Christi Gibson
May 24, 2017

For the first time in our nation’s history, President Donald J Trump selected a Muslim country as his inaugural official visit overseas, addressing the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and regional leaders in Riyadh on Sunday, May 21, 2017. Speaking with sincerity of heart and great conviction, President Trump emphasized principles consecrating the “Trump Doctrine” of his foreign policy outlook on the Middle East. Stressing unity, pragmatism and sovereign responsibility in achieving “ the greatest goal of our time-eradicating extremism” in our world, he expressed key points which will ultimately aid in accomplishing this goal.

President Trump urged “old formulas be cast aside” by reassuring his commitment to Saudi Arabia and the region with a promise of “no sudden interventions” nor alienation of the Kingdom. He also gave reassurance that ineffective strategies of the past will be discarded and “new approaches informed by experience and judgement” be implemented. And by adopting a “Principled Realism, rooted in common values and shared interests” and “whenever possible, seeking gradual reforms-not sudden interventions”, our support will never be doubted and our enemies realize our determination. By advancing “security through stability” instead of radical disruption coupled with lessons of experience, peace can be achieved.

President Trump emphasized unity between Western nations and Islam and stressed the significance of the cultural factor in combating extremism in our world, urging all religious leaders be devoted to this cause. He stated, “This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations”, but “a battle between barbaric criminals. A battle between good and evil.”

President Trump stressed that each country is to “carry the weight” of its own self-defense, maintain military preparedness and the immediacy of duty that goes with that. He declared: “America is prepared to stand with you, but the nations of the Middle East cannot wait for American power to crush this enemy for them.” He also added that individual Muslim nations, in concert with US cooperation, must be proactively responsible for eradicating terrorism by denying “all territory to the foot soldiers of evil” and that every country in the region do their duty to ensure “terrorists find no sanctuary on their soil.” The President also announced the opening of the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology, representing a clear declaration that Muslim-majority countries “must take the lead in combating radicalization”, symbolizing the Kingdom’s commitment to self-sufficiency and strong demonstration of leadership by King Salman.

In stressing the theme of strategic unity among nations and faiths, President Trump declared: “Our goal is a coalition of nations”, adding that such countries share the aim of stamping out extremism. He further iterated that “if everyone in this room does their fair share and fulfills their part of the burden”, and “forces of good are united and strong”, evil can be combatted. The President went on to acknowledge specific Arab and Muslim countries to increase their aggressive fight against Daesh/ISIL, and against terrorism.

President Trump regards commercial deals necessary in securing peace and stability between nations, especially in the Middle East. Historic agreements were signed with the Kingdom with a two-fold vision: first, a massive scale of investment of hundreds of billions in the two countries creating substantial employment for both and a Saudi-funded arms deal that “will help the Saudi military to take a greater role in security operations.” Thus, economic investment and greater responsibility in defense/security operations comprise the end-goal of the commercial aspect.

The Priority of Anti-Terror –Financing as Policy is to be achieved by Arab and Muslim countries acting in “starving terrorists of their territory, their funding”. President Trump added: “As we deny terrorist organizations control of territory and populations, we must also strip them of their access to funds. We must cut off the financial channels that let ISIS sell oil, let extremists pay their fighters, and help terrorists smuggle their reinforcements.”

President Trump’s speech referenced the importance of the economic, social, and educational significance of creating societies well-buffered against the allure of radicalization. He specifically referenced Saudi Vision 2030 as “an important and encouraging statement of tolerance, respect, empowering women, and economic development.” President Trump described the region as fertile and having “all the ingredients for extraordinary success—a rich history and culture, a young and vibrant people, a thriving spirit of enterprise”, believing this regions has” never been greater.”

A key pillar of the Trump administration’s foreign policy is the position that Iran is the main destabilizing factor. President Trump emphasized that the Iranian government is guilty of providing terrorists with a safe harbor, financial backing, and the social standing needed for recruitment. And,” a regime responsible for so much instability in the region.”

One of the principle goals of President Trump’s trip is the desire “to form closer bonds of friendship, security, culture and commerce” in the Kingdom. The president boldly declared: “With God’s help, this summit will mark the beginning of the end for those who practice terror and spread its vile creed. At the same time, we pray this special gathering may someday be remembered as the beginning of peace in the Middle East—and maybe, even all over the world.”