Posts Tagged ‘Saudi King Salman’

A geopolitical storm in the Indian Ocean

February 9, 2018

By Ravi Velloor
The Straits Times

The Maldives, better known for its tranquil seaside resorts, is in the throes of a vicious domestic power struggle. But its troubles also reflect what happens when bigger foreign powers join the fray.

Covering the South Asian summit held on Addu atoll of the Maldives in November 2011, I walked into the breakfast room of my hotel on Gan, an island that used to be a secret airbase for the British Royal Air Force during World War II, and spotted a Chinese-looking man alone in a corner. Ignoring the beckoning calls of my Indian and Pakistani friends, I walked over to this person and asked to share his table.

It turned out that he was a junior Chinese diplomat from the embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and as we chatted, he let slip with a grin that in Male, capital of the Maldives, China was opening a brand new embassy that very day with the Maldivian foreign minister as chief guest.

Credit the Chinese for chutzpah. As India, South Asia’s dominant power, sat down with its fellow South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation nations for their annual meeting, here was Beijing opening a large mission in its backyard, the timing clearly meant as a cheeky challenge to the regional hegemon.

A little more than six years later, and with two presidential changes behind it in the meantime, the picturesque Indian Ocean nation is in the midst of one of its worst spells of turmoil as embattled President Abdullah Yameen struggles to stay in power after what seems to be a revolt by the once-pliant judiciary and senior police brass.

Two police chiefs were fired on successive days last week, a state of emergency has been declared and Singapore, China and other nations are warning their citizens to avoid the islands.

A nation of a thousand coral islands inhabited by fewer than 450,000 people, the Maldives’ political crisis has its roots in the intense Big Power play around the South Asian region. China, India, the United States and Saudi Arabia are all involved. To an extent, Sri Lanka as well because, as a close neighbour, it is often the offshore site for exiled Maldivian politicians to contact their people.

THIN-SKINNED ELITES

With the US and India increasingly coordinating policy across Asia, and Saudi Arabia’s heightened proximity with the Trump administration contributing to the rising influence of reformist Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, alliances are being redone as the tight elite in the Maldives do their sums, recalibrate and periodically circulate in power.

ST ILLUSTRATION : MANNY FRANCISCO

In shades of the politics now being witnessed in Malaysia, one of President Yameen’s fiercest critics these days is his half-brother and former mentor, Mr Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who ruled the islands from 1978 up until the first free elections in 2008. That year saw the rise to power of Mr Mohammed Nasheed, a British-educated human rights activist who spent years in Mr Gayoom’s prisons and co-founded the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

If the young island democracy has a problem, it is that its elite class is thin-skinned, untrained in sharing power and prone to high-handedness.

Mr Nasheed, despite his democratic credentials, went after a criminal court judge with whose actions he disagreed. The judge’s arrest provoked massive opposition that saw him yielding power in 2012 and, three years later, a successor government successfully tried Mr Nasheed for treason.

Sentenced to 13 years, he spent three years in jail before he was allowed to travel abroad for medical treatment. Since then he has secured political asylum in Britain and has mostly lived there since.

His former deputy and successor, Mr Mohammed Waheed Hassan of the National Unity Party, fared little better but managed to antagonise India during his 21 months in office, after he cancelled a contract to modernise Male international airport given to India’s GMR Group and instead handed it to a Chinese company. An international arbitration court in Singapore later awarded US$270 million (S$359 million) in compensation to the Indian firm.

Then came President Yameen. With none of Mr Nasheed’s personal warmth and even less tolerant of criticism, Mr Yameen had set himself up for trouble right from the start with his high-handed ways. While he does have a vision of restructuring the Maldives’ tourism-dependent economy, Mr Yameen, in trying to reduce Indian influence, fumbled his foreign policy balancing efforts.

FEAR OF CHINESE ‘PEARLS’

Last year, Saudi King Salman dropped the Maldives, a nation where 98 per cent of the people are Sunni Muslims, from an East Asian swing after Mr Yameen failed to deliver on a deal to hand an entire island to Saudi interests.

India, always prickly about its periphery and fearful it will be strategically choked in the Indian Ocean by a series of Chinese-built ports from Myanmar to the Maldives, dubbed the “string of pearls”, has watched with alarm as Beijing-linked companies snapped up infrastructure projects in the country. A recent free trade agreement with China, according to Mr Nasheed’s MDP, was controversially rammed through Parliament in less than an hour, even though the document runs into hundreds of pages.

