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After Mideast, President Trump calls on Pope Francis at the Vatican!

After Mideast, President Trump calls on Pope Francis at the Vatican!

-Dr. Abdul Ruff

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One gets the impression that US President Donald Trump could lead his nation and world at large to a new world without conflicts. However, if he misleads the world by his mischief as a usual US leader, then,  like his predecessors have done before him, would betray the humanity beyond Mideast and the  humanity would be  the silent victim to  war mongers and looters.

US President Donald Trump has met Pope Francis on May 24 morning at the Vatican for a short private audience on the third leg of his overseas trip before going to Europe to conclude his madden tour as the custodian of White House. Trump is now due to meet Italy’s president and prime minister. He will then fly to Brussels for a NATO summit.

The US President arrived for the meeting along with his wife Melania, daughter Ivanka and Jewish son-in-law Jared Kushner after their visit to Israel. The meeting was keenly awaited as the two men have already clashed at a distance on issues including migration and climate change.

Trump and his entourage arrived at the Vatican n the morning just before 08:30 local time; the meeting was arranged last minute which resulted in the early start time. The US president was greeted by Archbishop Georg Ganswein, the head of the papal household, and escorted by the Swiss Guard from the Vatican courtyard to the offices of Pope Francis. Journalists who covered the initial greeting said the pair were cordial with each other. Trump told the Pope “it is a great honour”. The two men spoke privately for about 20 minutes before returning to a public arena to exchange gifts.

Though this is their first meeting, they’ve already sparred. During the election the Pope on a visit to the Mexico-US border said that people who only think of building walls instead of bridges were not Christians. Donald Trump described those comments as disgraceful, and accused the pontiff of being a pawn of the Mexican government. But on Wednesday both men were seeking to find common ground.

It is hard to think of two more contrasting characters than Pope Francis and President Trump. On one hand, the Jesuit who has made his mission the championing of the poor and dispossessed; on the other the property developer who has championed getting rich, and surrounded himself with billionaires in his cabinet. Interestingly, Trump gave the Pope a boxed set of writings by the black civil rights leader Martin Luther King. The Pope gave Trump a signed copy of a message he delivered for World Peace Day, along with some of his writings about the need to protect the environment. “Well, I’ll be reading them,” Trump told him.

Trump seemed subdued during their initial meeting, while Pope Francis was not as jovial as he sometimes is with world leaders. The two men appeared much more relaxed at the end of their 30-minute private meeting. He was granted a short private audience with the head of the Catholic Church on the latest leg of his overseas trip. The two men have in the past clashed on issues such as migration, climate change and a Mexico-US wall. On international affairs, their “exchange of views” covered the “promotion of peace in the world through political negotiation and interreligious dialogue”, and highlighted the need to protect Christian communities in the Middle East.

The Vatican said later that they shared a commitment to “life, and freedom of worship and conscience” and expressed hope that they can collaborate “in service to the people in the fields of healthcare, education and assistance to migrants”.

 

 

Saudi Arabia and Iran

Trump vowed to help Israelis and Palestinians achieve durable peace, as he ended the Middle East leg of his tour. The US leader began his foreign trip with a two-day stop in Saudi Arabia over the weekend, urging Muslim countries to take the lead in combating radicalization.

Western powers make maximum benefits of the illogical Saudi-Iran rift.

After the first leg of his trip in Saudi Arabia, President Trump seems to hope that Sunni Arab countries might be part of any solution between Israel and the Palestinians.  Without doubt the Saudis and the Israelis are talking, because Iran is their shared enemy. But the Saudis have had their own Arab peace plan on the table for the last 15 years, offering full peace and recognition of Israel in return for the establishment of a Palestinian state on the entire territory of the West Bank and Gaza with its capital in East Jerusalem. That is something the current Israeli government is not prepared to concede.

Antipathy towards Iran is the one thing that Washington’s disparate allies in the region agree upon. So, bashing of Tehran has been a prominent theme for Trump both in Saudi Arabia and now in Israel. Hostility to Iran is the glue that binds what some would like to believe is an emerging coalition between Israel, Saudi Arabia and the smaller Gulf States together. But how far it really promises to shake up the sterile politics of the region is unclear.

A common purpose to contain Iran is one thing but can it really extend to bringing a new diplomatic dawn to the region? For Trump, criticising Tehran performs multiple functions. It allows him to sound tough on the world stage. Tougher than his predecessor, Barack Obama, who, he believes, signed one of the worst deals in history in reaching the nuclear accord with Iran.

It enables him to reassure both the Gulf Arabs and Israel at one and the same time. And it underscores the narrative of a common front emerging in the region that – at least according to the Trump administration – holds the enticing promise of a new dynamic in the log-jammed struggle between Israel and the Palestinians. And, of course, it also sends a warning signal to Tehran about aspects of its policy in the region that Washington sees as contrary to US interests.

It is also not a policy of nuance or one that contends with complex reality. How does it look providing ringing endorsements to the Saudis and selling them a fortune of weaponry, when they are engaged in a brutal war in Yemen?

The Trump government’s almost brash belief in the possibilities of a wider Middle East peace seems to be at variance with most experts who know the region well. They argue neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians are ready to make the hard compromises necessary to achieve a lasting peace.

Some have argued that rather than focusing on a comprehensive deal that would have to resolve the hard questions like Jerusalem and refugees, the goal should be less ambitious; an interim deal that might mark the re-starting of a longer term diplomatic process. But it is not clear yet if the new US administration has the patience for this kind of worthy diplomacy. And this brings us back to Iran. Just what is the Trump administration’s policy towards Tehran?

Indeed the re-election of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani may complicate matters further. He was perceived as the more moderate candidate after all, even if the Supreme Leader and the Revolutionary Guard still retain a key grip on foreign policy.

President Rouhani is already encouraging some European politicians to talk of the search for an opening to Tehran. That may not go down well in Washington. But then there is the very complexity of the region that Trump’s rhetoric often overlooks.

Interestingly, the Iraqi government is now one of Washington’s main allies against so-called Islamic State. But Iran too is a strong supporter of Baghdad and has deployed militia forces and advisers on the ground to aid the war effort.

 

Dealmaker’s hopes

 

President George W Bush sponsored a peace conference in Annapolis in 2007, which for a while was hailed, in vain, as a major step towards the establishment of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel. President Bill Clinton presided over the moment in 1993 at the White House when Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin exchanged a historic handshake and signed the Oslo peace agreement. At the end of his presidency in 2000, a make or break summit failed and was followed by years of violence and unrest. In recent times every American president also brings with him new hopes and fears for Israelis and Palestinians.  In 2009 President Barack Obama trying to re-set relations with Arabs and Muslims. In the process he alienated Israelis and its leaders never forgave him. His first act as president was to appoint a Middle East envoy whose peace mission, in the end, failed.

Nobel foundations have played mischief by offering Obama the coveted Nobel Peace prize even before he could do nay thing meaningful in his presidency in the proper way. Nobel committee denied any chance for Middle East peace by almost imposing on him Peace Award that made him ineffective in solving the Mideast puzzle by establishing Palestine. Perhaps had he not got the Nobel Peace Award, Palestine would have become a sure reality as he supported the Palestine cause towards the end of tenure at White House. .

Now President Trump, who sees himself as the world’s best dealmaker, says he would like to pull off the world’s toughest deal. How quickly Trump would be able to get Israeli leadership on board to settle the world’s deadliest conflict in the name of Israel war on Palestine would determine the success of his efforts to end the blood bath in Palestine where Palestinians have been facing cruelty form Zionist military.  .

The US leader began his foreign trip with a two-day stop in Saudi Arabia over the weekend, urging Muslim countries to take the lead in combating radicalization. In his final speech, at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, President Trump also identified himself, his government and the USA four-square with Israel. He repeated, to lots of applause, that he would never let Iran have nuclear weapons. Israel has a substantial -illegally obtained from USA – and officially undeclared nuclear arsenal.

 

Trump became the first serving American president to visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the holiest place where Jews can pray. That is being taken by Jews as his support for Israel. Trump became the first serving American president to visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the holiest place where Jews can pray. That is being taken as support for Israel. The wall is in East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed after it was captured 50 years ago and which most of the world outside Israel regards as occupied land. Some will interpret the fact that the president declined the Israeli prime minister’s request to accompany him as a sign of support for the status quo view that it is occupied territory.

President Trump, in his speech, did not pick up the cue. After making many warm remarks about Israel, which earned him standing ovations, he said he believed that the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, was serious about making peace.

One pointer to a potential difference with Israel’s hawkish PM Netanyahu came at the museum. In his opening remarks, Netanyahu said that if the bomber in Manchester was Palestinian, and his victims were Israelis, the Palestinian Authority would be paying a stipend to his family. He was referring to a Palestinian Martyrs’ fund. It pays pensions to people it regards as victims of the occupation, including the families of individuals who have been killed attacking Israelis. There is also a fund to support Palestinians who have been imprisoned by Israel. The Palestinians have compared the payments to the salaries Israel pays to soldiers.

Senior Israeli politicians and officials in the room disagree. Netanyahu said earlier this year that President Abbas lied to Donald Trump when they met in the White House. That is an important disagreement. If President Trump’s hopes ever become negotiations about substance he will find that there are many others. The two sides are far apart on the main issues, like the future of east Jerusalem, the borders of a Palestinian state and the fate of Palestinian refugees.

President Trump brought with him to Jerusalem most of his top advisers, dozens of vehicles and his own helicopters. The White House booked the entire King David Hotel for the president and his entourage. The Israeli and Palestinian authorities cleared the main roads of Jerusalem and Bethlehem for the movements of his armed and mighty motorcade.

