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The Trump Circus in Saudi Arabia – Milking The Saudi Cash Camel – 1

June 5, 2017

Bahrain Protests. In the aftermath of the Trump visit to Saudi Arabia, in neighboring Bahrain, home of a major U.S. naval base, repression against the democratic movement has intensified…

We began to hear murmurs within the Trump Administration during the time that he was giving that short speech in Riyadh – the most profitable speech ever given in the history of humanity up until now, we don’t know what will happen later. For saying a few words that the Saudi’s wanted to hear – and I will explain shortly why these words were critical for the Saudis – identifying Iran as the source of trouble and identifying Hezbollah, Hamas and a few others as terrorist organizations – as well as calling for regime change in Syria and Iran – this pleased the Saudis who reciprocated with a big economic package.

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Part Two

Part Three

Transcript: Part One.  KGNU – Boulder – May 23, 2017. Hemispheres – Middle East Dialogues

Jim Nelson: The evening Ibrahim (Kazerooni) and Rob (Prince) will be discussing the U.S.-Saudi relationship in relation to the recent visit of U.S. President Donald Trump to that country.

Ibrahim Kazerooni: Money, money, money! It’s so funny.

Rob Prince: Yes, follow the money!

Jim Nelson: As many of our listeners know, the President has spent the last few days in the Middle East, for the last few days in Saudi Arabia.

Rob Prince: Learning how to sword dance

Jim Nelson: From Saudi, he moved on to Israel and the Palestinian Territories. What surprised me is the way that the close relationship between Saudi Arabia and Israel, how they share information and so forth. I wasn’t surprised to hear that because I moderate program – and you two have repeatedly emphasized the strategic alliances between the two countries, especially concerning Iran and the recently completion of the nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) and their (Israel and Saudi Arabia’s) opposition to wanting that deal to go forward. But it has not been mentioned very much in the mainstream media.

Anyway, please begin with your commentary

Rob Prince: Let me begin by telling you what we hope to accomplish tonight.

What we want to talk about is: What happened of substance on President Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Ibrahim will begin by examining how Trump’s journey is viewed in the Middle East itself. Then I’m going to comment upon domestic political considerations, why it was that our President and his little entourage chose these countries and this particular moment to make his first foreign trip.

Ibrahim, let me ask you to start off, besides the President learning how to sword dance in Saudi Arabia, am I correct that he was also given a golden sword as a personal gift because he danced so well? There were many incidents in the visit that the media focused upon on the trip that can be considered rather trivial. In our usual fashion, why don’t we try to get down to the essence of the visit beyond the symbols and little personal gaffs: What happened? What deals were cut? What did the trip accomplish? What did it hope to accomplish? And the key question, does the trip represent some kind of shift in U.S. Middle East policy from the way that the Obama Administration conducted it to the way that the Trump Administration’s policy is shaping up?

Why don’t you begin addressing some of these questions.

Ibrahim Kazerooni: Rob, I’m glad that you started with his personal gifts. As a rule of thumb I calculated that what he got from this trip is over $1.2 billion in gifts.

Rob Prince: This is just in personal items to him and his family? What are you referring to besides “the golden sword?”

Ibrahim Kazerooni: A $200 million necklace, specially made with precious jewels. Then there was the 25 kilo (55.1 pound) pure gold sword. There was a small revolver – eighty years old – which belonged to one of the ancestors of the dumb Saudi so-called king, also made of pure gold. There were all kinds of watches and jewelry for the entire family.

Just to sweeten the whole thing, a yacht valued at $800 million given personally to Donald Trump which is supposed to be returned to the United States by the U.S. Navy.

Ibrahim Kazerooni: Rob, I’m glad that you started with his personal gifts. As a rule of thumb I calculated that what he got from this trip is over $1.2 billion in gifts.

Rob Prince: This is just in personal items to him and his family? What are you referring to besides “the golden sword?”

Ibrahim Kazerooni: A $200 million necklace, specially made with precious jewels. Then there was the 25 kilo (55.1 pound) pure gold sword. There was a small revolver – eighty years old – which belonged to one of the ancestors of the dumb Saudi so-called king, also made of pure gold. There were all kinds of watches and jewelry for the entire family.

Just to sweeten the whole thing, a yacht valued at $800 million given personally to Donald Trump which is supposed to be returned to the United States by the U.S. Navy.

Rob Prince: Was this reported in the Arab news because virtually none of appeared in the mainstream media here?

