by Zafar Bangash (Main Stories, Crescent International Vol. 46, No. 4, Ramadan, 1438)
It was pathetic to see the self-appointed custodian of the Two Holy Masjids and self-declared leader of the Muslim world, King Salman ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz bow and salute the Muslim-hating Donald Trump as he disembarked from the plane in Riyadh on May 20. Trump’s wife Melania and daughter Ivanka were also there. No hijab, much less niqab that Saudi women are required to wear, for these ladies. Salman even shook hands with Melania.
Short of inviting him to lead the prayers in al-Masjid al-Haram in Makkah, the Najdi Bedouins did everything else to ingratiate themselves to their American master. Salman even conferred the King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz medal, the highest civilian award, on the foulmouthed, Muslim-hating Trump. It was indeed a “special” occasion and required special acts.
The dinosaurs from Dir‘iyah were beside themselves at seeing Trump. Here was the president of the most powerful country in the world gracing them with his presence even if he had openly insulted Islam and Muslims both during the election campaign and after becoming president. He had told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in March 2016, “I think Islam hates us.” And to make sure the message was understood, he tried to ban citizens of seven Muslim majority countries from entering the US.
Long used to such insults, the Saudis dubbed the visit historic and branded it with the title, “Together We Prevail.” How could there be any togetherness between the master and his slave?
Trump’s visit was a clear violation of the Prophet’s (pbuh) hadith that there cannot be two power centers in the Arabian Peninsula. Based on their erroneous and self-serving interpretations, Bani Saud prevent ordinary non-Muslims from entering Makkah and Madinah but offer red-carpet welcome to the warmonger Trump. This, however, is nothing new for the Najdi Bedouins. They have a long history of violating Qur’anic injunctions including renaming the Arabian Peninsula “Saudi” Arabia. This is shirk.
After two days of meetings — in reality receiving pledges of loyalty from the shaky Arabian and Muslim rulers — Trump went to Israel where America’s real masters reside, then to the Vatican before joining the NATO summit in Brussels and later attending the G7 meeting in Sicily, Italy. Saudi commentators — a dim-witted lot — could not conceal their glee at the honor Trump had bestowed on them by visiting. Here at last was an American president that would save the illegitimate regimes from extinction, although according to reports (New York Times, May 18), Trump was reluctant to travel. He was consumed by scandals that have swirled around his presidency.
There was another surreal moment when the Saudis inaugurated the “International Center against Terrorism and Extremism” in Riyadh to honor Trump. The prostitutes of Paris would have more credibility if they were to open a center for fighting immorality and vice!
The Saudis threw lavish parties including a concert in Riyadh at which the American singer Toby Keith, notorious for his songs in praise of whiskey and other alcoholic beverages (the Saudis did not mind, signs of progress, one supposes!) that clearly pleased Trump. During a bilateral meeting the aged King Salman asked for help against Iran and the Saudi war on Yemen. Trump and his minions, who had already launched their rhetorical missiles at Islamic Iran before the visit, and repeated their diatribe in the President’s speech to the assembled rulers on May 21.
During a visit to Riyadh on April 19, US Defense Secretary James Mattis had declared that the “United States wants to see a strong Saudi Arabia,” adding “there is disorder wherever Iran is present.” This was followed by the gruff Secretary of State Rex Tillerson making the scandalous allegation the same day that, “Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism and is responsible for intensifying multiple conflicts and undermining US interests… A comprehensive Iran policy requires that we address all of the threats posed by Iran, and it is clear there are many.”
There was more nonsense from Trump who has a habit of making ludicrous allegations. Referring to Iran’s nuclear agreement with the P5+1 group of countries, Trump, during a meeting with visiting Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni on April 20, said, “It was a terrible agreement, it shouldn’t have been signed, it shouldn’t have been negotiated the way it was negotiated.” Perhaps he was not aware that officials in his own regime had only two days earlier formally certified Iran’s compliance with the deal.
The ill-informed Trump then blurted out something that would have embarrassed even the hardcore Washington elite. Iran, he said was not living up to its “spirit.” What? “They are not living up to the spirit of the agreement, I can tell you that.” Where did “spirit” come into the picture? Trump, however, thinks he can make things up as he goes along.