NATO

 

President Donald Trump has arrived in Brussels ahead of a NATO summit where he will push the security alliance’s 28 members to meet their spending obligations and do more to combat terrorism.  The fight against terrorism will be top of the agenda at the May 25 meeting in the Belgian capital, a stop on Trump’s first trip abroad since he took office in January.

It is believed that the bombing in Britain that killed 22 people has been engineered to further strengthen the NATO and its brand state terrorism encompassing Islamic world. The whole idea for all this is to brand Islam a terrorist religion and to force  Islamic regimes to kill Muslims as terrorists in order to reduce Islamic populations and loot their resources, valuable assets. . . . .

This is Trump’s first visit to Europe since taking office in January. Security has been stepped up across Rome, with the areas around the Vatican City, the Italian presidential palace and the American ambassador’s residence, where Trump is staying, temporarily closed to traffic.

Trump called NATO “obsolete” during the US presidential campaign last year, saying it was not doing enough to fight terrorism. He has also chided some members for not following NATO guidelines on spending. This visit will be about damage limitation with the fervent hope of establishing some kind of transatlantic chemistry.  The tone in Brussels has gone from off-the-record sneering when the erratic and unpredictable Trump first won the November elections, to outright concern now that the implications of his presidency have begun to sink in.

 

Despite the heavy police presence, about 100 anti-Trump protesters held a rally in one of Rome’s squares on Tuesday evening. Significant protests are also expected in Brussels where he will meet EU and NATO officials.

Trump is now in Brussels for talks with NATO and EU officials. He will also hold meetings with Belgium’s King Philippe and Prime Minister Charles Michel. Later on Wednesday, Trump flew to Brussels, where significant protests are expected. For the EU and for NATO, this visit is about damage limitation with the fervent hope of establishing some kind of transatlantic chemistry, the BBC’s Europe editor Katya Adler says. She adds that the tone in Brussels has gone from off-the-record sneering when the erratic and unpredictable Trump first won the November elections, to outright concern now that the implications of his presidency have begun to sink in.

After his visit to Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest sites, and to Israel, this is the final leg of the tour of three of the world’s major religions. President Trump’s commitment to fighting extremism and intolerance will win approval from the Pope, as will his determination to bring peace to the Middle East. And the president thinks there’s another reason why they will get on. Back in 2013 he tweeted: “The new Pope is a humble man, very much like me.”

Trump was joined not only by his wife, daughter and son-in-law but also Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser HR McMaster. Both Melania and Ivanka Trump were dressed in black with their heads partially covered, in keeping with a traditional Vatican protocol that is no longer expected to be rigorously observed. Melania, a Catholic, asked the Pope to bless her rosary beads.

Following his visit to the Vatican, Trump was moving on for talks with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni in what is his first visit to Europe since taking office in January. Security has been stepped up across Rome, with the areas around the Vatican City, the Italian presidential palace and the American ambassador’s residence, where Trump is staying, temporarily closed to traffic. Despite the heavy police presence, about 100 anti-Trump protesters held a rally in one of Rome’s squares.

After the meeting between President Trump and the Pope, the Vatican said there had been an “exchange of views” on international issues, while Trump said they had had a “fantastic meeting”. Trump also tweeted: “Honor of a lifetime to meet His Holiness Pope Francis. I leave the Vatican more determined than ever to pursue PEACE in our world.” He arrived in Europe from Israel and the Palestinian territories, where he vowed to try to achieve peace in the region.

 

Observation

 

Today the world is at a cross roads. Palestinians and Kashmiris like other oppressed nations, brutally occupied colonist and imperialist regimes, continue to be strangled to death by democracy militaries aided by high precision terror equipment. President Trump has given a new hope for the survival of occupied masses with some dignity. . Whether or not he could be trusted remains a trillion dollar question.

. .

Enemies of Islam have succeeded creating a solid wedge between Saudi Arabia and Iran and through that a vertical split in Islamic world. That trend may not end any soon because Saudi led Sunni Arab states view Iran as their worst foe- even worse than Israel and all anti-Islamic rogue states operating in coalition to destroy Islam. Interestingly, a few Muslim regimes also led support to the destructive format of anti-Islamic forces globally.

Absolute foolishness and fatal ignorance are not a part of Islamic faith. Nor reluctance to mold the mindset of Arab leaders could be an excuse to let the enemies of Islam invade energy rich Arab world.

Donald Trump deserves global appreciation as he has said he is “more determined than ever” to pursue peace in the world after meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican.

The main problem is Israel does not want to resolve the conflict.   Trump is right on one point. This is a conflict that badly needs settling. If that is not possible, there needs to be political progress. History shows that bloodshed tends to fill the void left by the absence of hope.

Well, for all the rhetoric the practical reality of Trump’s foreign policy is more guarded. So beyond a raft of trade deals in Saudi Arabia what have we really learnt so far. All the indications are, for example, that the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem has been put on hold.

US Presidents have never talked about Zionist nukes and their danger posed to the humanity. Trump also never questioned the validity of Isabel possessing nukes illegally. For all of the president’s repeated condemnation of the Iran nuclear deal, is he really capable of walking away from it?

A Trump foreign policy is still very much a work in progress. Much of Trump’s world view is now coming into a jarring contact with reality.  This current trip is in large part ceremonial, it is very early in his presidency to be putting a toe into Middle Eastern waters.

In all the speeches President Trump made during the trip there was no detail about how he might succeed when so many others have failed. So signs and symbols and implicit messages are being pored over for meaning.

This is President Donald Trump’s first foray to the Middle East and of course it will not be his last. He has already got one thing clear. Adversity really does make strange bedfellows.

Trump will end his tour on the Italian island of Sicily at the G7 summit on Friday.

Trump to go all out for Middle East peace!

Trump to go all out for Middle East peace!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
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US President Donald Trump who is touring Middle east region and has arrived in Palestine after visiting Saudi Arabia and Israel, has said he will “do everything” to help Israelis and Palestinians achieve peace. This is the last day of the US president’s shuttle diplomatic effort visit to the Middle East.

Israel and the Palestinians have not held peace talks for three years and Trump acknowledges it would be “one of the toughest deals of all” to broker. At talks with Mahmoud Abbas, he spoke of being gratified that the Palestinian leader had committed to taking necessary steps to peace.

Abbas welcomed Trump’s “noble and possible mission”. “I would like to reiterate our commitment to co-operate with you in order to make peace and forge an historic peace deal with the Israelis,” he said.

Feeling satisfied with his maiden trip to Mideast, Trump said: “I am committed to trying to achieve a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians…And I intend to do everything I can to help them achieve that goal. He added the president of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas had assured him he was “ready to work towards that goal in good faith”, and that Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu had promised the same.

President Obama, the recipient of Nobel Peace Award on his assuming power at the White House did nothing valuable to bring the Israeli leadership to agree for a final settlement so that Palestinians could establish their own state, Palestine, with dignity and full sovereignty.

Trump said he had come to Bethlehem, where the meeting with Mr Abbas was held on Tuesday morning, “in a spirit of hope”. In both Gaza and the occupied West Bank, some Palestinians have held protests against the trip and in support of a hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Hundreds of stone-throwing youths clashed with Israeli soldiers firing tear gas and rubber bullets.

In fact, Palestinians do not trust US leaders much because they always support Israeli regime and military and order the supply of terror goods to Israel for killing the Palestinians. At least one Palestinian was injured at the Qalandia checkpoint near Jerusalem. In the Gaza Strip, other Palestinians trampled photos of the US leader. Hundreds of jailed Palestinians have been on hunger strike since 17 April. Activists were hoping to hold up protest banners in Bethlehem on Tuesday to make Trump aware of the action.

Speaking in Jerusalem on Monday, Trump played political music for the criminal minded Jews who want to kill all Palestinians and take away their lands as well by saying that Iran would never have nuclear weapons and accused it of supporting “terrorists”. “Iran will never have nuclear weapons, that I can tell you,” Trump told fanatic Netanyahu. . In return, Netanyahu extolled the US president’s leadership.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani played down Trump’s strong criticism of Iran at a summit in Saudi Arabia at the weekend, saying: “Who can say regional stability can be restored without Iran?”

Speaking to Netanyahu on Monday, Trump sought to dispel suggestions that he had passed on sensitive Israeli intelligence to Russian diplomats at a recent meeting, saying he had not mentioned the word “Israel” at the meeting.
However, many Palestinians on both sides look forward to Trump’s promote action to make Israel listen to reason and promptly deliver justice to them.

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On Monday, Trump said he had come to “reaffirm the unbreakable bond” between the US and Israel and that there was a “rare opportunity to bring security and stability and peace” to the region.

President Trump flew to Tel Aviv direct from Saudi Arabia, where at a summit on Sunday he urged Arab and Muslim leaders to work together to “drive out” terrorist extremists.

Trump also said that he was “gratified” that PLO leader Abbas had attended the summit in Riyadh and “committed to taking firm but necessary steps to fight terrorism and confront its hateful ideology”. “Peace can never take root in an environment where violence is tolerated, funded and even rewarded,” he added, apparently referring to payments made by the PA to the families of Palestinian prisoners and those killed in the conflict with Israel.

Israel had been pestering Trump to visit Israeli Holocaust memorial and so later on Tuesday Trump returned to Jerusalem, visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. And in a speech later at the Israel Museum, he reaffirmed that his administration would always stand with Israel.

Trump said his trip was “focused on bringing nations together”, adding that the Palestinians were “ready to reach for peace”.

President Trump sees himself as a great dealmaker, with the personality to cut through the difficulties that have defeated lesser people. The only credible ideas still require the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state alongside Israel. The reality is that the Israelis and Palestinians are way apart on the main issues – the future of east Jerusalem, the fate of Palestinian refugees and the borders of an independent Palestine. The two sets of leaders also do not trust each other. Israeli fanaticism and mischief have always derailed the peace talks so far.

