Muslim World League Chief: Extremists Exploit Veil Ban

Muslim World League Secretary General Mohammed al-Issa.

London- Muslim World League Secretary General Mohammed al-Issa called on Muslim minorities living in non-Muslim countries to abide by the rules and laws of their host countries and to pursue their religious rights through legal channels. Issa has been keen on countering extremist ideology, believing that there must be an adverse party to confront the extremist ideology and disclose its attempts to defame Islam.

Issa added that the battle against extremism cannot be fought exclusively through military action, but rather include fighting extremist ideologies that spread their deviant thought.

Commenting on the objections raised in Brussels over his statement on the veil, he said the statement was in response to questions posed by the Muslim community and letters conveying rashness and willingness to face authorities with furor. “Every Muslim who enters a country pledges before to respect its constitution and culture or he/she won’t be allowed to enter. There is still hope, although the veil ban has become effective in some countries and is not a choice anymore. You either abide by the law or you get penalized and deported,” he added.

“Parliaments change and so do governments and legislation. The Muslim community should continue to ask for support. We, in the Muslim World League, back the Muslim community and stand against any illegal or unpeaceful attitude,” Issa continued.

Asked about Muslim figures in European countries who are trying to breach the law and incite against it, Issa said that it is a duty to face these figures who want to impose their religious singularity by force and are harming Islam in the first place.

Commenting on his several tours and activities in Islamic and non-Islamic countries in the past four months, Issa said that the Muslim World League is interested in reminding Islamic communities that their religion is a religion of forgiveness, tolerance, and coexistence.

“Some of these communities are going through tough conditions, including the lack of religious awareness,” he added. Issa stressed that the league doesn’t tackle people but topics. “We don’t name anyone but we might name ISIS or al-Qaeda,” he said.

Answering a question on the messages sent by extremists on social media, Issa said that more than 800 messages were sent by extremists around the world – some of them target specific countries, others are directed against Muslims in general or a specific category of Muslims and even non-Muslims.

Afghanistan President: We Want Peace, not War with Pakistan

Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani addresses the Council on Foreign Relations in New York

Riyadh – Five months have gone and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani still awaits promises of Pakistan to end destruction in his country.

People and government of Afghanistan still accuse Pakistan of terrorism and supporting Taliban’s terrorist members.

President Ghani came to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to participate in the Arab-Islamic-US summit and ask Arab and Islamic states to intervene and put an end to bloodshed, especially that several ISIS terrorists and al-Qaeda commanders were captured on Afghani-Pakistani border. He added that many terrorists reside in Pakistan and are working on collecting funds.

During his interview with Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, Ghani rarely smiled until he mentioned that over million Afghani citizens began returning to their country from Pakistan and Iran. He added that people of Afghanistan began to expel terrorists of al-Qaeda and ISIS outside districts.

When asked about the Arab-Islamic-US summit, the Afghan President described it as a transitional point against extremism.

“This summit is the first major step towards regaining the glory of Islam as an international civilization based on science, peace, and tolerance. We are the lawful leaders of the Islamic world and we have the conviction and courage to express the aspirations and values of our people,” said Ghani.

He added that after the summit, the West realized that Custodian of Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Arab and Islamic leaders defend the moderate Islam against extremism.

Ghani stressed that the minority of extremists can’t represent the billion and a half Muslims, adding that the leaders along with US President Donald Trump are adamant to devote their sources and energy to eradicate the dangers and ensure that all Muslims are together in the face of political extremism and terrorism.

The President also explained that the attendees at the summit agreed to the funding and support of extremism in the Islamic world.

King Salman and President Trump also inaugurated Eatedal center, international cooperation center to combat extremism.

The president said that it is crucial to determine a unified definition of terrorism and standards that assign which countries support terrorism. He further stressed the importance of creating a mechanism and team work to track and halt terrorism funding.

Both King Salman and President Trump spoke of the role of Iran in supporting terrorism during the summit, Ghani stated that it is not only limited to Iran. Afghanistan had repeatedly complained that Pakistan supports and funds terrorism.

He explained that the main issue here is that a war has already begun and it is not media war, adding that Pakistan is unaware of that issue.

“We want peace between the two countries, not war,” insisted the president.

When asked if Pakistan indeed supports terrorist groups, Ghani asked about the location where former leader of al-Qaeda Osama bin Laden died. He also mentioned the terrorist attack in Mazar-i-Sharif Mosque attacking 140 Afghani soldiers. He stated that the soldiers were praying and unarmed and Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

“Taliban is settled in Pakistan and are gathering money,” added the president.

