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Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts? I’d Worry More About the Saudis.

May 25, 2017

Try finding photos of any of the excessive personal gifts the Saudis gave to the Trump family on Donald Trump’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia and you are likely to come up with virtually nothing. Google the necklace of precious stones and diamonds valued at $200 million, you’ll come up short. The same goes for the 25 kilo (55.1 lbs) pure gold Saudi diamond and jewel-studded sword he reportedly received, or the world’s biggest yacht which was personally gifted to him.  Just precisely how much these, and other, personal gifts the Trumps received will never probably never be known – nor are they likely to be donated – like those given to other presidents – to the National Archives.

Given Donald Trump’s plunging popularity at home in the polls, the continued Congressional investigation of his ties to the Russians that won’t go away with the shadow of impeachment proceedings hanging over him, and the fact that he needed some relief from the announcement of his budget to Congress which axes social programs, government regulation to a degree never seen in American history, the president needed something – anything – to counter the storm of protest he and his advisers very well-known was in the offing.

He needed a win, proof that he could follow through on his campaign pledges to strengthen the economy and – whatever this might mean – to “make America great again.” For that a little help – or a lot of help – from foreign friends was needed. Having so few that are in a position to help him out of his current dilemma (otherwise known as possible impeachment) he turned to one country where he could be confident that his visit would not provoke angry demonstrations, Saudi Arabia. If a person can get 100 lashes just for writing a mildly critical blog, imagine the fate of those who might dare to stand on the streets of Riyadh with placards critical of Trumpty-Dumpty? Saudi was the perfect place, in fact, the only place, where Donald Trump could count on a warm welcome.

But like most everything else the Saudi’s do, their welcome to Donald Trump was overdone, excessive in its lavishness to such a degree that it was, in a word, nauseating, a circus. I’ll deal with the military and political agreements signed elsewhere (in an extensive interview done with Ibrahim Kazerooni and myself on KGNU  May 23, 2017) but for now I want to focus in on the more personal exchanges that the Trump visit to Saudi Arabia entailed.

Left out of the mainstream media reports in the United States – or hardly mentioned – is the fact that during his visit to Saudi Arabia, President Donald Trump, not only signed extensive agreements with the Saudis but that he and his family were showered with personal gifts. Whatever their ultimate value, the Saudis admitted that  these gifts are the most expensive in their country’s history.  The exact value of the personal gifts offered to the Trumps is hard to calculate, but several sources place the combined value somewhere between $1-1.4 billion. The mainstream media in the United States did report that Trump received a gold medal, placed around his neck as he knelt before the Saudi King, but that is chicken feed compared to the rest of the package.

What’s all this extravagance, lavishness about for the U.S. president?

Not complicated really – it’s a rather crude effort  – no, extraordinarily crude effort – to buy political support from the president, to cement his cooperation and leadership in leading an anti-Iranian coalition – the so-called “Arab NATO” in overthrowing the current Iranian government. There is nothing new about the Saudis buying influence, either domestically, regionally or internationally. They’ve been doing it since the end of World War II through the decades. The only difference this time, is in the size of the gifts granted, meant to tie the United States ever more closely to Saudi regional hegemonic goals after Barack Obama strayed (just the slightest bit) by signing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, more commonly known as the Iran Nuclear Deal). Iran’s increasing influence in the Middle East is at the expense of Saudi (and Israeli) regional hegemony.

What’s $ 1 billion worth of personal gifts if they can buy influence. Isn’t that  what American corporate and financial interests do – as well as pretty much all foreign governments, big and small – do both in Washington?

Ignored in the US, but reported widely in the Arab media, the personal gifts the Saudis showered upon the Trumps are the “largest gifts granted by Saudi  Arabia to a foreign  President.” The Saudi king had insisted that these gifts are for  Donald Trump personally, and not to be placed in museums America, but are to be his personal property. The gifts accorded Donald Trump and his family – for personal use, against U.S. law – include the following:

  • Rare and expensive precious stones and diamonds.
  • A rare pistol of pure gold with a picture of King Salman bin Abdul Aziz on the handle.
  • A sword of pure gold, weighing more than 25 kg (55.1 pounds) of gold studded with diamond and rare stones worth more than $ 200 million (so he can continue with his interest in sword dancing)
  • 25 pieces of jewelry made of  diamonds and gold for Trump and his family, valued at about $ 200 million.
  • More than 150 watches with gems for him and his family in different sizes; they will be shipped off the US presidential plane to Washington.
  • A miniature statue of the American Statue of Liberty made of gold, diamonds, rubies will be produced It will be transferred in a private cargo plane to the White House and US President Trump.
  • A yacht worth $ 800 million length of 125 meters, is the longest yacht in the world, especially for personal use. It featuring 80 rooms with 20 suites, a royal and most of its components of pure gold; it will be transferred back to the United States by the US Navy.

In addition, the Saudis have committed to carve a  statue of Trump to be displayed in Riyadh which will be placed on Riyadh’s largest street, itself to be named for Trump in appreciation for the United States  confronting Iran and its allies.

But did the gifts given include Saudi sword dancing lessons for the President and his Secretaries of State and Commerce, who were having troubles keeping is step?




2 Comments leave one →
  1. kerim permalink
    May 25, 2017 12:20 pm

    A strange world we’re living in, Rob .
    Some folks are literally ” a Pound foolish and a Penny wise ” . Such a generosity, on this scale is absurd . It looks to me, more like a bribery offer, Trump could never refuse !!!

    P.S : Jim Nelson’s Hemispheres, is a great show . I tune in every now and then . Pleasure hearing Ibrahim and you, brainstorming on a number of issues .

  2. Sergio Atallah permalink
    May 25, 2017 11:26 pm

    Trump supporters must be ecstatic! (trickle down economics and all)

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