The arrival of Donald Trump in the White House was greeted by the Israeli right with enthusiasm. They believe that it heralds a new era of settlement expansion in the occupied territories. The Israeli government appeared to think so too, welcoming Trump’s victory with the announcement of permits for new housing units in both East Jerusalem and the West Bank, thereby further complicating any peace deal with Palestine. .

The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, has been occupied by Israel for 50 years. Some of the most influential members of the Israeli government believe the land is a Jewish possession, given by God as a free gift for their crimes in past and future. . .

The Palestinians are deeply divided, with Fatah in charge in the West Bank and in Gaza the Islamists of Hamas, who have been condemned by President Trump in the last few days as terrorists.

It is highly unlikely that even President Trump’s outsized personality will be enough, on its own, to end a conflict that has lasted more than a century. Making this deal is not about fixing a price – it is about reconciling enemies with radically different world views.

Palestine has achieved nationhood from UN but without voting power and it is going to get that too shortly. Towards the end of his presidency Obama supported the cause of Palestinians indirectly.

Trump is expected to pursue the cause further so that Palestine comes into existence sooner than later. .

Trump has now flown to Rome ahead of a meeting with Pope Francis. On Wednesday he will continue to Brussels to see NATO leaders. On Friday, he will return to Italy to meet other world leaders at a G7 summit in the Sicilian town of Taormina, where climate change is expected to be discussed.

Now the ball is in Trump’s court. One can only watch with fingers crossed as to what exactly Trump would do to achieve peace in Mideast.

Can Trump make Israel become a normal state to able to successfully negotiate peace deals?

Meanwhile, it is indeed gratifying that President Trump has sworn to achieve peace in Mideast by helping with the establishment of Palestine which is being delayed by Israel and USA for too long, meanwhile the Zionist military keeps killing the Palestinians, including children.

President Putin calls for Eurasia integration!

President Putin calls for Eurasia integration!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
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The loss of a mighty Soviet empire stills haunts Russians, their leaders. Russian President Putin has not made any secret of his anguish and anger over the unexpected disintegration of Soviet Union that made Russia a less important super power. Initially Putin made efforts to rebuild the Soviet state but could not succeed as many former Soviet republics now independent nations refused to join the Russia dominated single nation. The way he crushed the Chechens on his ascendance to presidency forced many of those pro-Russia states within the Soviet space rethink their desire to promote a mighty Russia.

Putin has been making conscious efforts to rebuild the former Soviet states in some format by launching economic, political and military formations but they have not become as successful as the Warsaw Pact or COMCON had been during the Cold War.

The concept of Eurasia – bringing Europe and Asia together- got a phillip under Putin who is eager to see the region emerge more important and larger continent than EU in all respects, especially in economics and defense.  However, USA is not  impressed by the Russian move to counter  its NATO in the longer context.

Inspired by the Chinese initiative of OBOR and its vast potentials for the region covering three continents, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in Beijing on May 14 that he salutes China’s “large-scale” Belt and Road Initiative and called for greater Eurasian partnership. Putin made the remarks at the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Initiative Forum for International Cooperation taking place in Beijing on May 14-15.
The Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China in 2013 consists of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road. It aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond the ancient Silk Road trade routes.

During a visit to Moscow in May 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping signed an agreement with Putin on aligning the Belt and Road Initiative with the EEU, which currently groups Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia.

Calling the Belt and Road Initiative an example of cooperation in such fields as infrastructure, transport and industry, the Russian president said his country has supported the initiative from the very beginning. He said the historical experience of cooperation between countries linked by the ancient Silk Road through Asia, Europe and Africa is important in the 21st century when the world is facing “very serious challenges.”

Putin called for more cooperation to meet worldwide challenges like unbalanced development in globalization, poverty and regional conflicts, saying that Russia is working with its partners to advance the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), among others.

The integration of the Belt and Road Initiative, the EEU, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has laid the groundwork for building a great Eurasian partnership, he said.

Meanwhile, Putin urged concrete actions to materialize the existing initiatives by facilitating flow of goods, cooperation between enterprises of different countries in Eurasia, infrastructure construction and establishment of joint and large-scale research institutions. He said the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China is “very timely and promising.”

China goes farther than Russia’s Eurasia n approach with its OBOR concept to include the African continent as well. Both ideas are, however, despised by Washington that considers Russia-China alliance the most dangerous to its own global military supremacy scheme.

Already, China is very close to USA in economic and military dolmans.

Tasks before reelected Iran President Hassan Rouhani!

 

Tasks before reelected Iran President Hassan Rouhani!

-Dr. Abdul Ruff

________

 

 

As expected, the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, has been re-elected in a landslide victory, endorsing his efforts to re-engage with the west and offer greater freedoms at home.

Amid a large 73 percent turnout of eligible voters, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani won a first-round victory in the May 19 presidential election, garnering a decisive 57 percent of the vote, far exceeding his 50.7 percent majority in the 2013 election. Rouhani’s main rival, Ibrahim Raisi, garnered 38 percent of the vote despite having the clear backing of Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the security establishment led by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Since July 2016, Raisi has been considered a front-runner to potentially succeed Khamenei as Supreme Leader. The 2017 election outcome could represent a key turning point in Iranian politics and Iran’s relationship to the international community.

Iranians have said a resounding Yes to President Rouhani who, in recent years and particularly during the last several weeks of campaigning, promised to expand individual and political freedoms and make all those centres of power, like the Revolutionary Guard, accountable. He also promised a moderate vision and an outward-looking Iran and, at rallies, openly attacked the conservative-dominated judiciary and security services. Another challenge will come from abroad, and the relations with the new US government. President Donald Trump opposes the nuclear deal which eased sanctions on the Middle Eastern country, but his White House renewed it earlier this week.

Iran today faces two most important problems: one its forward looking foreign policy and economic stagnancy- both are intertwined. .

The core reason for Rouhani’s significant victory is that he had delivered on a key promise—achieving the lifting of sanctions in conjunction with a landmark agreement with the United States and other major powers to implement restraints on Iran’s nuclear program. Iranians have faith in his leadership.

On foreign policy, Rouhani attracted voters with a promise to not only adhere to the seminal nuclear deal but to go beyond the agreement to reach broader understandings with the United States. Such understandings could yield the lifting of the remaining U.S. sanctions that make international firms hesitant to re-engage in Iran, but which would also entail compromises that the Supreme leader and IRGC are likely to thwart. A lifting of US terrorism-related sanctions would require Iran to sharply curtail its support for Lebanese Hezbollah and President Bashar al-Assad of Syria—requirements that the hardline Iranian establishment would not permit under almost any circumstances. Similarly, the lifting of US proliferation sanctions would require Iran to cease developing ballistic missiles—a reversal that Iran’s hardliners would almost certainly block. US approach to the Syrian crisis would determine US policy o for Iran.

Washington wants the Iranian president to reign in the Spiritual leader and take full control of important institutions like IRGC and judiciary, thereby crate tension with the Spiritual leader.  Rouhani’s inability to change Iran’s key national security policies will likely ensure that the Trump administration continues to strengthen alliances with Iran’s regional adversaries. President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia this past weekend came with the signing of a major package of new U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia, including a Saudi purchase of the Theater High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) ballistic missile system designed to intercept Iranian missiles. Trump’s visit also included discussions of institutionalizing US-Arab alliances intended, in large part, to counter Iran’s regional influence.

Even though most Iranians have not yet experienced tangible economic benefits from sanctions relief, Iranian voters clearly turned away from Raisi’s candidacy in part for his potential to increase tensions with the international community and possibly trigger a re-imposition of those sanctions.

The election was seen by many as a verdict on Rouhani’s policy of opening up Iran to the world and his efforts to rebuild its stagnant economy. Rouhani swept into office four years ago on a promise to reduce Iran’s international isolation.
Friday poll was the first since he negotiated a historic deal with world powers in 2015 to curb the country’s nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief. In the campaign trail, Rouhani sought to frame the vote as a choice between greater civil liberties and “extremism”, criticising the continued arrest of reformist leaders and activists. Raisi, for his part, accused Rouhani of mismanaging the economy and positioned himself as a defender of the poor and calling for a much tougher line with the West.

The economy that received setback due to sanctions form the western powers and allies remains the number one challenge for Rouhani, 68, who signed a nuclear deal between Iran, the USA and other countries in 2015. International sanctions were lifted as a result, but average Iranians say they do not feel the economic benefits in their daily lives. While oil exports have rebounded and inflation is back at single-digits, unemployment remains high, especially among the young people.

A vibrant economy alone could bring Iran closer to the western world. Rouhani, a moderate who agreed a deal with world powers to limit Iran’s nuclear program, pledged to “remain true” to his promises. The decisive victory gives him a strong mandate to seek reforms and revive Iran’s ailing economy, analysts say. In his first remarks after winning the poll, Rouhani said: “Great people of Iran, you’re the winners of the election.” Rouhani’s victory is welcomed by Iranian reformists as well as the country’s opposition green movement.

President Rouhani has brought GDP growth back into the black, inflation into single-digits and trade deficit into a surplus. But expectations are high and Rouhani himself is to blame, having promised miracles once the sanctions were lifted. Rouhani will now have a bigger mandate to push through his reforms, to put an end to extremism, to build bridges with the outside world, to put the economy back on track.

Rouhani managed to strike an historic deal in 2015 with world powers over Iran’s controversial nuclear programme, resolving a long-standing crisis with the West. International sanctions were lifted as a result, but average Iranians say they do not feel the economic benefits in their daily lives.

