With the landing of US President Donald Trump airplane in King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh as his first foreign destination, Obama’s phase in foreign policy reached an end. Choosing Saudi Arabia is a clear sign of the upcoming priorities of the US foreign policy.
This policy is embodied in the role the US administration believes that Riyadh can play in achieving their joint strategy. Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz said that the visit will reinforce strategic cooperation and achieve security for the region and world.
Riyadh and Washington are not only betting on correcting bilateral relations but also on enhancing level of coalition between them and returning it to its normal state. This alliance was fulfilled with a joint Saudi-US strategy.
There are four goals behind Trump’s visit and they seem on their way to be achieved.
The first goal is that strategic cooperation with Saudi Arabia is a cornerstone that enables US to reinforce its interests and security. Trump’s administration is aware that terrorism can’t be defeated without the support of the kingdom – the country standing in the frontline at the war against ISIS and al-Qaeda.
Saudi Arabia has proven itself to be the closest security partner of US and the intelligence relations between the two countries since Sep. 11 attacks have protected thousands of Americans and deterred terrorist operations that had US as a target.
The second goal is to help the US public opinion correct its image on Saudi Arabia and its importance in facing terrorism. Without the kingdom, terrorism can’t be besieged and eradicated. This highly important concept is absent and unclear for Americans.
The third goal is related to Trump’s explaining his correct image on Islam. When he wants to clarify his stance towards extremism and not mix it with Muslims then there is no better way than a summit where presidents and heads of the Arab world meet in the land of Makkah and Medina – the two sacred cities.
The fourth goal is to deliver a strict message to the Iranian regime since it is a regime isolated from the majority of the Islamic world and the page of Washington-Tehran rapprochement – during eight years of former administration – has been flipped.
The defensive agreement signed between Riyadh and Washington expressed this clearly – the White House described its goals as defying threats of Iran and regional terrorism as well as supporting the kingdom efforts in confronting terrorism.
The 48 hours Trump will spend in Riyadh will change the rules of the game in the region and world – it is not an official visit like other visits to Riyadh. Barack Obama visited Saudi Arabia four times but none of his visits carried a change or a wish to mend and reform the coalition.
This time, however, Riyadh-Washington ties as well as Arab-Islamic-US ties are expected to come out with a new strategy that contributes in the regional and international security and stability.
Trump is aware of the huge relapse of US in the past eight years and is also aware of the security threats that have doubled on the country and the whole world. For this, he has started rearranging the region’s papers through a visit that carries much symbolism after announcing that he will reconsider the US military role.
This doesn’t contradict with his slogan “America First” since without maintaining the interests of the strongest country in the world and reinforcing current coalitions, US position will shake and other powers will replace it. For sure, this is the last thing a great power such as US wants.