He said that being on the front lines with Pakistan, Afghanistan made many sacrifices as well as the NATO. He expressed his hope that Arab-Islamic-US Summit would result in a strong support for Afghanistan to ensure its stability.

Ghani stressed that his country is prepared to terminate terrorist organizations such as ISIS and Qaeda and affiliated groups.

When asked if Taliban hides behind religion, Ghani believes that sadly that is the situation, but Custodian of Two Holy Mosques stated that we should differentiate between Islam and that who use the religion for other purposes.

He added that Taliban’s presence in the area makes it easier for the organization to execute terrorist attacks just like Qaeda and ISIS.

What is important is that Pakistan and Taliban realize that Arab and Islamic countries and the US have reached a point where they distinguish a Muslim from a terrorist.

Regarding the terrorist attack that killed the ambassador of UAE and others in Kandahar, President Ghani hoped Pakistan would provide names of persons involved in that operation.

Concerning the national reconciliation between the government and Taliban, the president admitted that it succeeded in three points: Gulbuddin Hekmatyar returned and accepted the Afghani laws, over a million Afghani citizens returned to their country from Pakistan and Iran, and people of Afghanistan began fighting terrorist organizations in districts.

President Ghani addressed Taliban saying if they choose to make peace, they will achieve what they want through politics and law. He hoped Taliban would distance itself from terrorists.

“We will prevail because we speak of cooperation, civilization, dialogue and hope in face of fear, destruction, and hatred,” explained the president adding that joint understanding and coherent policies are required to reach the goal.

He reiterated that the Afghani constitution grants every citizen their rights and, as a president of the republic, his duty is to prevent bloodshed.

Ghani added that during his stay in Riyadh, he met with US officials and discussed the strategic relations between the two countries. He also met on Wednesday with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman.

The president welcomed Saudi Arabia’s role in the national reconciliation between the government and Taliban.

GM Expects Promising Future for Electric Cars in Middle East

London- Anthony Riemann, director of Corporate Strategy & Planning in General Motors Group, expected the car industry to see drastic changes within the coming decade.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Riemann said electric cars will soon hit the region. He stated that General Motors is ready to cooperate with the local authorities in equipping the services’ networks needed for the future electric cars.

Riemann considered that the “Bolt”, the newest electric car from General Motors, has changed the rules of the game in the automotive industry, after it crossed a distance of 380 km before needing a battery recharge.

On the other hand, Riemann said the future will be totally different from what we see on the roads today. In the future cities, the user will prefer to share the car and not to own it. The company made its efforts in this project.

Here is the text of the interview:

*How do you see the future of electric cars in the region?

– We see a promising future for electric cars in the Middle East. We will be delighted to cooperate with the concerned authorities to make sure that the needed restrictions and infrastructure are available to operate an electric car and support the consumer.

* How do you see the GCC cities’ transportation in the future?

– In some of the GCC areas, we see some urban citizens who really care about modern technologies. Those people are considered the core of the future transportation means.

* What are the trends adopted by General Motors in choosing the future engines among electric, hybrid, or fuel?

– We have an inclusive program that covers different types of alternative engines like the hybrid and electric systems. We had unveiled a trial car that works with hydrogen; we are actually selling hybrid cars, and we recently unveiled the “Bolt Chevrolet”, an electric car that received many awards due to the long service it provides before it needs a battery recharge. In the past six years, we invested over two billion dollars on research of electric engines.

* What are GM’s innovations in the field of future cars?

– Over a decade, the concept of car ownership didn’t change, but communities changed and people now make an integral part of the economy. General Motors looks at the future of transportation and admits the need for a change so it can be part of this development.

People do not care about possessing a car. Rather, they need the car to respond to their needs even for a short term. Therefore, we have adopted many techniques to launch the concept of “car-sharing” known as “Maven” in the United States. According to this concept, the user can book a car and pay for his booking through a smartphone app, drive the vehicle for the time he needs, and then return it. This concept responds to the needs of different categories and provides cars from all types and sizes. “Maven” achieved a great success in US cities, and GM has participated in it with 37 million hours of use till date. The company seeks to expand this concept in more areas and with different techniques.

* Do you think that driverless cars are a good idea for the near future, despite some incidents, including the last fatal accident in Florida?