That growth came mostly from increased oil exports following the lifting of sanctions. Iran’s highest record in the past four decades has been creating 600,000 jobs a year. Iran’s current unemployment rate stands at 12.7%, up 1.7% over the past year. That puts the number of those with absolutely no employment at 3.3 million.
But when it comes to young people, one in every three of those aged 15-24 is jobless. In that age group, every other woman is unemployed. For those without a job, Qalibaf is also offering a 2.5m rial ($66) monthly unemployment benefit, a first in the 38 years since the Islamic Revolution. The price tag for this election promise alone is a staggering $2.6bn. Iran’s housing sector shrank 13% in the year to March 2017, while the country’s overall economy grew by almost 6.6%, estimates International Monetary Fund.

Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in his two terms (2005-2013) started cash hand-outs when removing subsidies, offered low-interest loans for small businesses and launched massive projects of affordable housing for the poor. But when Ahmadinejad left office the economy was shrinking by 7% a year and inflation reached 40%. He blamed international sanctions. Economists blamed Ahmadinejad’s populist policies and his mismanagement of the economy.

Rouhani has brought inflation down from around 40 percent when he took over in 2013, but prices are still rising by over seven percent a year. Oil sales have rebounded since the nuclear deal took effect in January 2016, but growth in the rest of the economy has been limited, leaving unemployment at 12.5 percent overall – close to 30 percent for the young – and many more are under-employed or struggling to get by. “Rouhani now gets his second term, and will be able to continue the work that he started in his first four-year term trying to reform Iran,” Hull said. “And moving on, crucially, from the nuclear deal to try and bring much more economic progress to satisfy the people who have found themselves extremely disappointed with the very slow pace of change since that agreement was signed.”
In Iran’s unique and uneasy hybrid of democracy and theocracy, the president has significant power to shape government, although he is ultimately constrained by the supreme leader. Khamenei, a hardliner thought to have favored Raisi in the election and as a possible successor for his own job, generally steers clear of daily politics but controls powerful bodies from the judiciary to the Revolutionary Guards.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has veto power over all policies and ultimate control of the security forces, While Rouhani has been unable to secure the release of reformist leaders from house arrest. While the nuclear deal was at the forefront of the election, the campaign was dominated by the issues of poverty and unemployment.

Rouhani is also expected to face the same restrictions that prevented him from delivering substantial social change in his first term. Rouhani, during an “increasingly acrimonious election campaign, alienated a lot of Iran’s significant state institutions who may be in no mood to cooperate with him going forward”.
The Rouhani re-election offers the potential for the Trump government to incorporate some direct diplomacy with Iran into its overall strategy. While criticizing Iran’s policies extensively, in April the Trump administration certified Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal, and it continued to waive U.S. sanctions under the agreement in May. During Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, which began as Rouhani was declared the winner in Iran, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson indicated that, at some point, he expected to talk directly with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif. Such direct bilateral engagement could overcome decades of mutual hostility and put the relationship on a more peaceful and productive trajectory, offer a new opportunity for engagement between the two long-time adversaries, offering a new opportunity for engagement between the two long-time adversaries.

 

Peace talks restart in Geneva over Syria: Will they do any good?

Peace talks restart in Geneva over Syria: Will they do any good?
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
_____

 

Six years ago, USA successfully instigated a civil war in Syria by using its opposition in order to remove President Assad from power and now with Russia supporting the Assad regime, escalation has reached the zenith. They now seek de-escalation of crisis in Syria without any sincere intention even as there is no possibility for Assad to step down or removed in any way.
In fact, USA did not want to remove or kill Assad as it had done with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. It only wanted to destabilize entire Arab world one by one. While President Saddam Hussein was a threat to US imperialism and its efforts to control Arab oil, Libyan leader President M. Qaddafi challenged US power, Syrian leader Assad was never such a threat to US power and control mechanism. That is the prime reason why Pentagon-CIA duo has left Assad alive. After all, he is only helping with the execution of US agenda of destabilization of Mideast.
That is the reason why all the peace efforts by UN have failed.

The United Nations has now convened a new round of indirect Syrian peace talks in Geneva, despite President Bashar al-Assad dismissing them as irrelevant. De Mistura met the government’s chief representative, Bashar al-Jaafari, at UN headquarters on Tuesday morning as the sixth round of talks got under way.
The UN envoy said he would see Nasr al-Hariri and Mohammad Sabra of the main umbrella group representing political and armed opposition factions, the High Negotiations Committee (HNC). De Mistura told reporters the intention was to be “more businesslike, both in our meetings and in the way we hope we can get some progress”. The rooms would be small, the meetings would be more interactive and frequent, and discussions would be focused on particular subjects in an effort to achieve “more movement”, he said.

De Mistura told played down last week’s dismissive comments by Syria’s president, who said the Geneva talks were “merely a meeting for the media” and praised the parallel process taking place in Kazakhstan’s capital that has been organised by the government’s allies Russia and Iran, along with key opposition backer Turkey.
As the civilian death toll has mounted over the past six years, President Bashar Assad has rejected all allegations of atrocities as “devoid of logic” because “the Syrian Army is made up of Syrian people.” When confronted with overwhelming evidence of systematic violations of the laws of war, he has stuck to this line, insisting: “We don’t kill civilians, because we don’t have the moral incentive, we don’t have the interest to kill civilians.” Why don’t the Pentagon forces bomb the Assad palace and end the bloodshed? Apparently, without permission of Moscow, Washington simply cannot even think of doing that. Also, the great internationalization of Syria’s conflict and the fact that its rebels seek to topple the government work in Assad’s favor.
Syria is a strong state with well-organized military fighting territory-holding rebels who have significant popular support. The scale of civilian death and the pattern of violations constitute human horrors of rights: custodial torture and extrajudicial killings of suspected regime opponents, attacks on civilian targets including hospitals and aid conveys, and the use of prohibited weapons. And in both cases international audiences raised the alarm about mass atrocities.

Assad has said “nothing substantial” will come out of the talks. But UN envoy Staffan de Mistura insists that the government’s 18-strong delegation is in Switzerland “to work”. Five previous rounds of negotiations have made little progress towards a political solution to the six-year civil war, which has left more than 300,000 people dead.

The Astana process resulted in the three powers signing a memorandum on 4 May establishing four “de-escalation” zones in the north-western province of Idlib, north of the central city of Homs, the Eastern Ghouta area outside Damascus, and in the southern provinces of Deraa and Quneitra. “We are working in tandem, in a way,” de Mistura said. “Everybody’s been telling us and we agree that any type of reduction of violence, in this case de-escalation, cannot be sustained unless there is a political horizon in one direction or the other. That is exactly what we are pushing for,” he added.

The government and opposition have agreed to discuss four “baskets” – a political transition, new constitution, elections and combating terrorism.

Meanwhile, officials from the Syrian government denied accusations that a prison crematorium was being used to hide mass killings of political prisoners. The Syrian foreign ministry said the accusations – made by the US state department – were “a new Hollywood story” and “totally baseless”. An anonymous source quoted in the statement accused the US government of making the allegations up to justify US aggression in Syria.

Residents of a Damascus suburb are working to bring a sense of normality back to their lives after six years of war. When the rebel groups seized Eastern Ghouta in 2012, the Assad government responded by cutting basic services like power and water and also laying a military siege to the area, making life of people miserable. .UN has not made any speedy arrangements to mitigate the sufferings of such stranded populations.
Over time, residents have worked to provide the kind of basic functions that many urban communities take for granted. But their efforts are often hampered by the brutal and prolonged conflict that touches every aspect of life. “Our reality is being intentionally isolated from the rest of the world,” Abou Ramez, one of the pioneers of civil projects there told the BBC.

An elected “municipal council” for all opposition-held areas in the Damascus countryside was also formed, as well as an umbrella organisation representing over a hundred medical, relief, educational and other civil institutions..

 

Local councils were initially formed to provide relief work and basic municipal services, such as water and waste management. “We used cow manure to generate energy for generators to irrigate land,” Ramez says. Power is also generated from waste products, and heating oil extracted by melting plastic. Over time the councils’ role expanded to providing education and counseling centres. Projects are funded by external donors. Ramez, says that councils try to remain neutral towards militant groups, but they also recognize the opposition “interim government”, formed in 2013 and based in Turkey.

Today, Syria tops the list of deadliest countries for journalists, in large part due to regime attacks on the domestic press. Humanitarian aid delivery has been restricted since the conflict began. In Syria, these measures cut off nearly all sources of independent information.
In 2016, Assad disputed the existence of the Aleppo siege, arguing that if it were true, “people would have been dead by now.” (One estimate suggests that more than 30,000 people died in Aleppo between 2012 and 2016.) The regime has disputed the authenticity of photo and video evidence of chemical weapons attacks, barrel bombs, torture, and extrajudicial killings. Assad’s farcical suggestion last month that the dead children in the videos from Idlib were mere acting children. Syria disputed the attribution of all war crimes it can’t deny, and portrayed its opponent as the only blameworthy actor. Early in the conflict, Assad told international media that “Most of the people that have been killed are supporters of the government.” In 2013, he rejected responsibility for the sarin gas attack in Ghouta, insisting “We’re not there.” Finally, the Syrian government has accused the rebels of using civilians as human shields, and excused its targeting of hospitals and schools on the grounds that “terrorists” are using them as bases and weapons storage.
Obfuscation and denial can be enough to exploit this inertia and prevent intervention, especially when big powers like USA and Russia shield them. Syrian reality shows that even an international pariah can get away with mass murder.
The Syrian government does not recognize the councils and characterizes organised activity within rebel areas as the work of armed militia or “terrorist” groups. “It is exactly this kind of civil body that constitutes the biggest threat for the regime,” says Majd al-Dik, whose team works on opening support centres for children. It has also worked to put Eastern Ghouta’s large agricultural areas to use, by supporting local farmers to provide food for residents.

