Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam and home to the religion’s two holiest sites, has long used its religious clout to project its role as a regional leader. Now that same clout has caught the kingdom in a prickly dilemma.
The monarchy’s desire to cultivate a better relationship with the Trump administration than it had with the U.S. under Barack Obama is exposing Saudi Arabia to criticism that it is unwilling to stand up for its Muslim allies, particularly those caught in an executive order that restricts entry to the U.S. for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries.
“The ban puts Saudi Arabia in an awkward position,” said Ibrahim Fraihat, a professor of conflict resolution at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies. “Saudi Arabia will be expected to take a position against it because some of the countries included in the ban like Sudan and Yemen are key allies and because it projects itself as leader of the Muslim world.”
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs didn’t respond to a request for comment.
President Donald Trump spoke on Sunday with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman about Middle East refugees, the deal to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, and improved security relations between the two countries, the White House said.
“The president requested and the King agreed to support safe zones in Syria and Yemen, as well as supporting other ideas to help the many refugees who are displaced by the ongoing conflicts,” the White House said.
A statement carried on the official Saudi Press Agency said “the view of the two leaders were identical” on issues that included confronting terrorism and extremism, along with countering “those who seek to undermine security and stability in the region and interfere in the internal affairs of other state,” a reference to Iran and to the activities of its regional proxies.
The White House also said they agreed on the “importance of rigorously enforcing” the nuclear deal Iran struck with other world powers including the U.S. in 2015. Mr. Trump and Saudi officials have repeatedly criticized the agreement, which lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.Read More...
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