It’s revealing that Saudi Arabia is the first country the American president has visited since his inauguration. That was a first in US history. The choice of Saudi Arabia is all the more interesting because throughout the last year Washington’s relations with Riyadh have been strained. For example, Barack Obama got a decidedly cool reception when he visited Saudi Arabia in April 2016. And now we see this unexpected reversal.
Three key issues were discussed at the meetings in Riyadh.
The first issue officially concerned the war on terror. The American president called on Muslim nations to help shoulder the fight against extremism and terrorism. And some very specific, hard-nosed propositions were camouflaged under broad statements. At the heart of those proposals is the formation of a regional bloc that would be aimed against Iran and Syria. And that bloc would not only be political, but also military. Iran has in effect been declared an enemy of the US, with all that that entails. In the eyes of the strategists in the White House, the bastion of the struggle against the «Iranian evil» should consist of Saudi Arabia and Israel.
The practical payoff to the meeting between the leaders of the Arab monarchies and the US president was an agreement to establish a joint Terrorist Financing Targeting Center. The center’s goals will be to «identify … information regarding terrorist financial networks», «coordinate joint disruptive actions», and «offer support to countries in the region that need assistance building capacity to counter terrorist finance threats».
The second issue is about US arms shipments to Saudi Arabia. The White House has dropped a bombshell: an agreement was reached in Riyadh to sell the Saudis $110…