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Trump at Saudis’ service: National Interest

Tehran, Instead of focusing on the US interests, President [Donald] Trump has been at the service of the Saudis, wrote the American bimonthly magazine, National Interest.

'When running for president, Donald Trump was no less critical of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia than he was of America's dependent Asian and European allies. It looked like bilateral relations were set to change,' Doug Bandow, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, wrote in an article titled 'The Trump Administration Should Balance Iran and Saudi Arabia', published on Sunday.

Saying that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 'deserved candidate Trump's scorn', and is 'a corrupt totalitarian state, long tied financially to terrorists', the National Interest further quoted Bandow as saying that the Saudis treat US soldiers 'as the personal bodyguards of the royals.'

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates recalled meeting with King Abdullah saying, He wanted a full-scale attack on Iranian military targets, not just the nuclear sites. This supposed friend of America was asking the United States to send its sons and daughters into a war with Iran in order to protect the Saudi position in the [Persian] Gulf and the region, as if we were mercenaries. From Riyadh's viewpoint, of course, that is precisely what Americans are.

However, Trump's first trip was to Riyadh, where he partied the night away while doing the sword dance. President Trump subsequently appeared to have fallen completely under Riyadh's spell.

Saudi Arabia is a totalitarian state. The political or religious liberty there is far less than in Iran. Only recently has the crown prince relaxed some social controls while simultaneously cracking down on critics of the monarchy, including women who campaigned for some of the policies he initiated.

Moreover, Saudi Arabia has proved to be a reckless adventurer, ever-ready to destabilize countries, launch wars, brutalize civilians, underwrite tyranny, and commit any crime to enhance his nation's influence. The attack on Yemen, to return a puppet regime to power, may be Riyadh's most irresponsible act of late. The monarchy and its allies have killed thousands of civilians and turned one of many internal Yemeni conflicts into a sectarian war, inviting Iran to intervene to bleed the kingdom.

The KSA also backed radical Islamist insurgents in an attempt to overthrow Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, essentially the same strategy which turned disastrously wrong in both Iraq and Libya. Riyadh intervened militarily to support Bahrain's authoritarian, minority Sunni monarchy against the majority Shia population. More incredibly, they even, invited Lebanon's prime minister, a sectarian ally, to Saudi Arabia only to detain him and force him to declare his resignation which he promptly rescinded once international pressure forced his release.

Although they strut about the Middle East as if Saudi Arabia was a colossus, the kingdom has proverbial feet of clay. Tens of billions of dollars in arms purchases from America have pushed the country to number three in military outlays worldwide, but the Saudi armed services are not known for their military prowess. Indeed, who wants to fight and die for a corrupt, antiquated, authoritarian monarchy? Iranian claims to represent something greater. The Saudi ruling family stands only for self-enrichment.

Yet the Trump administration seems to have anointed the monarchy as its agent. It is reminiscent of the bad old days of Iran's Shah. The United States helped install him�Iranians still remember the 1953 coup against democracy�and filled his military arsenals. He began Iran's nuclear program and pushed to expand his nation's influence, promoting his, not America's, interest. But his arrogant and criminal reign led to his downfall, and creation of the Islamist Republic.

There's no need for Washington to take sides between Iran and the KSA. Indeed, as Henry Kissinger suggested of Iran and Iraq when they ferociously battled more than three decades ago, a pity they both can't lose. If not, then better they balance one another.

However, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's speech about Iran essentially demanded the latter's surrender: accept Saudi hegemony, disarm in the face of superior Saudi military force, abandon its few regional allies, and beg for Washington's and Riyadh's mercy. Pompeo offered a deal that Tehran cannot accept, yet tailor-made for the KSA, not the United States. Why this favoritism toward the Saudi dictatorship?

The United States claims to fear Iranian dominance in the Middle East, but that neither threatens America nor is it likely.

In every case it has advanced only because of its adversaries: the United States destroyed Iraq's Sunni ruler Saddam Hussein; the United States, Saudi Arabia, and other states attempted to overthrow al-Assad, who looked to Tehran for aid; with Washington's backing Riyadh invaded Yemen, forcing Houthi rebels to seek assistance from Iran; and both Israel and America intervened in Lebanon, fostering the Shia movement Hezbollah.

Candidate Trump appeared to understand Saudi Arabia. President Trump acts like any other royal retainer, just one who happens to serve in Washington rather than Riyadh. Instead of campaigning to hand the Middle East over to Saudi royals, the Trump administration should stand for America's interests.

Source: Islamic Republic News Agency - IRNA

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