India has a history of interfering in the internal affairs of its neighbours when it feels its critical interests are threatened. An economic blockade it imposed on Nepal in 1985 after Kathmandu awarded to China a key road-building project running along Nepal’s open border with India triggered a chain of events that ultimately saw the kingdom’s monarchy toppled.

Around the same time, the Sri Lankan government’s decision to allow Voice of America to set up a powerful transmitter in Jaffna, and to sell strategically important oil tank farms in Trincomalee to a company said to be linked to the US Central Intelligence Agency, contributed to the late Indira Gandhi’s decision to train and arm Tamil separatists. India, at the time, viewed the US with suspicion, quite unlike the tight relationship the two enjoy today. Three years ago, Indian intelligence agencies orchestrated a stunning Cabinet revolt against then President Mahinda Rajapaksa that saw off the war leader who had become a national hero for decisively quelling the long-running Tamil insurgency.

Aware of all this, Mr Yameen sent his foreign minister recently to see Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi but the fence-building effort may have come too late. This week, after Mr Yameen’s Attorney-General disregarded the Supreme Court’s midnight order to reinstate 12 opposition MPs to Parliament, triggering the current crisis, an unusually strong Indian statement said it was “imperative” that court orders be followed.

Equally interestingly, some of the most strident recent criticism of Mr Yameen has come from US Ambassador to the Maldives Atul Keshap, the US State Department and US National Security Council.

The Colombo-based Mr Keshap, who is concurrently accredited to Male, has acknowledged on Twitter that he is in touch with Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed to reiterate US support for his stand. Chief Justice Saeed and another Supreme Court judge were arrested on Tuesday and the remaining judges overturned the decision of their brother-judges subsequently.

“America stands with the people of the Maldives. The Maldivian government and military must respect the rule of law, freedom of expression, and democratic institutions. The world is watching,” the White House National Security Council said this week.

U.S.-INDIA TAG TEAM

This fits an emerging pattern of one-two punching by Washington and New Delhi. That the two also have converging views on Pakistan was seen on New Year’s Day when Mr Trump’s first tweet of 2018 lashed out at Islamabad, accusing it of “lies and deceit” in the war on Muslim terrorists. The US and India say Pakistan harbours militants in Afghanistan and Kashmir to check Indian influence in the region.

In 1989, when then President Gayoom faced a coup and reached out to the US for help, then President George H.W. Bush turned to then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who swiftly dispatched a para commando brigade and the Indian Navy to steady the situation in Male. Now again there are calls for Indian intervention, a move that would sit uncomfortably with Beijing if it feels its interests might be threatened. Times have changed.

This week, after ex-president Nasheed and respected Indian foreign affairs specialist C. Raja Mohan called on New Delhi to intervene directly in the Maldives, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang responded pointedly that “the international community should play a constructive role on the basis of respecting the Maldives’ sovereignty instead of taking measures that could complicate the current situation”.

It is not as though the Maldivians, who have been battered by the waves and the winds for centuries, were short of problems. Rising sea levels that threaten the islands’ very existence are their top long-term challenge. More immediate is rampant drug abuse and a surprise trend towards radicalisation that has seen some 200 Maldivians head to the Middle East to fight on behalf of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. For now, though, it is squarely in the eye of a geopolitical storm.

http://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/a-geopolitical-storm-in-the-indian-ocean?&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social-media&utm_campaign=addtoany

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Palestinians have right to east Jerusalem as capital: Saudi king

December 13, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | The Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque, a highly contested site at the centre of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, seen in a general view of Jerusalem on December 1, 2017

RIYADH (AFP) – Palestinians have the right to Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem as their capital, Saudi King Salman said Wednesday, echoing calls at an Islamic summit in Istanbul from which he had stayed away.”The kingdom has called for a political solution to resolve regional crises, foremost of which is the Palestinian issue and the restoration of the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights, including the right to establish their independent state with east Jerusalem as its capital,” the king said.

Salman’s address to the kingdom’s Consultative Council came as the world’s main pan-Islamic body held an emergency summit in Istanbul in response to last week’s US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The king renewed his condemnation of President Donald Trump’s decision, saying it “represents an extreme bias against the rights of the Palestinian people in Jerusalem that have been guaranteed by international resolutions”.

