countries he said this has fueled Yemen’s civil war and created vacuums that al-Qaeda and ISIS have been able to fill.

Haykel said “Nonetheless, a strong US-Saudi statement that Iran’s intervention in Yemen will no longer be tolerated is much needed.

The future of Yemen and security in the Middle East are at stake,” he said. According to him, war against extremism is another area of agreement between the Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and the Trump administration.

Anti-terrorism cooperation

He said he expected them to announce increased anti-terrorism cooperation around the world.

“More complicated will be aligning on ways to end the Israeli-Palestine conflict. Saudi leaders want Israel to endorse the Palestinian goal of statehood or to at least move in that direction.

In return, Riyadh would publicly accept Israel as a sovereign nation as it promised to do in King Abdullah’s 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.

Saudi Arabia would also work to persuade the Palestinians to accept the deal.

But the Saudis won’t sell the Palestinians short to make such a compromise,” Haykel wrote in the piece.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:50 - GMT 06:50
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