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Trump’s Saudi Visit Holds Important Dimensions, Strategic Issues | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Royal Saudi Air Force jets fly during a graduation ceremony for air force officers at King Faisal Air Academy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Reuters)

Washington, Riyadh – US political opinions varied on the visit of US President Donald Trump to Saudi Arabia on Saturday, as some politicians described it as an opportunity to unveil the president’s stance towards Gulf, Arab and Islamic leaders, while others noted that such visit would promote partnerships and alliances with more than 55 Islamic countries around the world.

Other American analysts went on to say that Trump’s speech in the Saudi capital would represent a roadmap for the US Administration’s policies in the Islamic world, and its war against terrorism and extremism.

According to US Diplomat Richard Haass, former president of the US Council on Foreign Relations, Trump’s visit to the Kingdom is seen as a reassurance to America’s allies in the region, who look towards a partnership with the US to stand against Iran and the nuclear deal, in addition to supporting the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, without getting the US involved in the war there.

“Israel, too, is looking for reassurance. Leaders there likely will pressure the president on reports that he’ll delay acting on his promise to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — a move that could trigger violence and set back what little chance exists for Israel-Palestinian reconciliation,” Haass said in an article published on Wednesday.

For Jon Alterman, senior vice-president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Gulf leaders believe that the US president shared their priorities, including hostility towards Iran.

In an article on CSIS website, Alterman said: “The Gulf’s leaders want to feel American love,” adding that they were seeking to work with the United States on fighting terrorism and boosting economic and military cooperation.

Back to Riyadh, Dr. Zuhair al-Harthi, the head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council, told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that Trump’s visit was the result of Saudi Arabia’s steady diplomatic efforts that have contributed to the revival of historic and strategic ties between the two countries.

He added that the most important message, which would be highlighted during the US-Arab-Islamic summit, was that religion had nothing to do with terrorism, and that all religions repudiate the heinous actions perpetrated by terrorist groups.