 

However, Syrian forces seized the farmland just one week before the harvest in 2016. “Turning people from service providers into dependents – this is the goal behind targeting civilians,” al-Dik told the BBC. Over 42 councils have been formed in the area since 2013, and members have been elected through democratic means since 2015.
Recurring internal fighting between rebel groups has also added to the obstacles facing civil work in Eastern Ghouta. When infighting first broke out in 2016, residents, activists and notable civil society figures staged demonstrations and sit-ins against the violence. Civil society figures also mediated between the disputing sides.
And in late April 2017 – exactly a year later – clashes broke out once again and several civilians were injured as they protested. Al-Dik says that movement around the area is severely restricted due to rebel snipers and checkpoints.
Meanwhile, the Syrian army and its allies have been advancing in the nearby strategic suburb of Qaboun, further tightening the siege and increasing the possibility of bombardment on the area.
Around two million people lived in Eastern Ghouta before the war began in 2011. Today there are just around 400,000. As well as the threat of violence, residents also face the fear of forced evacuation as the conflict turns in the government’s favour.
In recent months, thousands of people in rebel-held towns have left their homes as part of deals between the government and armed groups. “To evacuate the area is to destroy the civil body that has been established,” Majd al-Dik says. “It’s a catastrophe”.
The Syrian government maintains that evacuations are not being forced on civilians. Looking ahead to post-war Syria, Majd al-Dik says: “People ask about alternatives. But no-one talks about the local councils or civil institutions. Who is providing services in such areas now in the worst possible conditions?” Ramez says that many in Eastern Ghouta will never leave their homes. “Over 200,000 of our residents are capable of carrying weapons. Their united choice is to die and be martyred on this land rather than move to other areas only to be annihilated later on.”
Peace talks between Israel and Palestine have never been successful because Israel doesn’t want to give up the occupation posts and return the lands stolen from Palestinians. As talks have become bogus tools to gain legitimacy for illegal occupation and genocides.
In Syria, none is sincere about peace or stability, including the President Assad who just wants to be the permanent president without facing any elections. Maybe he thinks he has no death..
UN must step in to end hostilities in Syria and genocides and bring back normalcy. Peace task are necessary but without sincerity nothing is going to work. Both USA and Russia are fighting their old cold war in Syria.

The Assad regime’s close relationship with Russia means that it is well-protected. For six years, victims’ advocates, international human rights activists, and horrified onlookers have been asking themselves how high the death toll in Syria has to get before someone will step in. But international action on mass atrocities is the exception rather than the rule.

Like Bush and Obama, Assad also should be tried for crimes against humanity.

Donald Trump in Saudi Arabia signs massive arms deal with Arab ally!

Donald Trump in Saudi Arabia signs massive arms deal with Arab ally!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
_______

Apparently US-Saudi relations have been revised by the trip of US President Donald Trump in his maiden presidential trip to the land of Arabs as his first preferred choice to make his first foreign visit.

President Trump in Saudi Arabia on Saturday signed a nearly $110 billion arms deal to help the Persian Gulf ally with its military-defense system. “That was a tremendous day,” Trump, a highly successful US businessman said after signing the deal with Saudi leader King Salman. “Tremendous investments in the United States. Hundreds of billions of dollars of investments into the United States and jobs, jobs, jobs,” declared a beaming US President who seemed determined to be very diplomatic.

The White House says the package includes defense equipment and other support to help the Arab nation and the rest of the Gulf region fight again terrorism and the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, according to the White House.
US president hopes to rekindle a strategic relationship grown frosty under Obama as US officials pledging deals of around $350bn as the two allies rekindle a relationship that had grown frosty under the Obama government.
The multi-billion dollar defense deal “in the clearest terms possible” shows the United States’ commitment to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf partners and expands economic opportunities, the White House said. The deal will also supporting tens-of-thousands of new jobs in the US defense industrial base, the White House also said. The package includes tanks, combat ships, missile defense systems, radar and communications and cyber security technology.

The agreements included a $110bn arms package that the White House said would help Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states face Iranian threats and contribute to counter terrorism operations, “reducing the burden on the US military,” a White House official said. The value of the deals signal a revived partnership that promises Saudi investment into US infrastructure in return for US arms deals for the kingdom. Saudi Arabia is also looking for US support as Riyadh tries to transform its oil-reliant economy after the sustained drop in crude prices triggered a budgetary crisis and rapid deceleration. The kingdom hopes to cement this renewed commercial partnership with a common vision to check Iranian ambitions in the Arab world.

Trump on Saturday began a number of political and economic meetings with the Saudi leadership. Trump arrived in Saudi Arabia early Saturday as the start to his nine-day, overseas tour that will also take him to Israel and Europe. The international trip is Trump’s first since taking office in January. “Great to be in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia,” Trump (or his aide) tweeted upon landing in Air Force One. “Looking forward to the afternoon and evening ahead.”

Trump greeted at the Saudi airport with an elaborate ceremony, punctuated by a military flyover and a handshake from the 81-year-old Saudi King Salman. The two leaders exchanged pleasantries and Trump said it was “a great honor” to be there. Several jets then flew overhead leaving a red, white and blue trail. The king, walking with the aid of a stick, accompanied  Trump up a red carpet at the royal terminal of Riyadh’s airport, with the president’s wife Melania following at the back of the small welcoming committee. First lady Melania Trump wore a black pantsuit with a golden belt and did not cover her head for the arrival, consistent with custom for foreign dignitaries visiting Saudi Arabia. In 2015, her husband had, in a tweet, criticized former first lady Michelle Obama for not wearing a headscarf during a visit to the kingdom. After two days of meetings in Riyadh, Trump will travel to Israel, have an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican, then meet with allies at a NATO summit in Brussels and the Group of 7 wealthy nations in Sicily.

As the US president landed, dozens of chief executives from Saudi Arabia and the US were convening at a forum where they discussed Saudi financial flows into America, and how the US could help diversify the kingdom’s oil-reliant economy.

Saudi Aramco, the state oil company, signed more than $50bn worth of deals on Saturday, around $22bn of which were new memorandums of understanding, including: ● Investing $7bn with Rowan over 10 years to own and operate drilling rigs, creating 2,800 jobs in Saudi Arabia. ● Extending a joint venture with Nabors for oil well services, seeing $9bn of investment over 10 years, creating up to 5,000 jobs in the kingdom. ● A new joint venture with National Oilwell Varco in Saudi Arabia to manufacture driving rigs and equipment, seeing $6bn of investment over 10 years. Aramco also said it would boost operations at its US refinery unit Motiva, with a planned $12bn investment with a likely additional $18bn by 2023. The deal aims to create 12,000 jobs by 2023. Six firms — including Honeywell, McDermott and Weatherford — signed MOUs to expand Aramco’s use of locally produced goods and services, bringing $19bn of investment to the kingdom. Aramco also signed a deal with GE to deliver $4bn worth of savings via digitization of the oil firm’s operations. This was part of a GE package of valued at $15bn.

When deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman visited Washington earlier this year, the White House estimated that Saudi investment pledges could rise to around $200bn. In the defence sector, Lockheed Martin signed a $6bn deal to assemble 150 Blackhawk helicopters in the kingdom, supporting 450 jobs. Raytheon and General Dynamics also signed agreements to support the localization of defence contracts. The deals support Prince Mohammed’s plans for the world’s third-largest spender on arms to create a domestic industry led by the newly formed company Saudi Arabia Military Industries. The kingdom wants to source half of defence spending locally by 2030 from 2 per cent now. Saudi Arabia’s sovereign Public Investment Fund pledged $20bn for a $40bn Blackstone US infrastructure fund, with $20bn to be raised from other parties. Blackstone said it expects, with debt financing, to invest $100bn in infrastructure projects, mainly in the USA.
Saudi Arabia offered Trump the elaborate welcome ahead of his two-day stay. Billboards featuring images of Trump and the king dotted the highways of Riyadh, emblazoned with the motto “Together we prevail.” Trump’s luxury hotel was bathed in red, white and blue lights and, at times, an image of the president’s face.

Trump and the king met briefly in the airport terminal for a coffee ceremony before the president headed to his hotel before the day’s other meetings.

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told reporters on Air Force One that Trump spent the flight meeting with staff, working on his upcoming speech to the Muslim world and getting a little sleep.

After spending much of Saturday meeting with King Salman and other members of the royal family, Trump was to end the day at a banquet dinner at the Murabba Palace. On Sunday, he’ll hold meetings with more than 50 Arab and Muslim leaders converging on Riyadh for a regional summit focused largely on combating the Islamic State and other extremist groups.

The centerpiece of Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia will be a speech Sunday at the Arab-Islamic-American summit. White House aides view the address as a counter to Obama’s 2009 speech to the Muslim world, which Trump criticized as too apologetic for US actions in the region.

Trump will call for unity in the fight against radicalism in the Muslim world, casting the challenge as a “battle between good and evil” and urging Arab leaders to “drive out the terrorists from your places of worship,” according to a draft of the speech obtained by The Associated Press. The draft notably refrains from mentioning democracy and human rights — topics Arab leaders often view as U.S. moralizing — in favor of the more limited goals of peace and stability. It also abandons some of the harsh anti-Muslim rhetoric that defined Trump’s presidential campaign and does not contain the words “radical Islamic terror,” a phrase Trump repeatedly criticized Hillary Clinton for not using during last year’s campaign.

