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US, Arab Reactions to Trump’s Saudi Visit: ‘A Historic Milestone’ | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (R) welcomes U.S. President Donald Trump at the Royal Court in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Arab Capitals – Politicians, officials, and experts from the United States and Arab countries said that US President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia was a “historic milestone” and a new beginning for the US relations with the Arab and Islamic world.

Noting the presence of positive signals regarding the resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and the end to Iran’s threats to the region, political analysts underlined a strong US-Arab determination to fight terrorism, which is mainly produced by ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the Syrian regime.

Jordan’s Minister of State for Media Affairs Mohammed al-Momani said that Trump would relaunch the US relations with Saudi Arabia and the Arab and Islamic world and would seek to reduce the role of Iran in the region, which would restore security and stability in the Middle East.

“We are looking forward to this historic summit, in which we see the opportunity to establish strategic agreements to resolve regional issues that are related to security, stability and the Palestinian cause,” Momani stated.

Jordan’s Former Deputy Prime Minister Jawad Anani highlighted the importance of the US president’s visit to the Kingdom, saying: “We expect that mechanisms will be set to limit the Iranian influence in the region.”

He added that the visit would restore Saudi Arabia’s role as one of the world’s decision-makers.

Former Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said he hoped the US-Arab-Islamic summit would “correct very important tracks”, including the resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian talks and the establishment of fair and comprehensive peace based on the two-state solution.

Describing the summit as an opportunity to launch a direct and honest dialogue on the situation in the Middle East, Moussa noted that it would also correct “the distorted representation” of attacks against the Muslim religion.

“This summit can play an important role to stress that there are no enmities between the Arabs and the United States,” the former Arab League secretary-general said, highlighting the presence of new partnerships that would yield positively on both sides.

“We hope that US President Trump would have an important message to deliver during this summit, as the leader of the world’s greatest power,” he continued.

Egypt’s former Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Arabi said that Riyadh’s meetings were a “unique event in the history of international relations”.

However, he noted that it was unlikely that the US-Arab-Islamic summit would adopt effective measures towards Iran, but added that it would represent a moral support for Gulf countries against Iran’s expansionist plans in the region.

Egyptian Politician Khaled Daoud, the head of Al-Dostour (Constitution) Party, said that the summit’s priority was to tackle Iranian threats and send a clear message to Iran about the “United States’ strong support to the Kingdom and the Gulf”.

“We hope that leaders at the summit would convince Trump to take positive measures regarding a solution to the Palestinian cause and to abandon his plan to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Daoud added.

Yemen’s Minister of Human Rights Mohammed Askar said that the summit would promote partnership in facing ISIS-made terrorism and extremism, as well as Iran’s terrorism and expansionism.

“It would also convey a message to the whole world that terrorism has no religion and that the United States respects Islam and seeks to promote cooperation with Muslim states and leaders,” he stated.

As for Yemen, the minister said he hoped the summit would provide strong support to the Yemeni population and would seek to end the sufferings of Yemenis by defeating the insurgency.

Libyan Politician Ahmed Qadhaf al-Dam expressed optimism towards Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, stressing the need for Arab and Muslim leaders to show the US president a “unified stance” on regional and thorny issues.

US Diplomat Richard Haass, former president of the US Council on Foreign Relations said that Trump’s visit to the Kingdom was 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 will likely 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 earlier this week.

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 that Gulf leaders were seeking to work with the United States on fighting terrorism and boosting economic and military cooperation.
Robert Satloff, the executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said that Trump was “definitively changing American foreign policy from the Barack Obama era to the Donald Trump era as it concerns the Middle East.”

He added that the US president should take advantage of his meetings with Arab and Muslim leaders to propose a new partnership to face threats imposed by ISIS and al-Qaeda and radical militias supported by Iran.