President Donald Trump is answering critics who call him “anti-Islamic” by making his first trip overseas to Saudi Arabia, to meet with Arab leaders to talk about fighting the so-called Islamic State.
“It lays to rest the notion that America is anti-Muslim,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told reporters Thursday, saying it would “change the conversation with regards to America’s relationship with the Islamic world.”
After Riyadh, Trump will travel to Israel and the Vatican—a tour meant to unite the world’s great religions against radicalism and to put a marker down for restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, senior administration officials told reporters Thursday.
The trip indicates that Trump is re-aligning the White House with Saudi Arabia’s and Israel’s anti-Iran position, while the Obama administration had sought to stay more neutral in order to deliver the Iranian nuclear deal. It’s also a signal that Trump is returning to the Bush-era reliance on Sunni Arab strongmen to quell a roiling Middle East, and it’s an in-your-face rejection of critics who called him anti-Islamic.
Senior administration officials said Saudi Arabia has invited leaders who “who share the values and the ideas and the visions… President Trump shares,” to discuss how to step up the fight against the so-called Islamic State, come up with a “war plan” to fight extremism, and most of all, to plot how to counter Iran’s influence throughout the region...