White House officials hope the trip gives Trump the opportunity to recalibrate after one of the most difficult stretches of his young presidency. The White House badly bungled the president’s stunning firing of FBI Director James Comey, who was overseeing the federal investigation into possible ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia. On Wednesday, the Justice Department relented to calls from Democrats to name a special counsel, tapping former FBI chief Robert Mueller to lead the probe.
At the close of the Saturday morning forum, about 70 senior Saudi executives and US chief executives boarded buses outside the Four Seasons hotel, bound for lunch with King Salman and Mr Trump at the royal court. The elite business delegation is set to hold postprandial talks with Prince Mohammed, architect of the kingdom’s reform plans. Around 30 US executives were approved to attend the lunch, including names such as Larry Fink of BlackRock, Michael Corbat of Citigroup, Roy Harvey of Alcoa, Adena Friedman of Nasdaq and financial adviser Michael Klein.
Trump dodged one potential land mine when Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who has been indicted on war crime and genocide charges, announced that he would not attend the summit for personal reasons.

Trump during his winning presidential campaign and in the first several months of his presidency has argued the United States can no longer be the world’s police officer and that other nations must become more self-sufficient in efforts to combat terrorism and in protecting themselves against rogue nations like Iran and North Korea.
The US president is expected to pledge his respect and support to Saudi leaders and to the region, after months of harsh anti-Muslim rhetoric.
The Arab-US oil-terror goods business is back to fore to cement the ailing ties between allies. The $110-billion (around 100 billion Euros) deal for Saudi purchases of US defense equipment and services was one of several deals announced during Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia. The military sales deal is effective immediately, with another $350 billion set of deals to kick in over the next 10 years. “This package of defense equipment and services support the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of Iranian threats,” a White House official said when announcing the deal. “We now stand together to thwart our common enemies, to strengthen the bonds between us and to chart a path towards peace and prosperity for all,” the leaders said in a joint declaration.

Russia and Iran – allies with Syria against the US-Saudi Arabia axis in the region – this year signed a large arms deal. The US-Saudi deal comes amid talk of a possible reconfiguration of Middle East alliances, and possibly global ties. For Riyadh, the visit is an opportunity to rebuild ties with a key ally, strained under Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, who Sunni Arab Gulf states suspected of a tilt towards their Shiite regional rival Iran.

Iran: Hassan Rouhani reelected President!

Iran: Hassan Rouhani reelected President!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
______

 

The Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, has been re-elected in a landslide victory, endorsing his efforts to re-engage with the west and offer greater freedoms at home. With a huge turnout, polling stations stayed open until midnight in parts of the country, defying concerns that moderates disillusioned by the weak economy or slow pace of change would not vote. The president received close to 23 million votes, Interior Minister Abdul Reza Rahmani Fazli said on state television, in an election that had an unexpectedly high turnout of about 70%.
Iran’s reformist President Hassan Rouhani has decisively won the country’s presidential election, fending off a challenge by principlist rival, Ebrahim Raisi a conservative cleric. With all of votes in Friday’s poll counted, Rouhani was re-elected with 57 percent, Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmanifazli said. “Of some 41.2 million total votes cast, Rouhani got 23.5 and won the election,” Rahmanifazli said in remarks carried live by state TV. Raisi, Rouhani’s closest rival, main challenger, former prosecutor Ebrahim Raisi received 38.5%, or 15.7 million votes, not enough to take the election to a second round. A big turnout on Friday led to the vote being extended by several hours to deal with long queues.
Rouhani, a moderate who agreed a deal with world powers to limit Iran’s nuclear programme, pledged to “remain true” to his promises. The decisive victory gives him a strong mandate to seek reforms and revive Iran’s ailing economy, analysts say. In his first remarks after winning the poll, Rouhani said: “Great people of Iran, you’re the winners of the election.”
Giving full details, Iran’s interior minister, Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, announced live on state television that Rouhani received 23,549,616 votes (57%), compared with his conservative rival Ebrahim Raisi, who won 15,786,449 votes (38.5%). More than 41.2 million people voted out of 56 million who were eligible to do so. The two other lesser known candidates, Mostafa Aqa-Mirsalim and Mostafa Hashemi-Taba, got 478,215 and 215,450 votes respectively.
The incumbent saw off a strong challenge from Raisi, a fellow cleric with radically different politics who stirred up populist concerns about the sluggish economy, lambasted Rouhani for seeking foreign investment and appealed to religious conservatives. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, issued a statement addressed to the Iranian people in which he praised the “massive and epic” turnout.

Presidency
In Iran’s unique and uneasy hybrid of democracy and theocracy, the president has significant power to shape government, although he is is ultimately constrained by the supreme leader. Khamenei, a hardliner thought to have favored Raisi in the election and as a possible successor for his own job, generally steers clear of daily politics but controls powerful bodies from the judiciary to the Revolutionary Guards. Despite losing the overall race, Raisi appeared to have won enough votes to allow him to campaign for office again or justify his promotion in unelected bodies.
Rouhani’s campaign headquarters said there was no plan to hold a celebratory rally. Iranians are usually quick to celebrate such victories, mainly by honking car horns or dancing in streets or distributing sweets. The scale of voter turnout was the highest for many years. The governor of the northern province of Gilan was quoted as saying the turnout there was 80%. In Yazd, the home city of former reformist president, Mohammad Khatami, there was 91% participation.
Fear of a Raisi presidency prompted many in Iran to vote. In Tehran, even political prisoners such as the prominent human rights lawyer Narges Mohammadi, cast their votes inside the notorious Evin prison. And the double Oscar-winning film director Asghar Farhadi voted in Cannes while participating at the festival.

Significance

Rouhani’s victory will be welcomed by Iranian reformists as well as the country’s opposition green movement.
Opposition leaders under house arrest, Mir Hossein Mousavi, his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi Karroubi, had urged people to vote for Rouhani. The president changed his tone on the campaign trail in order to appeal to the opposition. “Ya Hossein, Mir Hossein” was a ubiquitous slogan chanted by Rouhani fans in almost every place he campaigned in the three weeks before the vote.

The election was seen by many as a verdict on Rouhani’s policy of opening up Iran to the world and his efforts to rebuild its stagnant economy. Rouhani swept into office four years ago on a promise to reduce Iran’s international isolation.
Friday poll was the first since he negotiated a historic deal with world powers in 2015 to curb the country’s nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief. In the campaign trail, Rouhani sought to frame the vote as a choice between greater civil liberties and “extremism”, criticising the continued arrest of reformist leaders and activists. Raisi, for his part, accused Rouhani of mismanaging the economy and positioned himself as a defender of the poor and calling for a much tougher line with the West.
Political commentator Mostafa Khoshcheshm said that in contrast to the 2013 election campaign, when Rouhani spoke about the removal of sanctions and the improvement of the economy, this time his message was different. “He resorted to other campaign slogans, like [calling for] social and political freedom, and he pushed the boundaries in order to gather public support, especially in large cities,” Khoshcheshm told Al Jazeera. “If he has secured this result, it’s because of the large cities and the middle class society living there – they have voted for him and made him a president and they expect him to do his promises.”
Trita Parsi, of the National Iranian American council, said the results showed Iranians had chosen “a path of gradual transformation through peaceful participation”. “President Rouhani’s convincing win is a sharp rebuke to Iran’s unelected institutions that were a significant brake on progress during his first term,” he said. “It is also a rebuke of Washington hawks who openly called for either a boycott of the vote, or for the hardline candidate Ebrahim Raisi to win in order to hasten a confrontation.” He said it was now time for Rouhani to deliver on the promises that inspired people to vote him back in.

Hardliners
Iran’s hardliners had pulled all the stops and mobilized all their resources to bring out as many people as possible to grab the last centre of power in Iran that was not under their control, namely the executive branch. Sensing an effort by the hardliners, supporters of President Rouhani who back his promises to steer the country toward moderation came out in big numbers too. Turnout has been unprecedented. In Tehran, five million people turned out to vote – twice as many as in 2013.
This was a revenge of the people against the hardliners who intimidated them, jailed them, executed them, drove them to exile, pushed them out of their jobs, and discriminated against women.

 

Campaign
President Rouhani will now have a bigger mandate to push through his reforms, to put an end to extremism, to build bridges with the outside world, to put the economy back on track.

Iranians have said a resounding Yes to President Rouhani who, in recent years and particularly during the last several weeks of campaigning, promised to expand individual and political freedoms and make all those centres of power, like the Revolutionary Guard, accountable. He also promised a moderate vision and an outward-looking Iran and, at rallies, openly attacked the conservative-dominated judiciary and security services. Another challenge, experts say, will come from abroad, and the relations with the new US government. President Donald Trump opposes the nuclear deal which eased sanctions on the Middle Eastern country, but his White House renewed it earlier this week.
As polling day draws closer in Iran, the state of the economy has become the key battleground for the six candidates running for president.
With rampant unemployment, some are promising jobs and others cash hand-outs as they appeal for votes.
Given his record, winning this election ought to be easy for incumbent Hassan Rouhani – but his re-election is by no means a certainty.
Rouhani managed to strike an historic deal in 2015 with world powers over Iran’s controversial nuclear programme, resolving a long-standing crisis with the West.
International sanctions were lifted as a result, but average Iranians say they do not feel the economic benefits in their daily lives. “For the past two years, many have stayed away from the property market, first with the hope prices would fall post-sanctions and now for the fear of what happens in the elections,” says Ali Saeedi, a real estate agent. “Many of my colleagues left their jobs because the market is dead,” Saeedi, 33, says.
Iran’s housing sector shrank 13% in the year to March 2017, while the country’s overall economy grew by almost 6.6%, estimates International Monetary Fund.
That growth came mostly from increased oil exports following the lifting of sanctions. Iran’s highest record in the past four decades has been creating 600,000 jobs a year. Iran’s current unemployment rate stands at 12.7%, up 1.7% over the past year. That puts the number of those with absolutely no employment at 3.3 million.
But when it comes to young people, one in every three of those aged 15-24 is jobless. In that age group, every other woman is unemployed. For those without a job, Qalibaf is also offering a 2.5m rial ($66) monthly unemployment benefit, a first in the 38 years since since the Islamic Revolution. The price tag for this election promise alone is a staggering $2.6bn. Qalibaf does not say where he will find the money, nor how he will manage to double Iran’s job creation record.
Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in his two terms (2005-2013) started cash hand-outs when removing subsidies, offered low-interest loans for small businesses and launched massive projects of affordable housing for the poor.
But when Ahmadinejad left office the economy was shrinking by 7% a year and inflation reached 40%. He blamed international sanctions. Economists blamed Ahmadinejad’s populist policies and his mismanagement of the economy.

