Will Trump’s visit change the region?

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Published: Updated:

Recent developments indicate the dawn of a new phase in the region. The indications are many including US President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, his important speech before the Islamic summit and announcement of a series of measures to confront Iran.

Trump equated Hezbollah with al-Qaeda and talked about militarily cooperating with the coalition in Yemen to confront the Houthi militias and active role of American military in Syria.

During his meeting with the King of Bahrain in Saudi Arabia, Trump conveyed that the US altered its policy and stopped pressuring the Bahraini government regarding the local opposition. Iran is what is common among these causes. All these are important shifts and we will see their impact in the coming months.

So what has really happened? Saudi diplomacy has become active in Washington and what we see today is a result of this activity.

The Saudi-US agreements

Saudi Arabia and the US agreed to cooperate in confronting two threats: global terrorism and Iranian expansion in the region’s countries. The Saudi king’s speech at the Arab Islamic American Summit focused on these two points. The US has acted quickly and this exceeded expectations as to when it will adopt stances and take action.

These quick measures are a result of Trump’s appointment of prominent political and military officials who are experts in the region as they understand it well since they’ve worked in it. This explains America’s quick shift regarding Iran and its condemnation of it for being responsible for chaos in Syria and Yemen.

Instability in the Middle East threatens the interests of the world and worsens chaos. The US wants Iran to realize that the world no longer accepts this and will no longer keep silent

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

While Trump was in Riyadh, Tehran announced that Hassan Rouhani won a second presidential term, as if it’s a reconciliation message from the regime. The future will show whether the Iranian government will adopt positive and tangible measures or whether these are all misleading slogans like it has done in the past.

Iran is in real trouble due to the quick action against it in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon. If it tries to escalate its activity, sanctions will be imposed on it. An example to Iran’s trouble is that it bought 80 American Boeing for $16 billion and it will be unable to continue using them if it’s prohibited from maintaining them and from attaining spare parts.

Tehran’s project

Rouhani may be a good figure among the Iranian regime officials but the Revolutionary Guards are evil. They’re accomplices in killing around 500,000 Syrians and in assassinating public figures in Lebanon. They’re responsible for the current marginalization of the central authority in Iraq as they support the latter’s rival militias. They supported, trained and armed the Houthi movement which staged a coup against the Yemeni government. All this is part of Tehran’s project to besiege Saudi Arabia and the Gulf and dominate the region.

Instability in the Middle East threatens the interests of the world and worsens chaos. We’ve seen this in the past six years. The US wants Iran to realize that the world no longer accepts this chaos and will no longer keep silent over threatening its interests. Are we happy that President Trump altered his country’s policy and began to support the camp of moderate Arab and Islamic countries?

It’s certainly an important and decisive development. We must not forget that for 30 years, we confronted Iran’s extremist regime, the spearhead of terrorism as described by King Salman bin Abdulaziz during his speech at the Arab Islamic American Summit. We’ve fought this regime with and without the US, especially during the past few years which were very dangerous. We confronted Iran in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen without the US. And now, with Washington we will pressure the Ayatollah regime in Tehran in hopes it will think well and realize that resuming its adventures and sowing this chaos will cost it a lot.

President Rouhani is before a new situation which he must think very well about and he must make use of it in order to launch a reconciliatory project that halts his country’s interferences. It’s time that he ends the 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini’s project that aims to export the Iranian revolution to the region’s countries. It’s time to end this vow and move towards a new regional phase.

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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