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May 18, 2017 7:46 pm

‘Don’t Be Another Obama’ – Saudi Columnist Issues Plea to Trump

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President Donald Trump. Photo: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons.

Ahead of Donald Trump’s arrival in Saudi Arabia on Friday — making the Islamic Kingdom the first foreign country to receive an official visit from the new US President — Saudi newspaper columnists heralded the prospect of improved relations with the US.

Writing in Al-Watan daily – in a translation made available by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) – Ali Sa’d Al-Moussa, an academic and writer, began with a scathing attack upon former President Barack Obama, whom he described as “infamous,” arguing that he had never delivered on any of his promises.

“Mr. President, together Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were an alliance of the defeated and the weak,” Al Moussa wrote. “Obama merely watched from the sidelines in this sickening show [in the region], when he allowed Tehran to effectively – not hypothetically – occupy Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen … Mr. President, you will discover that Riyadh is a loyal and independent ally and is the only one who knows all the keys to wisely and moderately solving [the crises in the region]. All [we] ask [of you] is that you not be just another version of Obama.”

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Khaled Al-Malik, editor-in-chief of the Saudi government daily Al-Jazirah, wrote: “Honorable President Trump… Soon you will visit the Saudi Arab kingdom, as part of your first visit outside [the US] after your election. This is a precedent that is in line with your bold and surprising positions.”

Al-Malik continued by urging Trump to focus on a resolution of the Palestinian conflict with Israel, describing it as “the key to obtaining peace and stability, to eliminating terrorism, and to achieving security for all the peoples of the world.”

However, in keeping with Saudi Arabia’s emphasis upon Iran as the root of the Middle East’s current crises, Al-Malik added: “We hope that one of the most important topics of discussion during your Saudi Arabia visit and your meeting with King Salman and the other Arab and Muslim leaders will be Iran’s threat to the region’s security, its encouraging of terrorism, and its support for extremism that have destabilized our region and exposed it to terror attacks.”

For Saudi Arabia, the most significant event is the planned Arab-Islamic-US summit, where it plans to showcase the kingdom’s reach and drawing power, the Associated Press reported on the eve of Trump’s departure.

King Salman is convening more than 50 Arab and Muslim leaders for the summit in Riyadh on Sunday. They will feast with Trump at a banquet and “forge a new partnership ” in the war against extremism, the king said this week. Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir – who has been shunned by the United States for the past decade because of International Criminal Court charges against him for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Darfur region – is among those invited.

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