Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Opinion: Telephone Diplomacy Between King Salman and Trump | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Some inciting voices have condemned the fact that Saudi Arabia was not included in the countries on Trump’s travel ban list. The American President Donald Trump did not categorise Saudis as terrorists and did not ban them from entering the country. In addition to this, the President phoned the Saudi monarch King Salman bin Abdulaziz and consulted with him on matters in the region.

What was made public about the conversation can be described as an important shift in relations between the two countries. According to statements that both sides made, the King and the President talked about establishing safe zones for the Syrians, cooperating with regards to combating terrorism in the region and counteracting Iran’s foreign activities. They also spoke about the Muslim Brotherhood being a party that is responsible for terrorism for the first time and bilateral issues such as economic cooperation.

What confirms Washington’s new policy in the region in general is that President Trump made a similar phone call to the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. These are not courtesy calls and neither are they calls to congratulate the President. Rather, they are political discussions about what should be done in the region. US-Gulf relations need to be repaired after the coldness that dominated the former President Barack Obama’s administration. The features of these relations are the unification of visions with regards to the region’s issues in the hope of stopping the chaos that has spread since 2011 and solidarity in fighting terrorist organisations that are spreading like cancer in the region.

Trump’s administration considered Iran as part of the problem whilst the previous US administration insisted that Iran was part of the solution. All of these are important developments that aim to end the chaos in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and unite forces in order to pursue and combat terrorist groups.

Discussing the Muslim Brotherhood in a telephone conversation with President Trump is no less important than considering Iran as the source of chaos. The organisation played a negative role during the unrest of the Arab Spring and is responsible for corrupting the Syrian revolution because it insisted on transforming it from a civil one to a religious one. It also tried to exploit its electoral victory in Egypt in order to dominate power and violate institutions. Likewise, Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda party tried to do the same but foreign threats made it retreat and commit to the rules of democracy. The chaos in Libya is mostly caused by religious groups that are armed, extremist and affiliated to Al-Qaeda like the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and Ansar Al-Sharia that do not recognise the state. Chaos caused by organisations that have a lot in common including extremist ideology and foreign points of reference has ripped the region apart.

Meanwhile, the previous American administration adopted a policy in Washington that does not hear, see or do anything. It considered the chaos as a local struggle, viewed it as a phase of historic transition and was willing to accept the results of this transition. The reality on the ground warns of danger that threatens the world, and planting terrorist groups in countries that have collapsed has become easy with the expansion of unrest. Today, there is international consensus that this approach was incorrect and there is a collective desire to cooperate to put an end to the chaos, eliminate terrorism and review concepts, methods and alliances.

Trump’s government said that it is ready and in a hurry to engage in a project to stop the chaos and defeat terrorism. Trump, who has only been president for ten days, is announcing his intention to establish a safe zone for Syrian refugees after former President Obama refused to set up these zones for Syrians who are displaced. There are more than 12 million displaced Syrians in Syria and outside the country.

Finally, the stances of others towards Trump, his administration and his foreign and domestic policies should not affect us, and we should not make prejudgements. What is more important is that we form our vision based on the issues and solutions that Trump’s administration proposes for our region and its readiness to cooperate positively.