Introduction — May 21, 2017
President’s Trump’s speech in Riyadh Sunday is not going to win him any friends in Tehran. Apart from concluding a $110 billion arms deal with Iran’s arch regional rivals, President Trump also criticised Tehran for providing extremists with “safe harbour” and “financial backing”.
Of course this is exactly what Trump’s Saudi hosts have been providing Sunni militants with.
The effects of Saudi sponsorship can be seen across the region, especially in Syria where Saudi money has helped finance militants, and in some cases even paid for terrorist’s regular salaries.
Support for such extreme measures isn’t limited to Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy however, it extends closer to home too.
Apart from imprisoning local dissidents, Saudi Arabia is also notable for continuing public beheadings. Beyond treason and murder, crimes that are punishable by death in Saudi Arabia also include: adultery, atheism, burglary, carjacking, idolatry, sorcery, sexual misconduct and witchcraft.
In 2015 Saudi Arabia carried out more than 157 beheadings.
Tehran will find Trump’s words all the more galling as only the day before President Rouhani secured a second term in office with a comfortable election win. Whatever one thinks of Iran’s election procedures Iranians still have more democratic rights than ordinary folk in Saudi Arabia, which is a monarchy ruled by the House of Saud.
So just as Iranian voters endorse a leader who is ready to cooperate with the wider world, President Trump steps up to blame Iran “for so much instability” in the Middle East.
“From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms and trains terrorists, militias and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region”, Trump said in his speech in Riyadh.
This is only the beginning of President Trump’s first overseas tour. After Riyadh he flies in to Tel Aviv, Israel, before he meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican and tours St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. After which Trump will fly to Brussels where he meets with European Union officials and dines with the heads of state of the 28 NATO countries.
So we could be in for a lot more hypocrisy and double-talk from President Trump before the month is over. Ed.
Trump slams Iran in first foreign speech
AFP — May 21, 2017
US President Donald Trump made a 30-minute speech on Sunday in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh on his first foreign visit since taking office.
Trump’s speech, preceded by a traditional Koranic reading, held Iran responsible for global extremism, urged Arab and Muslim nations to freeze channels of funding for groups including the Islamic State and Hezbollah, and highlighted US and Saudi commitment to economic development, inter-faith peace and the fight against terrorism.
Here are key highlights:
– On economic ties, Trump said some $400 billion in agreements signed this weekend with Saudi Arabia would create hundreds of thousands of jobs in both countries, and that he looked forward to cooperating in the future.
“This landmark agreement includes the announcement of a $110 billion Saudi-funded defence purchase. And we will be sure to help our Saudi friends to get a good deal from our great American defence companies, the greatest anywhere in the world. This agreement will help the Saudi military to take a far greater role in security and operations having to do with security.”
– Trump said Muslim-majority states should take the lead in combating extremism: “A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists… Drive them out of your places of worship. Drive them out of your community.”
– He said “terrorists do not worship God, they worship death… This is not a battle between different faiths… this is a battle between good and evil.”
– Trump praised the six-state Gulf Cooperation Council, specifically Saudi Arabia, for “blocking funders from using their countries as a financial base for terror, and for designating Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation, which they certainly are, this year.”
– The president said Iran was responsible for training armed groups in the wars in Syria, Yemen and Iraq, but drew a clear distinction between the “richness and culture” of the Iranian people and the government in Tehran.
– On Iran’s influence, Trump said: “The government that gives terrorists safe harbour, financial backing… It is the regime that is responsible for so much instability in that region. I am speaking of course of Iran. From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms and trains terrorists, militias and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region” and calls for the destruction of Israel and death to America.
– On refugees, he praised Lebanon and Turkey for accommodating Syrians fleeing war at home: “This region should not be a place from which refugees leave but to which newcomers flock.”
– Trump said Arab and Muslim countries had suffered the deadliest toll of radicalism: “Innocent blood soaked into the ancient ground… knows no religion, faith or tribe.”
– He asked: “Behind every pair of eyes is a soul that yearns for justice and years for peace. Today billions of faces are now looking at us, waiting for us to act on the great questions of our time. Will we be indifferent in the face of evil?”
– Trump concluded with the “promise that America will not seek to impose our way of life on others but to outstretch our hands.”