 

Challenge
The economy remains the number one challenge. Rouhani, 68, signed a nuclear deal between Iran, the US and other countries in 2015. International sanctions were lifted as a result, but average Iranians say they do not feel the economic benefits in their daily lives. While oil exports have rebounded and inflation is back at single-digits, unemployment remains high, especially among the young people.
Rouhani has brought inflation down from around 40 percent when he took over in 2013, but prices are still rising by over seven percent a year. Oil sales have rebounded since the nuclear deal took effect in January 2016, but growth in the rest of the economy has been limited, leaving unemployment at 12.5 percent overall – close to 30 percent for the young – and many more are under-employed or struggling to get by. “Rouhani now gets his second term, and will be able to continue the work that he started in his first four-year term trying to reform Iran,” Hull said. “And moving on, crucially, from the nuclear deal to try and bring much more economic progress to satisfy the people who have found themselves extremely disappointed with the very slow pace of change since that agreement was signed.”
President Rouhani has brought GDP growth back into the black, inflation into single-digits and trade deficit into a surplus. But expectations are high and Rouhani himself is to blame, having promised miracles once the sanctions were lifted.
Most members of Iran’s fledgling private sector say they will give Mr Rouhani another chance. “We want him to improve the business environment and free the economy from rent-seeking, corruption and monopoly,” says Hamid Hosseini, chief executive of Soroosh oil refinery in Iran.
Hosseini is a board member of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines and the founder of the country’s oil products export union.He says a large group of private sector executives have come together to support Rouhani. “His government has given the society hope with lifting sanctions, increasing growth and tourism, attracting foreign investment and should be confident in this race,” Hosseini says. But the choice for some young Iranians like Ali Saeedi is not crystal-clear.

Rouhani’s re-election is likely to safeguard the 2015 agreement, under which most international sanctions have been lifted in return for Iran curbing its nuclear program. Rouhani has vowed to work towards removing the remaining non-nuclear sanctions, but critics argue that will be hard with Donald Trump as US president – Trump has repeatedly described it as “one of the worst deals ever signed”, although his administration re-authorised waivers from sanctions this week.
Rouhani is also expected to face the same restrictions that prevented him from delivering substantial social change in his first term.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has veto power over all policies and ultimate control of the security forces, While Rouhani has been unable to secure the release of reformist leaders from house arrest.
Rouhani, during an “increasingly acrimonious election campaign, alienated a lot of Iran’s significant state institutions who may be in no mood to cooperate with him going forward”.
While the nuclear deal was at the forefront of the election, the campaign was dominated by the issues of poverty and unemployment.

President Trump arrives in Saudi Arabia!

President Trump arrives in Saudi Arabia!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
_____

 

 

US president Donald Trump receives warm welcome by King Salman as he seeks to
repair ties with Washington’s closest Arab ally. On the first leg of his first foreign trip since taking office as the custodian of White House and in a crucial test abroad as political scandals mount at home, President Donald Trump has arrived today in Saudi Arabia on his first foreign trip since becoming president. His eight-day shuttle trip will also take the Palestinian territories, in Israel, Brussels, the Vatican, and Sicily.
In a red-carpet airport welcome, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud greeted Trump, his wife Melania and his entourage shortly after they landed in the capital, Riyadh. Trump will hold a series of meetings with the king and other Arab and Muslim leaders on Saturday and Sunday, before jetting off to other countries as per his itinerary.
President Trump’s Saudi royal hosts have pulled out all the stops for this visit. They are lavishing him with an extravagant welcome not shown to his predecessor, Barack Obama, whom they felt was soft on their rival, Iran. Many Saudis are immensely proud that, despite his mounting troubles at home, the US president has chosen their country as the first stop on his inaugural overseas tour. But pressed further, a lot of ordinary Saudis will voice their dislike of US policies in the region and their conviction that the US, and by extension the West, is intrinsically anti-Islamic.
As the leader of Arab world, Saudi Arabia is concerned about Trumps regular anti-Islamic rhetoric even for poll prospects. Trump caused controversy during his campaign by calling for Muslims to be temporarily banned from entering the US over security concerns. Legislation aimed at restricting travel from several Muslim-majority countries remains tied up in the US courts.
On Sunday President Trump will try to address these concerns in a speech to more than 40 leaders of Muslim nations in which he will call for a united stand against extremism and intolerance. Some have already commentated that Donald Trump is an unusual choice to deliver such a message but for now, Saudi officials are giving him the benefit of the doubt.
On Tuesday the 23rd, after visiting Israel (Jerusalem) for a talk with Israeli president, Trump will travel to Bethlehem in the West Bank for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Peace talks with Israel will top the agenda and Trump is expected to express his support for Palestinian “self-determination”.

On Sunday the May 21 President Trump will try to address these concerns in a speech to more than 40 leaders of Muslim nations in which he will call for a united stand against extremism and intolerance. Some have already commentated that Donald Trump is an unusual choice to deliver such a message but for now, Saudi officials are giving him the benefit of the doubt. One leader who will not be attending the summit will be Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir. President Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges and the US was reported to be unhappy about his planned attendance.
Trump will attend the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh and speak about his “hopes of a peaceful vision of Islam”. Aides say the president hopes his speech will resonate worldwide and express “a common vision of peace, progress and prosperity”. Trump caused controversy during his campaign by calling for Muslims to be temporarily banned from entering the US over security concerns. Legislation aimed at restricting travel from several Muslim-majority countries remains tied up in the US courts. The summit agenda is expected to focus on combating Islamist militants and the growing regional influence of Iran. Trump has been a fierce critic of the Iran deal which eased sanctions in return for a curb on its nuclear activities.
On Saturday, Trump is expected to announce an arms deal with Saudi Arabia worth more than $100bn, in what could be the biggest such agreement in history. US officials familiar with the package told the media that the deal would include Abrams tanks, combat ships, missile defence systems, radar and communications and cyber security technology.
Multi-billion dollar deals between the USA and Saudi Arabia will be signed as US President Donald Trump’s first foreign trip begins in Riyadh. Trump and his wife Melania were greeted in the Saudi capital by King Salman on Saturday morning local time. Saturday’s deals on arms and with energy giant Aramco are expected to be worth at least $150bn (£115bn). On Saturday morning, Amin Nasser, the chief executive of Saudi oil giant Aramco, said $50bn (£38bn) of deals would be signed with 11 US companies. The deal is part of a wider drive to diversify the Saudi economy away from oil.
Separately, US media say Saudi Arabia will commit to buying about $100bn of US-made arms. Saudi Arabia has been fighting Houthi rebels in neighbouring Yemen since March 2015. The United Nations says about 10,000 people have been killed since the fighting began, with Yemen on the verge of famine.
On Wednesday 24 May, President Trump will arrive early in Rome and have an audience with Pope Francis. The two men have appeared at odds on many subjects including climate change and the plight of refugees, but the Pope has said he will give the president an open-minded hearing. Later, Trump then flies to Brussels where he will be greeted by King Philippe of Belgium and Prime Minister Charles Michel. After talks with EU leaders and France’s new President Emmanuel Macron, Trump will attend a meeting of NATO leaders. This will be closely watched after Trump’s conflicting pronouncements on the alliance. During his campaign, he called Nato “obsolete”, although in April he reversed his stance. The US leader is expected to repeat his demand that other Nato members increase their contributions.
The last stop on Trump’s tour will be the picturesque Sicilian town of Taormina where he will attend a G7 summit. The other G7 leaders are eager to hear Mr Trump’s thoughts on trade and other issues at first hand. Trump’s national security adviser has said that the president will “press America’s economic agenda and call for greater security co-operation”.

Hours before Trump’s arrival in Riyadh, Saudi air defence units said they had brought down a rocket south of the capital, Riyadh, that was fired from Yemen by Houthi rebels. Saudi warplanes are reported to have carried out retaliatory strikes on targets close to the Yemeni capital, Sanaa.
Saudi Arabia, which enforces a strict interpretation of Islam including a total ban on alcohol, is perhaps an unusual venue for Keith – whose hits include I Love This Bar, Whiskey Girl, and Drunk Americans. Saturday’s concert is open only to men aged over 21, who are required to dress in traditional Saudi tunics.
Unlike his predecessor, Barack Obama, Trump is not expected to highlight human rights during his trip. And aside from the formal diplomacy, US country music star Toby Keith will perform a free concert in Riyadh on Saturday alongside Saudi singer Rabeh Sager.
Unlike his predecessor, Barack Obama, he is not expected to highlight human rights during his trip.

 

President Trump to visit Saudi Arabia!