– There are many levels of autonomous driving. A 100 percent driverless car is still far reach. However, driverless cars will hit the markets before the time we set. Currently, the company is testing a fleet of the “Chevrolet Bolt” driverless electric car in the United States. Our top priority is safety, therefore, we are studying all the aspects of this trial before promoting this car in the market. At the same time, we will continue in developing the driver-support techniques we apply in many of our cars and their communication techniques till we reach the final phase of autonomous driving.

* The unification of standards concerning charging, systems of autonomous driving, and communication among cars are aspects that need agreement among different companies. Does General Motors make any effort to support such cooperation with other companies?

– The industry is currently witnessing a drastic change. We have agreed with other companies on the joint goals concerning the techniques that suit the region. We are proud to cooperate with the local authorities on the future of transportation, and we are fully ready to use the knowledge we acquired over the years to help in setting a regulative frame that suits consumer interests.

Starz Play Arabia CEO: Pay Television Occupying 10% Percent of Regional Broadcast Market

Starz

Dubai – CEO of Starz Play Arabia, Maaz Sheikh, hailed the infrastructure in the Arab Gulf region that allows pay television providers to offer different content at a time when large segments of the youth help draw high-quality programs.

He revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat: “Pay television providers managed to occupy 10 percent of the broadcast market compared to non-pay television.”

The Dubai-based Starz Play Arabia covers 19 Arab countries and seeks to provide English, Arabic and French content at competitive prices that can cater to all classes of society. The provider also offers the most famous television programs and movies, which air at the same time as the United States, Sheikh said.

Asked what makes the Arab world such an attraction for pay television, he replied: “Non-pay television dominates the area, while pay television has managed to garner 10 percent of the market. Viewers are looking for quality in exchange for money.”

“New and exclusive movies and television shows are not available on non-pay television, while the region’s youth realizes the value of the internet and prefers to pay for on-demand service,” Sheikh explained.

He stressed that the Gulf region has the necessary internet infrastructure to ensure the success of pay television.

Starz Play Arabia currently has 80 employees, half of whom are Arab. The main challenge the company is facing is how to provide the best payment method for the service, he revealed.

On the factors that help execute the company’s strategy, he said: “The company’s website is user-friendly and is available in Arabic. Arabic subtitles are also available for all the content.”

Viewers in the Arab Maghreb can also enjoy programs that have been dubbed into French.

Furthermore, the Starz Arabia CEO added that service provides “unprecedented” Arabic content from across the Arab world, making it one of the best providers in the region.

Several shows are being aired on the internet for the first time and viewers will also be able to catch up any episodes of their favorite Ramadan show through Starz Play Arabia, Sheikh revealed.

The company also recently signed a partnership with NBC Universal, which owns the Fast and the Furious movie series.

Education is Key to Combat Terrorism, Says AUC’s President

Cairo

Riyadh – President of the American University of Cairo said that higher education, especially in universities should play a major role in rationalizing youths and guiding them in the right direction through communication, cooperation, and problem solving. He considered that terrorist exploits religion to achieve political goals.

AUC’s President Francis Ricciardone told Asharq Al-Awsat that among higher education institutions, universities should make doubled efforts to combat terrorism. He added: “The US education method or the so-called liberal education is based on research, analysis, and criticism. This method focuses on four basics: the critical thinking to learn how to ask questions and to seek problems we want to solve, creativity and mind openness in different ways and how to solve problems like art and history; communication by teaching the English language to connect with the world; and cooperation among different groups and teams, which leads to gradual advancement.”

Ricciardone who served as ambassador to the United States in Egypt, Iraq, Turkey, and Afghanistan, noted that education is makes the new generation and ends terrorism.

“Education, art, renovation, openness, religion, sciences, business management, engineering, and sociology, they all make civilization, while terrorism is made of fear, ignorance and hatred. It is a cancer that attacks a sound body; it is oppression and savagery, and education is the cure and the prevention from this cancer,” he stated.

Ricciardone visited Saudi Arabia where he met many officials in the Ministry of Education and national universities and discussed means to strengthen ties and partnerships. He continued saying that we want to tighten the relations between American University and the kingdom, highlight its role worldwide and its keenness to attract students outside Egypt.

He stated: “in the past, the university used to host 20% of non-Egyptian students every year, however, this rate dropped to 5%. We aim to raise this number and attract more students from the Arab countries and the world, and we aim to see fruitful efforts soon.”

