Editorial: Trump’s peace sermon


-File Photo

It is an incredible turnabout on the part of President Trump, contrasted with his anti-Muslim electoral rhetoric as the elected leader of the United States.

Not only did he open his foreign tour by visiting the most conservative Islamic state in the world, Saudi Arabia, he also impressed upon Muslim countries to drive out what he called “foot soldiers of evil.” This evil to him comprises ISIL, al Qaeda, Hezbollah and Hamas, and many others. Don’t wait for the US to crush this enemy, however. “It is for you to decide what kind of future you want for yourselves – for your country, family and children.”

He set out on the journey by first touching at Riyadh and then go on to Jerusalem and the Vatican does give his tour the touch of a pilgrimage. The White House says that President Trump’s foreign visit is “to broadcast a message of unity” to Jews, Christians and Muslims.

But some won’t agree with this: to them his perspective is not opaque enough to camouflage the outline of a new world order the United States intends imposing on the Middle East, and it is pregnant with the potential to accentuate the ensuing power struggle between Sunni and Shia states.

A case in point is Trump’s accusation that Iran provides “funds, arms and trains terrorists, militias and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region.” And his call is that “unless the Iranian regime is willing to be partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate it.” Given that moderate Hassan Rouhani, with established credentials of acting as partner with the international community by signing the nuclear deal, has won against a hardliner, such a mindset looks outlandish.

Instead of stoking the fire, Trump should have called for restraint, and if possible re-initiation of some kind of tension-reducing dialogue between the opponents across the Gulf. But Trump was in Saudi Arabia for something else, and that probably weighed heavier than any pious hope he offered to the august gathering of 30-plus Muslim leaders, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

During his visit, American companies signed contracts worth $350 billion, including a $110 billion defence purchases agreement. That would help Trump justify his electoral pledge to generate thousands of jobs for Americans. Then there is this Global Centre for Combating Terrorist Ideology which has been inaugurated in the Saudi capital by the US president.

One wonders if it is a kind of precursor for the setup that would identify targets for the Islamic Military Alliance commanded by General Raheel Sharif. One other understanding reached is to monitor the flow of finances from the Arab countries to entities the world over, some of which definitely falls into the hands of terrorists.

And also, as to what President Trump’s definition of terrorism is and if it is only the murder and mayhem wrecked by ISIL and al Qaeda, and not the barbaric Indian forces in Occupied Kashmir. -Business Recorder