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Trump and King Salman: An Alliance for Man | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Saudi King Salman with US President Donald Trump during his Riyadh trip on May 20. (SPA)

The summit, rather the summits that were and will be hosted by the Saudi capital Riyadh on Saturday and Sunday, between the leading country in the world, the United States, and the leaders of the Gulf, Arab and Muslim worlds, are historic events with many connotations.

US President Donald Trump visited Riyadh at the invitation of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman after the important files were prepared by Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman in wake of his famous trip to Washington where he met with the US leader and American officials.

We are facing a historic moment indeed where the west, led by the major power, the US, will become deeply tied to the greatest global Muslim bloc against the plague of terrorism.

Yes, it is a global plague that is targeting the entire plant, not just a particular region. Al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia had previously carried out evil operations in Mecca itself. An ISIS member also blew himself up in the al-Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina.

Trump with King Salman and Muslim and Arab leaders will inaugurate in Riyadh the Global Center for Combatting Extremist Ideology.

This is a major and unprecedented development that reveals the depth of cooperation between the rational minds of the world.

Trump headed to the Kingdom, the land of holy sites, to declare with Muslim leaders a determination to defeat terrorism and the culture of hate.

This will be achieved through an alliance with Muslims against the gangs of evil. The war is not between the west and Muslims, as claimed by ISIS propaganda and Khomeini groups. It is battle between good and evil and light and darkness. The majority of Muslims support good and light against evil and darkness.

Saudi Arabia is an indispensable partner in cementing peace and combatting chaos and organizations of evil and death due to its importance in the Muslim world and its duty in defending Islam against those seeking to tarnish its image.

This Saudi duty in combatting extremist and terrorist groups is not new and it is not a reaction against ISIS and al-Qaeda operations, but the Kingdom has always been on the frontline of this defense.

Under the reign of founder King Abdulaziz, the Kingdom confronted religious extremists who raised their weapons against the state after political and cultural efforts failed in deterring their rebellion. As a result, the famous al-Sibla battle of 1929 took place between the Saudi state and local the “Brotherhood”. The reason of the modern state was victorious against the extremist rhetoric.

The year 1979 witnessed the Juhayman group’s occupation of Mecca’s Grand Mosque for two weeks.

In 2003, al-Qaeda kicked off its crimes against Saudi Arabia by bombing residential complexes in Riyadh. The diabolical series has continued since then. Saudi security, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, defeated al-Qaeda in the Kingdom, forcing it to move to Yemen and beyond.

Saudi Arabia remained however alone its fight against terrorism due to the west’s lax approach or political naiveté at the time.

Of course, another reason for its weakness in fighting terrorism during those years was the political deception exercised by regional countries, such as Iran and Syria, in order to exploit terrorism for their interests.

Let us examine the following incidents:

In February 2004, Prince Abdulaziz bin Bandar told the Saudi Okaz newspaper that the Kingdom will cooperate with all countries, starting with the US, in combatting terror.

The September 11 Commission later attested in 2004 that Saudi Arabia has become a fierce fighter of al-Qaeda.

In 2005, late King Abdullah urged the establishment of the international center for fighting terrorism, but his call fell on deaf ears. This frustrated the king, who expressed this disappointment about a month before his death. The United Nation had acknowledged on its website that it was possible in 2011 to establish the international center for fighting terrorism through a donation by the Saudi government.

In 2008, Riyadh and Washington signed a bilateral agreement on technical cooperation to combat terrorism. The deal calls for the US to provide consultants on security assistance and offer training of Saudi forces. The cooperation achieved success on the international scene.

The BBC reported at the time that Saudi Arabia was playing a pivotal role in the US campaign against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

In January 2015, US Homeland Security Advisor to President Barack Obama and the chief counterterrorism advisor to the President, Lisa Monaco, thanked former Saudi intelligence chief Khalid bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz for the Kingdom’s efforts in fighting terror. She underscored Riyadh’s role in maintaining regional peace and stability.

In December 2015, Saudi Arabia announced the Islamic military coalition to combat terrorism. The coalition aims at confronting terror in all of its forms and regardless of its sect or name.

In February 2017, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef was decorated with a US medal in recognition of his global efforts in combatting terrorism.

CIA director Mike Pompeo presented him with the medal and the Crown Prince said at the time that those trying to create division between Saudi Arabia and the US will fail.

“Fighting terrorism is a joint international responsibility,” he added.

Finally, and despite campaigns aimed at tarnishing Saudi Arabia’s role in the fight against terror, it will be hard to hide the facts, especially in the vital Saudi intelligence field. This is a position that was underlined by British Prime Minister Theresa May during the last Gulf summit in Bahrain.

Even the media is not considered a friend of Saudi Arabia. It even admits to it.

In April 2017, the National Interest magazine said the Trump administration should realize Saudi Arabia is vital in eliminating ISIS and al-Qaeda and other extremist groups. It later however questioned the credibility of this Saudi-US friendship.

In the end, honest and serious cooperation between Washington and Riyadh is the correct passage that will definitely lead to a solution. It is an alliance between the rational minds of the world, Muslims and non-Muslims, to establish peace and the dream.