Responding to a question on the importance of higher education in fighting terrorism, Ricciardone answered: “during my diplomatic missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, and Turkey, the US embassy was a target for many terrorist attacks. I personally faced direct assaults. For me, terrorism is using violence to achieve political goals; it is a criminal act, but this is not the accurate answer, and we have to realize the main source of terrorism, which is composed of a bunch of complicated triggers.”

Commenting on the gap between the universities’ outputs and the labor market, which many Arab countries suffer from, Ricciardone said that this challenge is facing the higher education worldwide. He considered that entrepreneurship with all its dangers and the creation of new job opportunities is the perfect solution for this problem.

He added: “we have to respond to people’s needs. To solve problems of food, population growth, global warming, spread of diseases, pollution, conflicts, and lack of water in the Middle East. All these problems require studies and opportunities so the new generation can use modern technologies and exploit it in addressing these problems.”

Ghwell: Libya’s Interest Requires Concessions

Libya

Cairo – Libya’s best interest requires offering concessions, said National Salvation Government Prime Minister Khalifa Ghwell.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, he stated that his major focus is on establishing a coherent state but affirmed that this can’t be achieved through a national dialogue that is restricted to individuals agreeing over their personal ambitions.

Ghwell stressed that an effective and applicable solution will not come from outside Libya but it has to be through an internal Libyan dialogue sponsored by international organizations and not countries.

He added that there is no army in Libya at this moment but there are some attempts in this pursuit.

“The militias and armed groups are a problem all Libyan cities suffer from with no exceptions due to the political void and the absence of the central authority,” said Ghwell.

Speaking on his conditions to carry out a dialogue with Libya’s Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar, he said that there are no prior conditions to carry out a dialogue that maintains the state’s unity and sovereignty.

“The danger threatening Libya is bigger than political disputes… Libya is passing through its worst phase: its unity is threatened, its sovereignty is violated and its decision comes from abroad,” he continued.

PM added: “We welcome any dialogue that leads to a progression towards the comprehensive reconciliation and ends this division.”

Asked about his opinion on possible solutions for the problem of militias spread in Libyan regions, he warned that in case Libya does not reach a political solution then these militias will remain present but in case of an agreement then there will be a strong insistence to dissolve them.

Commenting on accusations against the government that it is a cover-up of extremist groups in Libya especially fighting groups, Ghwell attributed these accusations to the government’s patriotic stances.

“In west Libya, only we demanded that the intellect of various ideological groups stays away from the authority. We have clear statements. We want a political life that grants everyone the opportunity to be part of it but for the best interest of the country and not for the groups’ greedy interests,” he said.

Ghwell continued that the Muslim Brotherhood in the beginning had the purpose of achieving God’s quote that Muslims are brothers but it has crossed this line and become an institution of economic and political interests that contradict with this concept.

Geagea: Problems Ensue Wherever Iran Goes

Geagea

Beirut – Head of the Lebanese Forces Samir Geagea blamed Iran for several regional conflicts, saying that it acts against the legitimacy of those countries.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat on Friday: “Where ever Iran puts its finger, problems follow.”

In Yemen, he said, there was a slow political process, which the Houthis were a part of, and people seemed to have forgotten that President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi was elected with an overwhelming majority.

In Syria, had it not been for Iran’s backing of regime leader Bashar Assad, he would not have stayed in power. Iran helped him until the conflict turned into a civil war, added Geagea.

“In Lebanon, we witnessed a civil war and it ended. We agreed on the formation of the state through the Taef Accord. All armed groups were incorporated in the state, except Hezbollah because Iran agreed with the Syrian regime for it to stay,” he said.

On the overall Arab scene, the Lebanese official predicted a state of “complete war” with Iran, noting Saudi deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s recent comments on the matter.

Asked about whether Tehran will seek to bolster its regional presence in wake of the arrival of a new US administration, Geagea said: “We have seen some form of American action and Arab countries are making their moves based on this action in order to fortify their positions.”

“We have not yet seen the Iranian attack. I do not expect it to remain idle, but they cannot retaliate against the US in Iraq because they need them. Their retaliation may come in Syria because they are sitting comfortably in Lebanon.”

Turning to the Lebanese Forces’ ties with Hezbollah, Geagea noted that it has a “fundamental dispute” with the party.

“I have not seen whether they have been embroiled in any sort of corruption, but the problem is that they are prepared to cover up this corruption because ‘no voice can rise above that of the battle’,” he said.

“One of the central disputes is that our priority is Lebanon, not the voice of that battle. Their agenda is much larger than the protection of minorities. It has nothing to do with that, but they want to establish an actual Islamic republic on a global level. What we are witnessing is the first steps of this agenda.”