At Wednesday’s summit, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on the world to recognise east Jerusalem as the “capital of Palestine”, while Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas warned there could be no peace in the Middle East until such a move was made.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani — a Saudi arch foe — used his speech to make a thinly veiled jab at Washington’s Arab allies.

“Some countries in our region are in cooperation with the United States and the Zionist regime in determining the fate of Palestine,” he said.

Jordanian King Abdullah II, Lebanese President Michel Aoun, the emirs of Qatar and Kuwait and the presidents of Afghanistan and Indonesia all joined the summit.

But Saudi Arabia, which hosts the pan-Islamic bloc’s secretariat, sent only a senior foreign ministry official.

King Salman receives outgoing Lebanese premier

November 6, 2017

Saudi King Salman receives outgoing Lebanese Premier Saad Al-Hariri in Riyadh on Monday. (SPA)

Saudi King Salman receives outgoing Lebanese Premier Saad Al-Hariri in Riyadh on Monday. (SPA)
JEDDAH: King Salman received on Monday Lebanon’s outgoing Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri, who resigned on Saturday citing meddling in his country by Iran and the Hezbollah terrorist group.
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Al-Hariri said in a speech that he believed there was an assassination plot against him.
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He accused Tehran and its ally Hezbollah of sowing strife and chaos in the region.
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 http://www.arabnews.com/node/1189181/saudi-arabia

Arab Media Idolized Qatar Royals Who Left Home to Live Abroad — Both called this week to convene a meeting of the Qatari ruling family to “discuss the crisis.”

September 22, 2017

By Aziz El Yaakoubi

Saudi King Says Kingdom Has Made Progress in Tackling Terrorism — Muslim haj pilgrimage ending without incident

September 2, 2017

MECCA, Saudi Arabia — Saudi King Salman, receiving dignitaries attending the annual Muslim haj pilgrimage, said on Saturday the kingdom had made progress in eradicating terrorism aimed at attacking its holy sites, state news agency SPA reported.

Image result for Saudi King Salman, after hajj, Photos

Saudi King Salman

Saudi Arabia, which stakes its reputation on its guardianship of Islam’s holiest sites and organizing the haj, has been hit by bombings in recent years and uncovered plots to carry out attacks in Mecca.

“The limbs of terrorism have sought to harm the holy cities, paying no attention to their sanctity,” SPA quoted King Salman as telling foreign dignitaries at a reception he held in Mecca, where more than 2 million pilgrims are performing haj.

“But the kingdom, by the grace of God and in cooperation with its sisters and friends, has made big successes in eradicating terrorism and has worked decisively and with determination to dry its sources,” he added, without elaborating.

Salman also said Saudi Arabia had devoted all its material and human resources to ensure the safety of pilgrims who come from all over the world to perform the five-day ritual, a religious duty to be undertaken once in a lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford the journey.

Haj 2017

“We are determined, with God’s permission, to continue to provide the highest level of services for the two holy mosques … to ensure the safety of those who seek the sacred house of God,” he said.

The pilgrimage has frequently been hit by stampedes and fires. In the most recent incident, hundreds of pilgrims were killed in a crush two years ago.

 Image result for Mecca, Hajj, 2017, photos

(Writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

Saudi Arabia still has many cards to play in Qatar crisis

August 22, 2017

Bloomberg

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing

Saudi King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz (left ) with Qatari Shaikh Abdullah Bin Ali Al Thani in Tangier last week. SPA photo

Dubai: A little-known Qatari shaikh has been thrust into the limelight as a Saudi Arabia-led bloc tries to wring concessions from his nation to end the political feud dividing the Arabian Gulf.

Shaikh Abdullah Bin Ali Al Thani, a descendant of Qatar’s founder, was welcomed warmly in Saudi Arabia by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, then jetted off to Morocco, where Saudi King Salman hosted him at his vacation spot in Tangier. And while the Qatari government said the shaikh was on a personal visit, some media outlets close to the alliance portrayed his meetings as a triumphant diplomatic effort.

Shaikh Abdullah said King Salman and his son agreed to open Qatar’s only land border, snapped shut on June 5, to allow Muslim pilgrims to travel to the holy city of Makkah. The king even offered to dispatch planes at his own expense to fly in others and set up an operations centre under the shaikh’s command to help Qataris entangled in the crisis.

