Donald Trump spoke at the Saudi organised Arab-Islamic-American Summit in Riyadh. He spoke in front of leaders of most Muslim majority countries in the world with two notable exceptions: Syria and Iran.
His speech focused on the typical Trump themes of self-reliance in respect of an Arab and wider Muslim world that Trump called on to rely less on America to fight its battles.
However, all of Trump’s broad condemnations of terrorism fell short of approaching realism when he condemned Iran as a country which foments, enables and finances of terrorism.
At one point in the speech, Donald Trump issued what could only be described as a clarion call against Iran. Trump was careful to stop short of seeking or even implying military action against Iran, but instead spoke of the need to “isolate” Iran.
In his speech, the American President only mentioned Syria in the context of Iran’s support of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.
In a speech whose general content was aimed at ISIS and by extrapolation the wider Wahhabi terrorism that Saudi Arabia funds and arms, it is literally illogical and downright dishonest to condemn Iran or Syria. It is equally nonsensical to condemn the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah which is fighting on the same side as Syria, Russia and Iran against Whhabist terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda, both of which receive the majority of their funds from Gulf states like Saudi Arabia and US ally Qatar.
The absence of two of the only Muslim majority states that are both serious about and capable of fighting terrorism made the entire conference somewhat farcical.
Holding a conference which is in part aimed at destroying terrorism, without Syria and Iran is like holding a conference on fire safety without inviting a single current of retired fire fighter.
Donald Trump spoke a great deal about the commercial opportunities that increased cooperation with the Arab and wider Muslim world could afford. This was essentially the real gist of the speech, showing the American people that the Saudi Dollars which flowed into America in the aftermath of a titanic arms deal will be good for the US economy.
Selling weapons to Syria and Iran would also be good for the US economy and it would also not morally compromise America in the wider fight against terrorism, but after years of aggressive US policies including war, the threat of war and sanctions, countries like Iran and Syria are buying their weapons from Russia and also from China.
Iran’s Shi’a democratic theocracy does not threaten world peace, but Saudi Arabia’s extremist Wahhabi kleptocracy does. Syria’s secular, tolerate republic likewise is a bulwark against terrorism and a modern society that most Americans would feel far more at home in than the regressive obscurantist monarchies of the Gulf.
The shame of today’s speech is not Donald Trump’s alone but should be shared by secular Arab states like Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt and Algeria who once stood proudly against imperialism and Gulfi barbarity. Libya which is now, hardly a state at all, also could once hold its head proudly in a broad Nasserist tradition.
Donald Trump spoke of America not wanting to lecture the Muslim world nor impose its views upon it. This particular remark should be applauded. But Trump stopped short of following his own advice. He proceeded to lecture the Muslim leaders about the dangers of Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, three organisations which unlike America and Saudi Arabia, are on the correct side of the war against Wahhabi terrorism.
If only the American people realised that Iran, while a theocracy is a place of learning, peace and cultural sophistication and if they also knew that Ba’athist Syria is a modern, free, secular, tolerant and wholesome place, they would have a very different idea about what is what in the Arab world.