“Our priority is protecting the economy and preventing corruption. Hezbollah’s priority is the battle in Syria, Iraq and the region. They are at the heart of the regional axis and not a part of it,” Geagea stressed.

On Hezbollah’s role in Syria, the Lebanese leader said: “They not only committed a strategic error, but a historic one, which the Shi’ites will pay for for generations to come.”

“They have placed a major wager on Assad, but it is not viable. We were able to prevent the dangers of the Syrian crisis from coming to Lebanon, but they went to Syria.”

He said that Hezbollah’s intervention in Syria has direct and indirect repercussions on Lebanon, especially the national economy.

“Had it not meddled in Syria, we would have avoided all American sanctions and we would have avoided the Gulf boycott,” Geagea added, noting however that the situation in Lebanon will remain stable “because there are no intentions to target it for now.”

Turning to the internal Lebanese scene and assessing the first six months of President Michel Aoun’s term in office, Geagea remarked: “In general, I am not happy, but compared to the two years of vacuum we experienced, I can say it is better.”

He said efforts should be exerted to achieve more transparency in the state, combat corruption and reach an agreement on a new parliamentary electoral law.

“Then we can speak of good start to the president’s term and we will be able to give it a better assessment,” Geagea stressed.

On the electoral law and fears of parliament’s extension of its term for a third time, the Lebanese Forces chief said that the media is exaggerating the extent of the crisis, adding that officials are aware of how critical the situation is.

“An agreement will be reached over a new law before the real red line is reached,” he predicted, but he did not say which law will be adopted.

“Regardless of which law is approved, parliamentary elections will be held next fall unless something unexpected takes place,” he asserted.

Juergen Schmitz: Saudi Market Acquires 20% of Infinity Sales in Middle East

Infiniti

London – Juergen Schmitz, managing director of Infiniti Middle East stressed the importance of the Saudi market which acquires 20% of Infinity sales in the region. In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Schmitz said that the Saudi Vision 2030 embraces three Saudi factors: an active community, a thriving economy, and ambitious people. He noted that the announcement made by the Saudi government served in highlighting the importance of the economic diversification for citizens and companies working in the kingdom.

Schmitz asserted that Infinity is keen on providing the region with hybrid cars and high efficiency turbine engines.

He also admitted the difficult conditions that dominated the market in 2016, but said the company hit a 6.4% growth rate. It has also introduced four new cars and launched many services and maintenance centers across the Middle East.

*What is the expected growth rate by Infinity in the Middle East during 2017? And what are the new cars which will be introduced to the market this year?

-Right now, I cannot discuss any future-related details because we are working in a dynamic market…but what I can say is that as a trademark, we work hard to overtake the market’s rates, and this is what we are currently achieving.

We believe 2017 will bring some challenges driven by the general economies status, but we trust our outstanding products and our client’s base in this region – so we can carry on with our growth. Concerning the new products, some will be revealed soon, and the first model will be the 2017 Infiniti QX60.

*How important are the region’s markets for the company, and particularly the Saudi market?

– Middle East is an important market for us. On the global level, Infinity sold more than 230,000 cars, and achieved 7% growth compared to last year, which is an exceptional production rate for us. In the Middle East, the company sold 7,700 cars, and its share in the market of luxury cars surged to 6.5%, which is the highest rate in the world.

In Saudi Arabia, 1,500 new Infinity cars were delivered to their buyers, which represents over 20% of the total sales in the Middle East.

* Does Infinity plan to increase its investment in the Saudi market after announcing the Vision 2030?

– Our goal is to manufacture outstanding products for our Middle Eastern clients. Therefore, investments in Saudi Arabia will deal separately with every project and with the customer’s benefit. What I can say now is that we have many exciting statements that will by announced within this year.

*How does Infinity plan for the alternative energy technology field? Does the company plan for an electric car in the future?

– In the meantime, our company’s efforts focus on high-efficiency hybrid engines; electric cars are not among our priorities.

*How does your distribution network develop to convoy the increasing sales?

– In 2016, we revealed the models “QX50”, “QX60”, “Q30”, and “Q50”. With the expansion of sales, we had to focus on enlarging our distribution network too. In 2016, we opened the first “Infinity Boutique” in Qatar, in addition to centers of sale and service in Fujairah and Bahrain. In Dubai, we opened our first official center for second-hand Infinity cars. We also intend to expand our work in the Middle East in line with the company sales’ volume.

