Saudi Arabia seduces a president in trouble with contracts and compliments.
The contrast is striking between the Washington that Donald Trump left behind this Friday and the Riyadh that received him a few hours later.
In his country’s capital, Trump is a president besieged by investigations into the Russian plot around his electoral campaign, which apart from being severely criticized, led to the appointment of a special prosecutor in charge of investigating the case.
But while in Washington they are discussing whether the president’s actions have placed him in a position of possible impeachment, in the capital of Saudi Arabia, Trump received a lavish welcome. Lavish but not accidental, taking into account the profile of the visitor. Trump, remember, made Islamophobia and the association between terrorism and Islam one of the major axes of his electoral campaign and, later, as soon as he took office, his first decision was to impose a travel ban on citizens of seven Arab and Muslim countries.
Taking into account his appalling record, the royal treatment which the Saudis extended to Trump and, in a way unheard of, to his daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka and Jared, makes it clear to what extent Saudi diplomacy has understood that a Trump in the doldrums at home offers a great opportunity for him to be charmed away from it. And looking at the results, it seems obvious that the strategy has worked; by sealing an arms deal of more than $110 billion and doubling that figure in business projects, the visit allowed Trump to show himself as the successful entrepreneur, from which he has built his political career.
In addition to selling weapons — “One of the things that we will discuss is the purchase of lots of beautiful military equipment — Trump has consolidated an important shift in U.S. foreign policy. Compared to his predecessor Barack Obama, who opted for the social modernization and political openness of Arab and Muslim allies, Trump has decided to return to hard, straightforward reality. As has already been seen in his decision to receive the Egyptian President Sisi, (whom he called “friend”) and, that same week President Erdogan as well, also visiting Washington, Trump has only one yardstick for U.S. foreign policy: engaging in the fight against Islamic State terrorism. Thus, while the Gulf States cooperate with the U.S .— and they have done so, by signing an agreement against the financing of terrorist groups — Washington avoided any issue relating to democracy and human rights. The fight against “evil,” as Trump defined the Islamic State group, is the only priority. We return to the past.
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