Ibrahim Kazerooni: All over. And as a result, the Saudis are becoming a laughing-stock particularly when you compare and contrast this with Trump’s visit to Israel where at Ben Gurion Airport, you have seven small chairs, a small piece of carpet and a few bottles of water. That was it.

It has become an issue, literally, other than the media in Saudi Arabia where they don’t want to say anything, in the rest of the Muslim world they have been talking about it – even in Turkey, U.S. ally, they have been talking about this extravagant, lavish expenditure at a time when the Saudis are going through a serious economic crisis.

If you add everything together, (the military sales, promised investments in U.S. equities) the amount of money the Saudis have spent on this trip to strengthen their ties with Washington adds up to more than $500 billion. Literally the Saudi cash cow was milked to the maximum possible.

But leaving aside the issues of the gifts, personal business contacts aside, I believe we have to address this visit from various angles.

Number one: The trip was done for domestic purposes. At a time when there was so much talk about possible impeachment along with Trump’s relationship with Putin and the Russians, suddenly, with this trip, the entire narrative of impeachment and the Putin connection was eclipsed by the fact that “Caesar is returning from the Middle East successfully with a huge amount of money for the American workers and American industry, which no sector of the American economy other than the military industry is going to benefit from.

If you look at history, it reveals a number of times – we saw it with Bush, Clinton, even Mrs. Thatcher – that once they become embroiled in domestic troubles, they become the subject of criticism and the criticism became intense enough to threaten their legitimacy with public reaction building to such a point that it was imminent, they took matters outside of domestic spheres and began military action or war, which is little more than a red herring to deflect the opposition.

Rob Prince: There is one other issue involved Ibrahim, which I’ll get into some detail later: it is the fact that Trump was out of the country when his budget, which was announced today, was made public with its horrific cuts in social programs combined with expanding the military budget. It served a number of purposes for Trump to be abroad during this period of time.

Ibrahim Kazerooni: Yes there is a domestic component to this trip that needs to be analyzed but it is the regional and global components of the trip which are of critical importance.

Number two: If you remember, around the end of the Obama presidency – you are correct that comparing and contrasting Obama and Trump’s approach gives us some kind of perspective – we began to notice what Obama stated in his West Point speech unfolding. Afterwards the newspapers jumped on it as the Obama Doctrine.

The Obama Doctrine retained and kept in tact the goal of U.S. dominance of the Middle East but there was a slight change in tactics. Instead of direct military involvement in the Middle East (as in Iraq), the United States would support regional allies to perform security roles. In the case of the Middle East it was the Saudis and Israelis – and to a degree Turkey – who were tapped to play that role with the financial help of various parties, the Emirates, to do the dirty work. The role of the United States in this plan was to provide them guidance and weapons.

Immediately after the West Point speech, the Saudis went into Yemen as well as intensifying their efforts in Syria to destabilize the government to bring down Bachar al Assad, as well as in Bahrein and other places.

Rob Prince: Another consequence of this shift was the Iran Deal which began to take shape in the aftermath of the West Point speech.

Ibrahim Kazerooni: Exactly.

For Obama because his focus and attention was not the Middle East, but instead the Far East – China and East Asia – Obama decided to make a few deals with the Russians and the Iranians to recognize the role of Iran as a component for resolving conflict in the region which allowed the Nuclear Deal and the partial improving of relations with Iran to take place. This gave some breathing space to the Iranians. Secretly, they worked with the Obama Administration – as well as with the Chinese and the Russians – to try to resolve the Syrian crisis.

Unfortunately with Trump a u-turn has taken place. Instead of continuing the Obama approach of focusing American strategic energies on the Far East, China and Russia, Trump as returned to focusing on the Middle East again.

Where it concerns the Middle East, instead of coming up with some kind of new paradigm, new approach, new language to address the region’s crises, Trump has gone back and fallen back into the old Netanyahu approach that Iran has to be regarded as the only culprit regarding terrorism and the source of terrorism, etc. etc. If it means going back on some part of the agreement with the nuclear issue, Trump is willing to go back and renegotiate.

We began to hear murmurs within the Trump Administration during the time that he was giving that short speech in Riyadh – the most profitable speech ever given in the history of humanity up until now, we don’t know what will happen later. For saying a few words that the Saudi’s wanted to hear – and I will explain shortly why these words were critical for the Saudis – identifying Iran as the source of trouble and identifying Hezbollah, Hamas and a few others as terrorist organizations – as well as calling for regime change in Syria and Iran – this pleased the Saudis who reciprocated with a big economic package.

To be continued.

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