This is a jaw-dropping exhibition of the scope of President Trump’s strategic leverage. Remember how Secretary of State Rex Tillerson refused to take the bait from Senator Marco Rubio regarding Saudi Arabia? Put this outcome in the dividend column.
Those who have not followed the back-story of non-extremist politics in the middle-east will miss the obvious play identified more readily by those who have followed closely.
One of the major influences and advisers for King Salman of Saudi Arabia is Egyptian President Fattah Abdel el-Sisi. El-Sisi has already established a productive relationship with President Trump both before and after the election. No doubt King Salman and President Sisi debriefed the prior conversations between Trump and el-Sisi.
Today King Salman agrees to a primary expressed policy position of President Trump. Saudi Arabia will support and finance “safe zones” within Syria and Yemen. This is a big, big deal.
(Via Reuters) Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, in a phone call on Sunday with U.S. President Donald Trump, agreed to support safe zones in Syria and Yemen, a White House statement said.
Trump, during his presidential campaign last year, had called for Gulf states to pay for establishing safe zones to protect Syrian refugees.
A statement after the phone call said the two leaders agreed on the importance of strengthening joint efforts to fight the spread of Islamic State militants.
“The president requested and the King agreed to support safe zones in Syria and Yemen, as well as supporting other ideas to help the many refugees who are displaced by the ongoing conflicts,” the statement said.
[…] A senior Saudi source told Reuters the two leaders spoke for over an hour by telephone and agreed to step up counter-terrorism and military cooperation and enhance economic cooperation. But the source had no word on whether the two leaders discussed Trump’s order to put a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the United States and temporarily ban travelers from Syria and six other Muslim-majority countries.
The source said Saudi Arabia would enhance its participation in the U.S.-led coalition fighting to oust Islamic State from its strongholds in Iraq and Syria.
The White House statement said the two leaders also agreed on the need to address “Iran’s destabilizing regional activities.” SPA also mentioned Trump and the King had similar visions on “confronting whomever seeks to destabilise security and stability in the region and interfere in the affairs of other countries,” an apparent reference to Riyadh’s arch-foe Iran.
Both countries share views about Iranian policies in the region, the Saudi source said, suggesting Trump agreed with Riyadh’s suspicion of what it sees as Tehran’s growing influence in the Arab world. Iran denies it meddles in Arab countries. (read more)
In addition to el-Sisi there are modern entities within the Gulf States, specifically the UAE, who will understand and support a more strategic White House relationship.
Predictably, Qatar, the worst of the bunch, will be excluded if they don’t fall in line. The Gulf States have grown more open in their admonishment of the actions under the table of those holding extremist views. When Qatar expelled the five leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, this was an early indication that Sisi’s moderate ideological influence was empowering push back. The Gulf States rallied around Sisi’s call for expulsion.
A move by King Salman (Saudi Arabia) to support the safe zones in Syria and Yemen is evidence of Sisi’s growing alliance holding more influence. King Abdullah (Jordan) is already on team Sisi.
This is good news for everyone who wants to see Islamic extremist elements confronted and removed.