The significance of Trump’s visit to Riyadh
US President Donald Trump will arrive in Saudi Arabia next week on a special visit. It will be his first foreign trip since he took office in January. The US and Saudi Arabia have a history of strategic relations stretching back more than 75 years, and this visit is expected to further strengthen those relations.
The US is a superpower and the world’s largest economy and strongest political and military power. Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and has Makkah and Madinah, the religion’s two holiest sites. The Kingdom is one of the world’s biggest economies and a G-20 member.
Saudi Arabia plays a highly visible and significant role in security and counterterrorism in the region, sharing information with many countries. It also plays an important military role in leading an Arab coalition to restore the legitimate government in Yemen.
The Obama administration’s failure to deal with conflicts in the region led to their becoming more complex and more difficult to solve. Trump’s visit is seen as a corrective that will underscore the importance of the longstanding bilateral relations.
Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri
There are many reasons why Trump chose Riyadh for his first foreign visit. Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met him when he visited the US in March. They held important talks on the region and its stability, and expressed satisfaction with the historic bilateral relations.
The deputy crown prince explained that the region saw former President Barack Obama’s administration as having let its Gulf allies down, and how that negative perception had affected relations. The Obama administration’s failure to deal with conflicts in the region led to their becoming more complex and more difficult to solve. Trump’s visit is seen as a corrective that will underscore the importance of the longstanding bilateral relations.
Trump realizes the big regional role played by Saudi Arabia in putting together an Islamic coalition to counterterrorism, with all its challenges and dangers. He knows the Kingdom has a vision of development and prosperity, unlike Iran which supports revolution and chaos, and that Saudi Arabia is a leader of efforts to secure the region and restore stability.
Trump is showing his support for the war on terror by visiting Muslims, Jews and Christians who are united in their desire to eradicate extremist terrorism. Saudi Arabia welcomes his visit; bilateral cooperation was clearly emphasized with the appointment of King Salman’s son, Prince Khaled bin Salman, as Saudi ambassador to the US.
• Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri is a political analyst and international relations scholar.