Saudi Arabia and allies that severed diplomatic and transport links with Qatar in June have denied seeking regime change in Doha, making the emergence and front-page treatment of the shaikh a surprising development. Promoting him is probably part of a plan to add pressure on Qatari ruler Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, who has refused to capitulate to the bloc’s 13 conditions for ending the feud, said Abdul Khaleq Abdullah, a political analyst in the United Arab Emirates.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt accuse Qatar of destabilising the Middle East by supporting Islamist groups.

“Saudi Arabia has many pressure tools that it hasn’t used until now and this is one of them,” Abdullah said, adding that he doesn’t believe the alliance is currently pursuing a policy to change the Qatari leadership.

Yet should Saudi Arabia decide that is needed, it can mobilise a support network within Qatari society and the ruling family “to spur a palace coup,” he said.

Al Bayan, a Dubai-owned daily, described Shaikh Abdullah on its front page as “the voice of reason to whom the hearts of Qataris have opened.”

It also said that he’s known for being “widely accepted within the Al Thani family in particular, and Qataris in general.” The shaikh is a scion of a ruling family branch that was in power for decades until 1972. His brother, Ahmad, was deposed in 1972 by Shaikh Tamim’s grandfather, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya news network said.

The shaikh’s diplomatic exploits have turned him into an instant social media celebrity. Within three days of joining Twitter, his account has attracted more than 250,000 followers. He gave out contact details of the operations center. Underscoring his reach, he said he also spoke with the Saudi central bank governor, who denied that banks in the kingdom had stopped “giving out Qatari riyals to Qatari citizens.”

“The king has honored me by accepting my mediation on behalf of my people in Qatar,” he wrote.

Other mediation efforts by Kuwait’s emir and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who visited the region last month, have failed to resolve the dispute.

Andreas Krieg, a lecturer in the department of defense studies at King’s College in London, said the shaikh is a London-based businessman with commercial interests in the Gulf, but lacks public support that would help propel him to power. His emergence, however, serves as a way of telling Qatari leaders and global powers that the crisis is far from over, he said.

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/qatar/qatar-crisis/saudi-arabia-proves-it-has-many-cards-to-play-in-qatar-crisis-1.2078080

Saudi King Calls For Arrest of Prince Seen Abusing Someone in Video

July 20, 2017

AFP

© Saudi Royal Palace/AFP/File | Saudi King Salman, pictured here in July 2017, issued an arrest warrant for a prince accused of abusing members of the public in videos that surfaced online

RIYADH (AFP) – A Saudi prince was arrested Thursday on King Salman’s order, a state-run broadcaster reported, as outrage grew on social media over videos appearing to show him abusing members of the public.Salman issued a warrant for “the immediate arrest … and imprisonment” of Prince Saud, a descendent of Saudi Arabia’s founder, along with a group of men who appeared in the videos uploaded to YouTube, Al-Ikhbariya television reported.

A video circulating on social media showed police escorting the young prince — one of the thousands of members of the royal family — out of a house in handcuffs.

The arrest came after the prince, whose face can clearly be seen in some of the videos shared via Twitter Wednesday, unleashed a wave of verbal and physical abuse on Saudis and foreigners.

“You park by my house, you … eunuch, I’ll screw your mother in her grave,” he says to a dazed driver bleeding from the mouth, his clothes splattered with blood.

“Do you understand?” he asks the man, who nods and turns away.

In another video, a man moaning and clutching his head is led out of a house with an automatic rifle pointed at his back.

The prince also pummels a man cowering in a chair who waits for him to pause and insists, “Honest to God, I didn’t do anything. I swear to God.”

The videos have sparked anger on social media, with users identifying as Saudi citizens calling for the prince to be put on trial.

“No matter who you are — prince, minister, citizen — no one is above the law,” read one tweet.

The victims in the videos will be called to testify in court, according to a royal decree carried by Al-Ikhbariya.

Saudi Arabia has one of the world’s highest rates of execution and widely imposes harsh sentences for criminal offences.

In a highly unusual case, the kingdom last year executed a prince convicted of murder.

© 2017 AFP

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Turkey sends first cargo ship with aid for Qatar

June 22, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Turkey has already sent over 100 planes with food and other aid for Qatar but this is the first time a cargo ship has embarked on the voyage to Doha
ISTANBUL (AFP) – Turkey on Thursday sent its first ship loaded with aid for its embattled regional ally Qatar which has been hit by sanctions from Gulf powers led by Saudi Arabia, state media said.

