Thursday, 20 September, 2018

Seeking new narrative, Trump embarks on trip to Middle East and Europe

Kenny Thornton | 19 May, 2017, 22:50

Given his current political fortunes, if President Donald Trump's crucial first foreign trip passes off without a disaster, it will be considered a success.

In his first few months in office, US President Donald Trump has continuously broken with tradition and thrown convention to the wind. And it's not just the bragging rights Trump gets when he goes to his own properties: Staffers know his meal preferences and the exact temperature he likes a room set at.

Will the cloud of controversy follow?

On April 7, one day after a USA decision and a military action in Syria, Trump informed King Salman through a phone call about the limited military operation in the war-torn country and they agreed that it was essential to respond to the chemical attack against innocent civilians. But if the president is looking for a reprieve, recent history indicates he might be disappointed.

In addition to Saudi Arabia, the oppressive sheiks running Bahrain have also received fresh military imports from the U.S., decried by their jailed human rights activist, Nabeel Rajab, in his recent column in the New York Times.

Each week, 'Can He Do That?' examines the powers and limitations of the American presidency, focusing on one area where Trump is seemingly breaking precedent. Obama's agenda and announcements on those trips were completely overshadowed by the campaign. "He represents the United States, even if we are setting kind of a low bar for this trip - if he doesn't make mistakes". One of them - Herbert C. Hoover - did not travel overseas as president. That said, the leaders in Saudi Arabia are not obsessed with the American FBI director and possible Russian meddling in the campaign in the way that the media and many Americans may be. Thus, we must expect to hear more of Trump's anti-Iran rhetoric in his Middle East trip. The changing relationship will come into sharp focus this weekend, as American corporate titans visit Riyadh for an investment summit scheduled to coincide with Donald Trump's first foreign trip as United States president. The nine-day trip will be his longest since becoming president.

Trump is known to be a homebody, someone who greatly prefers sleeping in his own bed, golfing at his own courses, dining at his own properties. How will he adapt? Though Trump has thus far proven unwilling to "rip up" the Iranian nuclear deal, he has initiated new sanctions on Iran, and repeatedly promised a more assertive US policy to deal with Iran's "destabilizing" regional behaviors.

Also, The Associated Press reports that caterers in Saudi Arabia will have the option of steak with ketchup (the president's preferred meal) in addition to local cuisine.

Saudi Arabia wants to seize on Trump's visit to show itself as an earnest partner in the war on terror. His advisers say he wanted to visit these three major religious centers to deliver a message of unity in the fight against terrorism.

Ivanka Trump to travel with president to Europe and Middle East
There are high expectations that an arms deal worth $100bn that has been in the works for awhile will be ready by that date. The president's first stop will be in Saudi Arabia, before continuing to Israel, Italy, Vatican City and Belgium.

"This trip will convey that America is back", Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a news conference at the State Department. "This is not a battle about religions". This is a battle about good and evil.

Trump's final itinerary hardly eases him into the delicate world of global diplomacy on foreign soil.

Trump is scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia, home to Islam's holiest sites, from Saturday on his first foreign trip since taking office in January.

In Brussels, Mr Trump will attend a meeting of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, after repeatedly musing about abandoning the "obsolete" military alliance over financial commitments, and in Sicily, the president will meet with the other leaders of the G7.

"This is a President who has surrounded himself with advisers who have let's just say not the most nuanced views of Islam", Finer told CNN International's Christiane Amanpour on Thursday. Article 5 says an attack against one ally is considered an attack against all allies.

Mr Trump has frequently targeted the country while opposing the landmark nuclear deal struck in 2015, claiming to put Tehran "on notice" following a ballistic missile test in February, with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei responding by calling nationwide protests, where anti-US demonstrators burned flags and shouted "death to America".

Third stop is Bethlehem, where Mr. Trump will meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Although Trump didn't explicitly endorse his opponent Marine Le Pen, he clearly had an affinity for her nationalist ideas and she an affinity for his.

"In the end "America First" means using the GCC and Arab partners as proxies and surrogates, propped up with USA equipment and training (paid for by these partners), to implement United States policy", he said.

Obama had notably frosty relationships with leaders in Saudi Arabia and with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "Prioritizing American interests means strengthening alliances and partnerships that help us extend our influence and improve the security of the American people".

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