*What is the company’s view concerning the production of self-driving cars?

– When people think about self-driving cars, they only think about the final stages of these vehicles and not about their intermediate stages. Currently, Infinity is at these intermediate stages. In some cars, like “Q50”, we have a system that warns from front hits and can use breaks when needed; it also comprises the “cruise system”, which automatically reduces the car speed when another car approaches, then resume its speed again. These systems can be activated or deactivated by the driver.

Saudi Justice Ministry: We Have Nothing to Hide in Terror-Related Affairs

Samaani

Riyadh – Saudi Minister of Justice Dr. Walid al-Samaani confirmed that his ministry has nothing to hide regarding terror issues or any other matter.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat that justice in Saudi Arabia deals with criminal trials, including those related to terrorism, like any other in which all fair standards are applied according to Islamic law, regulations and principles.

A suspect is tried according to the Saudi Arabian justice system and he has the right to hire a lawyer, who can attend all the investigation procedures and check all documents and his client’s minutes. He noted that the Ministry pays to hire a lawyer for suspects who cannot afford one.

Samaani said that his ministry has formed work teams to communicate, according to diplomatic means, with international parties, provide them with all what is related to judicial achievements with full transparency and answer all the questions regarding the justice system in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi minister pointed out that the Justice Ministry has put a comprehensive plan to develop 70 major projects to raise the efficiency of the justice system, guarantee rights, provide judicial services, achieve work with good quality and proficiency and ensure implementation of the verdicts.

When told that the judicial authority in Saudi Arabia is subject to criticism by international human rights organizations, he stressed that his country does not accept the intervention of any party in its judicial affairs.

Regarding some western criticism on women’s rights, Samaani said that the Justice Ministry has opened doors for the recruitment of women in more than 300 posts in different fields, including guidance units, appointments and referrals administration and women’s conciliation cadres.

He also talked about 22 judicial rulings that have been executed in less than 72 hours from the date of their release. This marks a departure from the past when the implementation of the judicial rulings used to take several months, stressed Samaani.

James Jeffrey: Trump is Seeking to Restore Traditional US Policy

James Jeffrey

Washington – Former US Diplomat James Jeffrey said that President Donald Trump’s Administration was seeking to restore traditional US foreign policy, noting that the new president wanted to work with his country’s conventional allies in the Middle East, including Arab states, Turkey and Israel, in addition to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Jeffrey has assumed senior positions in Washington and has managed a number of regional files, including the Iranian case, during his work with former President Georges W. Bush’s administration. He is currently an expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, where he focuses on US regional diplomatic, and military strategy, as well as Turkey, Iraq, and Iran.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Jeffrey talks about the new US administration’s strategy in the region, in particular its relation with the Gulf, position towards Iran and support to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

“Trump takes us back to the traditional US foreign policy, which is represented in working with our conventional allies in the Middle East, within an international security system,” Jeffrey said.

He blamed the deterioration of the situation in the Middle East on the strategy adopted by former US President Barack Obama during his second presidential term, “along with some mistakes committed during Bush’s administration”.

Jeffrey noted, however, that Trump did not have a former experience in foreign affairs and “is quick in making decisions.”

“This might be good, especially when we see how Trump responded to the Syrian regime’s chemical attack with a firm resolution,” he stated.

“The first 100 days of Trump’s administration were a good beginning,” Jeffrey added.

The former diplomat described the US attack against the Syrian regime as a message to Russia and Iran.

“Syria is not the source of threat to stability in the Middle East, but Iran is the biggest threat to the region,” he stated.

He noted in this regard that the US should find the proper means to exert pressure on Russia, Syria, China and Iran, without resorting to wars.

As for the relations with Iran, Jeffrey said that the new US administration said it was seeking to review the nuclear deal and the Persian State’s compliance with its commitments.

He noted in this regard that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has told the Congress last week that Iran has been so far committed to its pledges, in line with the nuclear deal.

When asked about US warnings that it would cancel the deal with Iran, Jeffrey said: “I believe that the US administration wanted to trigger panic to push Russia and Iran to adopt a better behavior, but it won’t tear the deal apart or withdraw from it.”

The former diplomat underlined the need for the US administration to support the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen in order to curb the threats imposed by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels on the Saudi borders.

“By supporting the Kingdom and the alliance forces, we should find the means to impose ceasefire in Yemen and make sure there is no way for launching missiles on the Saudi borders,” Jeffrey said.