Turkey has already sent over 100 planes with food and other aid for Qatar but this is the first time a cargo ship has embarked on the voyage to Doha.

The ship left the Aegean port of Aliaga in Izmir province with around 4,000 tonnes of fruit, vegetables and other foodstuffs on board, the Anadolu news agency said. It should arrive in 10 days.

Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain broke off relations with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of supporting “terrorism”, leaving Doha economically and politically isolated.

But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan immediately vowed to support Qatar.

Ankara vehemently rejected the accusations — already strongly denied by Doha — that Qatar supports terrorism, arguing the country had been a staunch opponent of Islamic State (IS) jihadists.

Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said Wednesday that Turkey had already sent 105 cargo flights to Qatar loaded with aid to help the country through the crisis.

The crisis has put Turkey in a delicate position as Ankara regards Qatar as its chief ally in the Gulf but is also keen to maintain its improving relations with the key regional power Saudi Arabia.

Ankara has stopped short of directly criticising Saudi Arabia’s actions, merely calling on Riyadh to take a lead role in solving the crisis.

In a sign of the importance of the relations with Riyadh, Erdogan late Wednesday held phone talks with Saudi King Salman after the sudden appointment of his son Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince in place of Mohammed bin Nayef.

Erdogan also spoke with Mohammed bin Salman himself and passed on his congratulations over the move, Anadolu said.

Both sides expressed a commitment to further strengthen relations between Ankara and Riyadh and to “step up efforts” to end the tensions concerning Qatar, it added.

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Turkey had been been damaged by Riyadh’s role in the 2013 ousting of Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, a close ally of Ankara.

But ties thawed considerably after the accession of Salman to the throne in 2015, with the king warmly welcomed on visits to Turkey.

U.S. President Donald Trump Meets With Saudi King Salman — Arab-Islamic-American Summit on Fishting the Islamic State Terrorists Begins Tomorrow

May 20, 2017

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — President Donald Trump opened his first trip abroad since taking office, touching down Saturday in Saudi Arabia for a visit aimed at building stronger partnerships to combat terrorism in the region and moving past the controversies engulfing his young administration.

Trump flew to Riyadh overnight on Air Force One and was greeted by an elaborate welcoming ceremony at Riyadh’s airport, punctuated by a military flyover and a handshake from Saudi King Salman. Trump is the only American president to make Saudi Arabia, or any majority Muslim country, his first stop overseas as president — a scheduling choice designed in part to show respect to the region after months of harsh anti-Muslim campaign rhetoric.

The president’s stop in Saudi Arabia kicks off an ambitious international debut. After two days of meetings in Riyadh, Trump will travel to Israel, have an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican, and meet with allies at a NATO summit in Brussels and the Group of 7 wealthy nations in Sicily.

As he arrived, the president waved from the doorway of Air Force One and then descended the steps, joined by First Lady Melania Trump. The 81-year-old King Salman, who used a cane for support, was brought to the steps of the plane on a golf cart. The two leaders exchanged pleasantries and Trump said it was “a great honor” to be there.

Several jets then flew overhead leaving a red, white and blue trail.

White House officials hope the trip marks an opportunity for Trump to recalibrate after one of the most difficult stretches of his young presidency. The White House badly bungled the president’s stunning firing of FBI Director James Comey, who was overseeing the federal investigation into possible ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia. On Wednesday, the Justice Department relented to calls from Democrats to name a special counsel, tapping former FBI chief Robert Mueller to lead the probe.

As Trump flew to Saudi Arabia, more reports stemming from the Russia investigation surfaced. The New York Times reported that Trump called Comey “a real nut job” while discussing the ongoing investigation with two Russian officials visiting the White House earlier this month. He also told them that firing Comey had “taken off” the “great pressure” he was feeling from the investigation, the Times reported.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported that an unidentified senior Trump adviser was being considered a “person of interest” in the law enforcement investigation. In addition, Comey agreed to testify at an open hearing of the Senate intelligence committee in the near future, the panel said.

Despite his domestic troubles, Trump was expected to get a warm reception in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom’s ruling family grew deeply frustrated with former President Barack Obama’s detente with Iran and his restrained approach to the conflict in Syria. The king did not greet Obama at the airport during his final visit to the nation last year.

