Trump Visits Middle East and Europe, Hoping to Change Global Narrative

Trump Visits Middle East and Europe, Hoping to Change Global Narrative

Donald Trump will make his first foreign visit this week, eschewing more typical early presidential destinations like Canada in favor of a photo-op heavy swing through Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican, before attending next week's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels.

Khaled Maeena, the Jeddah-based former editor of the Arab News and Saudi Gazette, said Arab leaders should hold Trump accountable for his harsh anti-Muslim rhetoric and his attempts to impose a travel ban on select Muslim-majority countries.

In reality, the likelihood of failure may not worry either Trump or the Saudi leadership, both of whom have shown a propensity for policy characterized by big, flashy announcements that are rarely followed through with concrete steps.

The kingdom's control of the holy sites has been criticized by Muslims around the world. This has been a major issue in the Iranian election, with hardliner Raisi accusing Rouhani of making too many concessions without gaining any economic benefits.

Well aware of heightened concerns about terrorism, the Republican hopes to bring back hard commitments from USA allies in the fight against the Islamic State group.

The centerpiece of the trip is Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia, where he will publicly embrace the reform agenda of Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and moderate Arab allies, such as Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince and military leader of the United Arab Emirates. These are two governments that are friends of the president, welcoming the change from President Obama. Trump travels with baggage as heav. "Trump has been very clear about the need to push back against Iran". Given Trump's shifting positions, Europe watchers say, leaders of countries in the alliance are concerned he could shift his position again in a way that is at cross purposes with their interests.

McMaster said Trump would deliver a speech in Saudi Arabia expressing hope that a peaceful vision of Islam would resonate worldwide.

"We see them supply weapons to the Houthis including ballistic missiles that are fired at our cities", Jubeir said.

Yet, if he and his team score some early policy successes on the first leg of the trip, they may gain some respite from their domestic troubles.

Rounding out the weekend's events is a U.S. -Saudi business forum with CEOs from companies like GE and Dow Chemical, as well as Saudi Arabia's state-run oil company Aramco. He said the Trump administration will retake "our role as convener and facilitator". The package includes a number of advanced systems, most notably a THAAD missile defense system, and is meant to improve Saudi Arabia's military capabilities.

He said Trump's message will be that the battle is not one of religion or culture but "good versus evil". US allies have been rattled by his warnings about pulling back from the world. The already doing what it probably can to crush it through force.

"It's nearly always true that when a president goes on a big foreign trip, especially one that has some important summits ... that that dominates the news and knocks most other stuff out", said Republican strategist Charlie Black. This week, he only further fueled concerns when The Washington Post first reported he spilled top secret intelligence in an Oval Office meeting with a Russian delegation.

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