Ebrahim Moosa - Radio Islam | 05 February 2017
(With additional reporting from agencies)
Despite igniting worldwide derision over his policies – many of which are brazenly anti-Muslim, a phonecall, in excess of an hour long, between Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman last Sunday concluded with an agreement to step up ‘counter-terrorism’ and military cooperation and enhance economic cooperation, according to a senior Saudi source cited by Reuters.
In fact, in emphasizing the “depth and strength of the strategic relations between the two countries,” the official Saudi Press Agency(SPA) reported a striking concurrence emerging between the two leaders’ positions on major issues covered during that conversation.
“The views of the two leaders were identical on the files that were discussed during the call, including the fight against terrorism, extremism, their finance, formulating the appropriate mechanisms for that, and confronting those who seek to undermine security and stability in the region and interfere in the internal affairs of other states,” the official SPA release on the call read.
During the call, the leaders reportedly discussed the historic relations between the two “friendly” countries and the latest developments in the region and the world, in addition to discussing the “strategic partnership of the twenty first century between the two countries and the importance of improving the economic, security and military cooperation between them”.
In the course of the discussion, King Salman presented an invitation to the US President to visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, whilst Trump reciprocated with an offer to Salman to visit the United States.
“The two leaders agreed to schedule the visits in the coming period so as to promote cooperation and joint action and activate the strategic partnership between the two countries further to match the depth of the historic relations between them.”
A White House statement on the call said the two also discussed what it called an invitation from the king for Trump "to lead a Middle East effort to defeat terrorism and to help build a new future, economically and socially," for Saudi Arabia and the region.
The two also discussed the Muslim Brotherhood, a senior Saudi source said, adding in a reference to the late al Qaeda leader, "it was mentioned that Osama bin Laden was recruited at an early stage" by the organization.
Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates designated the Brotherhood a terrorist organization. Riyadh fears the Ikhwan, whose religiously inspired activism is seen as a challenge to the Saudi principle of dynastic rule.
U.S. officials and people close to Trump's transition team have said a debate is underway in the Trump administration whether the United States should also declare the Brotherhood a terrorist organization and subject it to U.S. sanctions.
Trump also spoke with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. In what appears to have been a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Crown Prince was cited by UAE state news agency WAM as saying "groups that raise fake slogans and ideologies aim to hide their criminal truth by spreading chaos and destruction."
Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan has also defended US President Donald Trump’s executive order to ban citizens from seven Muslim majority states branding it as a “sovereign decision”.
He denied the ban being “directed against a particular religion” and argued this by saying the largest Muslim majority countries have not been affected by the ban.
“This is a temporary ban and it will be revised in three months, so it is important that we put into consideration this point. Some of these countries that were on this list are countries that face structural problems,” he said. His Al Nahyan’s comments came days after Dubai’s head of security Dhahi Khalfan Tamim came out in support of Trump’s Muslim ban and said Iraqis, Iranians and Somalis deserved what was coming to them.
Jordan’s King Abdullah was also in Washington this week, arriving Monday for a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence at the White House.
Abdullah reportedly raised the issue of Trump’s new travel bans, but according to an official statement from his government, appeared more keen on highlighting how terrorism imperilled the globe.
“His Majesty stressed that terrorism is a common enemy that threatens all of us. He emphasized that Muslims are number one victims of the outlaws of Islam (Khawarej), who pose a global threat and do not represent any faith or nationality and target all who disagree with their ideology of hate.”
Also during the past week week, a telephone conversation took place between Deputy Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense and US Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
According to official Saudi sources, the Deputy Crown Prince thanked Mattis for his “noble feelings” toward the Kingdom, pointing out the strategic relations between the two countries, which extends for more than eighty years.
“The Deputy Crown Prince underscored the US Secretary of Defense's experience in the region and looked forward to working together to serve the interests of both countries and the fight against terrorism, militias and piracy and that it is necessary to restore stability to the region's countries and develop relations between the two countries in all fields, based on the directives of the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques.”
For his part, the US Secretary of Defense reportedly expressed “delight and readiness” to work in conjunction with the Deputy Crown Prince in all fields.
“We are very, very optimistic about the Trump administration. And on working closely with it to deal with the many challenges, not only in our region, but in the world,” Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Adel Al-Jubeir, said in Riyadh last month.
A statement from the Saudi embassy added that Jubeir “explained that the Kingdom is largely in accord with President Trump’s stated policies, including containing Iran, defeating extremists such as Daesh (ISIS) and restoring the U.S. presence in the world.”