Saudi Arabia offered Trump an elaborate welcome ahead of his two-day stay. Billboards featuring the image of Trump and the king dotted the highways of Riyadh and lights bathed Trump’s luxury hotel in red, white and blue lights and, at times, an image of the president’s face.

Trump and the king met briefly in the airport terminal for coffee before the president headed to his hotel ahead of the day’s other meetings. White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told reporters on Air Force One that Trump spent the flight meeting with staff, working on his upcoming speech to the Muslim world and getting a little sleep.

Melania Trump wore a black pantsuit with a golden belt and did not cover her head, consistent with custom for foreign dignitaries visiting Saudi Arabia.

For a president who campaigned on an “America First” platform, the trip is a crucial moment for U.S. allies to size up his commitment to decades-long partnerships.

“President Trump understands that America First does not mean America alone,” said H.R. McMaster, Trump’s national security adviser. “Prioritizing American interests means strengthening alliances and partnerships that help us extend our influence and improve the security of the American people.”

In a sweetener for Saudi Arabia, U.S. officials said the Trump administration plans to announce $110 billion in advanced military equipment sales and training to the kingdom during the president’s trip. The package includes tanks, combat ships, missile defense systems, radar and communications and cybersecurity technology.

Trump will spend much of Saturday meeting with King Salman and other members of the royal family, culminating with a banquet dinner at the Murabba Palace. On Sunday, he’ll hold meetings with more than 50 Arab and Muslim leaders heading converging on Riyadh for a regional summit focused largely on combating the Islamic State and other extremist groups.

Trump dodged one potential land mine when Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who has been indicted on war crime and genocide charges, announced that he would not attend the summit for personal reasons.

The centerpiece of Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia will be a speech Sunday at the Arab-Islamic-American summit. White House aides view the address as a counter to Obama’s 2009 speech to the Muslim world, which Trump advisers view as too apologetic for U.S. actions in the region.

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Saudi King welcomed US President Donald Trump and the first lady upon their arrival at Riyadh’s King Khalid Airport early Saturday.

They received an elaborate welcome with trumpets, cannon and a red-white-and-blue flyover – a welcome break from the bad news that keeps on following the US President from home.

He will meet first with King Salman and other Saudi royal ministers and then sign a long-negotiated $100bn arms deal with the oil kingdom.

With a major speech to dozens of invited Arab and Muslim rulers, he hopes to “reset” relations with the Muslim world for a new global focus on the fight against Islamic terrorism.

http://beforeitsnews.com/israel/2017/05/king-salmon-greets-trump-on-arrival-in-saudi-arabia-2474228.html

Saudi king hopeful over ‘historic’ Muslim-US summit

May 15, 2017

AFP

© Saudi Royal Palace/AFP | Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, in a handout picture provided by the royal palace on April 24, 2017

RIYADH (AFP) – 

Saudi King Salman on Monday expressed hope a “historic” summit to be held Sunday between Arab and Muslim nations and US President Donald Trump will enhance ties and promote tolerance.

The summit will be one of three forums held during a visit by Trump, who is making Saudi Arabia his first overseas stop since assuming office in January.

Trump has frequently been accused of fuelling Islamophobia but aides described his decision to visit Saudi Arabia as an effort to reset relations with the Muslim world.

Along with the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), at least 18 other Muslim nations have been invited to the summit, including Turkey, Azerbaijan, Niger and Indonesia, which has the world’s largest Muslim population.

Saudi Arabia’s regional rival Iran is not invited.

Salman told a cabinet meeting in the Red Sea city of Jeddah that the meeting “comes in light of the challenges and sensitive situations that the world is going through”.

According to the official Saudi Press Agency, “he expressed his hope that this historic summit will establish a new partnership in the face of extremism and terrorism and spreading the values of tolerance and coexistence” while enhancing security.

Trump is to also hold a bilateral summit with Saudi Arabia and talks with the GCC on Saturday.

Washington and Riyadh have a decades-old relationship based on the exchange of American security for Saudi oil.

But US ties with Riyadh and its Gulf neighbours became increasingly frayed during the administration of president Barack Obama.

Saudi leaders felt Obama was reluctant to get involved in the civil war in Syria and was tilting toward Shiite-dominated Iran.

The Saudis have found a more favourable ear in Washington under Trump, who has denounced Iran’s “harmful influence” in the Middle East.