Saudi king says Iran at forefront of global terrorism

Elias Hubbard
May 22, 2017

Addressing the Arab-Islamic American Summit in Riyadh, he said: "We now face a humanitarian and security disaster in this region that is spreading".

Trump received a warm welcome from Arab leaders, who set aside his campaign rhetoric about Muslims and focused on his desire to crack down on Iran's influence in the region, a commitment they found wanting in Obama. That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamic extremism and the Islamists and Islamic terror of all kinds.

"In sheer numbers the deadliest toll has been exacted on Arab, Muslim and Middle Eastern nations, " he said. His chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, has called Islam "the most radical religion" in the world and warned of a "major shooting war" in the Middle East.

While "Islamic" can refer to any aspect of the Muslim faith, "Islamist" refers more specifically to a fundamentalist ideology that espouses Islamic law as the basis of society.

"This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects or different civilizations", Trump said. "This is a battle between good and evil". The Washington Post said the probe had reached into the White House to include a Trump adviser, who was not named. Our first priority is the safety and security of our citizens.

A visit to Saudi Arabia has kicked off Donald Trump's first foreign trip as president.

The first daughter reportedly described herself as a "female leader within the Trump administration", and said she wants "to help empower women in the United States and around the globe".

Trump's prepared address also notably refrains from mentioning democracy and human rights - topics Arab leaders often view as USA moralizing - in favor of the more limited goals of peace and stability.

"We are not here to lecture - to tell other peoples how to live, what to do or who to be. Instead, we are here to offer partnership - based on shared interests and values - to pursue a better future for all of us". President Trump has made no such demands from a country well-known for its abysmal human rights record.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a bilateral meeting with Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Riyadh. As the participants laughed, Trump responded: "I agree".

A Sunday meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi underscored the kinship, with Trump saluting his counterpart on the April release of Egyptian-American charity worker Aya Hijazi, who had been detained in the country for almost three years. "Love your shoes. Boy, those shoes", he said.

Trump did not hesitate to single out Iran in his speech.

During the 2016 USA campaign, Trump mused about his belief that "Islam hates us". "We will have truly drowned the voices of extremism and we will have drained the swamps from which extremism and terrorism emanates".

To drain that swamp, Trump will also emphasize some of the same tools President Obama did.

On Saturday the USA and Saudi Arabia announced an arms deal worth almost $110 billion (98 billion euros), which was described as the largest in U.S. history.

Some Democrats have sharply criticized that the weapons sales. "But the path to peace begins right here, on this ancient soil, in this sacred land", he will say in Saudi Arabia, the first stop on a nine-day tour that includes Israel, Italy and Belgium.

The speech comes amid a renewed courtship of the United States' Arab allies as Trump held individual meetings with leaders of several nations, including Egypt and Qatar, before participating in a roundtable with the Gulf Cooperation Council and joining Saudi King Salman in opening Riyadh's new anti-terrorism center.

Trump has sought to accelerate the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria and his outreach signals that Trump understands he needs a more constructive relationship with Muslim countries, particularly those in the Middle East, if he hopes to succeed in his stated goal of destroying ISIS and other terrorist groups.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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