It is his terrorism charge against Islamic Iran that must be challenged. Washington is the biggest sponsor of terrorism in the world. Groups like Da‘ish and al-Qaeda exist and flourish only because the US and its allies support them. If the US were serious about fighting terrorism, Trump would have told the Najdi Bedouins directly to stop providing ideological and material support to terrorists. Saudi Arabia is a terror factory. Islamic Iran, on the other hand, is one of the few countries in the world earnestly fighting terrorism whether in Syria or Iraq. In a world dominated by gangsters and mass murderers, truth, however, is the first casualty.
While in Riyadh, Trump also met the potentates of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). There could not have been a more graphic display of dinosaurs on parade: small heads with protruding bellies and all no doubt heading for extinction. They sought Trump’s assurances that the US would keep them on their shaky thrones.
On the final day of Trump’s visit (May 21), the Saudis assembled 55 heads of state from the Muslim world to pledge loyalty to the new American warlord. Iran and Syria were not invited and even if they were, their leaders would not have joined the gathering of puppets. This was the Saudis’ way of showing they were “leaders” of the Muslim world. Why, one is forced to ask, does an assembly of heads of 55 countries need external protection? The Arabian, Asian, and African potentates prostrated to the New York property tycoon now occupying the White House. They had found their true “god” (nastaghfir-allah).
Equally bizarre was the Saudis’ distribution of what they called the ‘Riyadh declaration’. They even claimed it had been debated and approved by the assembled heads of State. When and where did such debate take place? Many of the assembled heads were surprised to hear about the so-called declaration. They heard about it from the media. There were only two speeches at the assembly: the aged king welcoming Trump and the latter pontificating about fighting terrorism.
There was much handshaking and backslapping as they sang from the same hymnbook. They pledged to “fight terrorism” (no better way to describe hypocrisy) and “protect” American interests in the region so long as they are allowed to stay in power. How can they protect American interests if they cannot protect their own seat of power? There is talk of creating “the fantasy of an Arab NATO,” as Robert Fisk wrote in the Independent (May 18). He went on, “There will be dictators aplenty to greet him in Riyadh, corrupt autocrats and thugs and torturers and head choppers.”
The big question, however, is why Trump broke with long-standing tradition by landing in Saudi Arabia ahead of any of America’s neighbors? Obnoxious to the core, Trump is a businessman. He drives hard bargains. He did not come to Riyadh because he cares for the Gulf monarchs. Trump loathes them and would not even remember the names of any of the Saudi princes he met — they all look alike and in any case, there is an army of them with strange sounding names like “bin This” and “bin That” given Trump’s low mental aptitude.
Trump, however, had a different agenda. Before embarking on this trip, his regime had already signaled it would supply $100 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia; the actual agreement turned out to be $110 billion and would reach $350 billion in 10 years, according to Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir. These are in addition to the $115 billion the Obama regime sold in his eight years in office. What use are these weapons to the Saudis whose incompetence is legendry? They are clearly meant for use against Muslims, whether in Syria or Yemen.
The Saudis asked Trump to bail them out in Yemen where the war they launched in March 2015 has gone disastrously wrong. Surrounded by warmongers, chances are Trump will oblige. He has already killed scores of innocent Yemenis including eight-year-old Nawwar al-‘Awlaqi, the daughter of Anwar al-‘Awlaqi. She was shot twice in the neck on January 30, 2017. Anwar, an American citizen, was murdered in August 2011 in Yemen by an American drone strike.
Trump came to Saudi Arabia with a twin agenda: to get the Arabian despots to purchase more weapons so that American weapon manufacturers can continue to rake in huge profits. After signing the arms deal, he blurted out, “Tremendous investments into the United States and our military community is very happy and we want to thank you.”
Second, he wants the Arabian rulers to pay for the infrastructure development of America that he promised during his election campaign. It would cost $1 trillion. He secured an immediate investment of $200 billion from the Saudis over four years. This amount will definitely increase over the years. Further, he will squeeze hundreds of billions of dollars in additional funds from the Emiratis, Qataris, and Kuwaitis. Trump is an extortionist; he knows how to squeeze money out of the illegitimate rulers in return for promises of protection.
The Arabian rulers cannot say no if they want to continue pontificating from their shaky thrones. It is a cruel (American) world.