President Trump to visit Saudi Arabia!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
______

 

 

Undoubtedly, US-Arab relations, in particular US-Saudi ties, have been strained badly for quite some time now because of unilateral operations by Washington and its military allies in West Asia. Though Saudi Arabia is being considered as a strategic partner by official America, the western media do not appreciate what they see as an “illogical civilizational link” between USA and Saudi Arabia,  given what they say the “profound” difference in values. For them, USA which leads the NATO to invade energy rich Muslim nations for their cash, gold, petrol, as well as blood and flesh of Arab Muslims in order mainly to appease the Jews in USA and Israel, more that to showcase its military prowess to the world.
Saudi Arabia – which is home to Islam’s holiest sites – will be the first stop on Trump’s first foreign trip since becoming president in January. The four-day trip will also include Israel, a NATO summit in Belgium and a visit to Italy and the Vatican. Trump’s aides described his decision to visit Saudi Arabia as an effort to reset relations with the Muslim world. The Trump government is currently appealing rulings against an executive order Trump issued in March that tried to halt new visas from six Muslim-majority countries and suspend refugee resettlement in the US, sparking widespread protests.
Presidents Bush and Obama diluted the intensity and depth of traditional bilateral ties with Saudi Arabia as well as GCC by their terror wars in Mideast with Israeli backing. . Since Obama’s term came to an end in 2016, relations with Saudi Arabia have changed. During Obama’s last visit to Riyadh, ties were at their lowest in more than half a century. With Trump in power, Americans are hoping to witness changes in all aspects: Syria, Iran, Yemen, Israel-Palestine conflict and bilateral relations. First lady Melania Trump will “will accompany her husband for the entire trip,” an East Wing spokeswoman told CNN.
On 17th May King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud extended an invitation to the US President to visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This came during a phone call which was held last night between the two leaders who reviewed the historic relations between the two friendly countries and the latest developments in the region and the world. The president also invited the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to visit the United States. They discussed the strategic partnership of the 21st century between the two countries and the importance of improving the economic, security and military cooperation between them. The Saudi King and President Trump emphasized the depth and strength of the strategic relations between the two countries.
President Donald Trump has decided to choose Saudi Arabia, an ally and partner with both secret and open agendas as on one of his foreign destinations on assuming power at White House three months ago. The White House announcement that US President would carry out his first foreign visit and that Saudi Arabia will be a major stop is a message on a major shift in his foreign policy priorities.
On May 4 President Donald Trump confirmed that his first foreign trip later this month will include visits to the Vatican, Saudi Arabia and Israel. The stops that his top aides hope will both combat views of the President abroad and build toward Middle East peace. The stops will come before Trump attends a NATO meeting in Brussels on May 25 and a G7 meeting in Italy on May 26. “Saudi Arabia is the custodian of the two holiest sites in Islam, and it is there that we will begin to construct a new foundation of cooperation and support with our Muslim allies to combat extremism, terrorism and violence, and to embrace a more just and hopeful future for young Muslims in their countries,” Trump said in announcing his trip during a Rose Garden ceremony where the he signed a religious liberty executive order. “Our task is not to dictate to others how to live, but to build a coalition of friends and partners who share the goal of fighting terrorism and bringing safety, opportunity and stability to the Middle East,” Trump said.
Trump will also meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican during his trip. According to a senior administration official, Trump feels like accomplishing Middle East peace by establishing a soverign Palestine state is “one of the things that he has to try to do” during his presidency and has been “very involved” with “a lot of ideas” during the trip’s planning.

To date, Trump has left the foreign travel to his top aides and Cabinet members, including Vice President Mike Pence, who has been on two international trips so far, national security adviser H.R. McMaster and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. He will visit Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Jerusalem, Israel, according to a senior administration official.
Besides meeting with Saudi officials, Trump will also meet with leaders of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and have lunch with leaders of more than 50 Muslim countries. In March, Trump hosted Saudi Arabia’s powerful Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the White House, aiming to rolling back Iranian influence in the region. Saudi Arabia hailed a “historical turning point” in U.S.-Saudi relations. “This meeting is considered a historical turning point in relations between both countries and which had passed through a period of divergence of views on many issues,” a senior adviser to Prince Mohammed said in a statement.
There is also a clear interest among top aides in the White House to counter the view Trump has cultivated abroad. “Saudi Arabia is going to convene a lot of the leaders from the Muslim world, and you will see that there is a lot of objectives they share with America,” one senior administration official said.
Trump’s election has provided the USA with opportunities to “re-engage the world,” the officials said, given Trump’s perceived unpredictability and that he is “not dogmatic to one school of thought, (rather) open-minded, flexible and opportunistic.” With a view to gain Christian and Jewish voters, Trump ran on a ban of Muslims entering America, proposing the in a December 2015 announcement a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” until American officials could get a handle on terror. While his campaign slowly backed away from that pledge, one of Trump’s first actions in the White House was to push a travel ban for seven – and eventually six – Muslim majority countries.
The senior officials said it’s a time when the Trump government can pursue policies that “strengthen our hand and weaken our enemies.” “Certain things will be formalized and announced in the time leading up to the visit,” one senior administration official said.
A senior official said that a recent visit to Saudi Arabia revealed open-mindedness to stepping up and leading in a way the official had not seen in the country since right after 9/11 hoax engineered to generate global sympathy for the subsequent US invasion of an Islamizing Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, among others. Both Afghanistan and Pakistan remain destabilized but the USA or NATO rogue states refuse to take responsibility.
A Whitehouse spokesperson says: “Saudi Arabia realizes the challenges it , according to Israel, stems from the Obama government’s nuclear deal with Iran, which they view as providing a path to a nuclear weapon for the country, as well as Iran’s continued funding of terrorism throughout the region. The officials add USA has been working hard to produce a “meaningful set of deliverables” to be announced around the trip.
Trump’s top advisers insist the President is focused on making deals with foreign leaders in a bid to create a more secure planet, despite the lack of foreign travel. They point to frequent visits from foreign leaders — including the most recent visit of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas — as proof that Trump has influence on foreign affairs from the White House.
The televised interview of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz clarified the stances from these issues that are expected to be part of the discussions in Riyadh. Regarding Syria, Riyadh eased its stance to reach a political solution that satisfies Russia and doesn’t grant the regime and its allies a free hand. In the Astana talks, there were two prime developments – approval to differentiate national factions from terrorists and readiness to establish safe zones, two of Trump’s pledges while campaigning for the presidency. On the Yemeni war, the deputy crown prince was persuasive when he boldly admitted that the rush in liberating Sana’a and other cities might cause huge losses on both sides of the conflict. “Time is in our favor and we are not in a rush. We can liberate it in two days with a costly human price or liberate it slowly with fewer losses,” he said.
The Muslim Brotherhood is a unified group from Gulf, Egyptian, Sudanese, Tunisian and other nationalities. The Arab “permanent” rulers are scared of the MB and made a united front to defeat it and they have thrown and defeated the first ever elected government of Egypt Mohamad Morsi by staging a military coup as Morse could not foresee the military plans. The group tried to besiege the government in Egypt and by guiding the Egyptians against it as well as urging the region’s people to cut ties with it. Trump reversed the foreign policy of Obama who had boycotted the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The Egyptian government claims to be stronger than when President Mohamed Morsi’s government was ousted more than three years ago.
Riyadh will be looking for assurances that the Trump administration will continue its notably harsher tone toward Iran and keep up pressure, through both rhetoric and action, to stop what Saudi Arabia sees as Tehran’s destabilizing activities in the region. Iran is a huge concern for Riyadh and the USA as well as other Sunni governments in the region. The Trump government has called the nuclear agreement with Iran “the worst deal ever negotiated,” and senior officials have repeatedly criticized Iran’s behavior for its support for Assad, its ballistic missile activities and its support for militant groups in the region.

Iran, which has been accused of exposing sectarian fault lines in the region, especially in Yemen, Syria and Iraq, tried to soften its rhetoric as Rouhani said there should be greater unity between Shiites and Sunnis and that they had coexisted side by side peacefully for hundreds of years. The main motivation behind the visit seems to be Trump’s policies and his eagerness to better relations with Saudi Arabia, which was abandoned in the era of former US President Obama. The deputy crown prince said President Trump has already delivered clear messages against the policies of the Tehran regime in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and the Gulf waters.
The Mideast trip is meant to show that Trump’s “America First” motto is “fully compatible with American leadership in the world,” another official said. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the President’s first trip came after King Salman bin Abd Al-Aziz of Saudi Arabia, President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority extended invites to Trump.
Trump’s first foreign trip is coming later in his presidency than any president since Lyndon B. Johnson, who waited over 10 months after President John F. Kennedy was killed to travel abroad. He is also the first president since Carter to not make his first trip to Mexico or Canada.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has received an invitation from King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud to attend an upcoming summit in Riyadh between Muslim leaders and US President Donald Trump. King Salman said the Arab-Islamic-American Summit on 20-21 May aimed to address the challenges facing the Arab and Muslim worlds and to forge a new partnership to fight extremism and tolerance. “The summit will aim to strengthen our peoples’ security, stability and cooperation in the present and in the future by spreading the values of tolerance and peaceful co-habitation,” read the letter. Abbas was visiting Jordan on the first leg of a three-nation trip that also takes in Russia and India. He met Trump in Washington earlier this month and was among the first ten foreign leaders to do so.

Separate meetings will also take place in Riyadh between monarchs of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council and Trump, as well as bilateral talks between the Saudi and US leaders, according to Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir.

 

Observation

President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia is the first stop on his maiden international trip since taking office in January. U.S. and Saudi officials are eager to highlight the powerful symbolism of an American president choosing to visit the birthplace of Islam as his first stop rather than to neighbors Canada or Mexico.
After turbulent years, President Trump meets Saudi princes in Riyadh as he can expect a warmer welcome than the one given a year ago to his predecessor Barack Obama, who Riyadh considered soft on arch foe Iran and cool toward a bilateral relationship that is a mainstay of the Middle East’s security balance.
Trump’s visit “sends a clear message that the U.S. is standing with its close allies in the region and that they’re not abandoning them,” a senior Saudi official told Reuters, reflecting the view many Gulf leaders had of Obama, who they considered had made securing a nuclear deal with Iran a higher priority than the U.S.-Gulf alliance.

 

Trump’s shapeless foreign policy!

Trump’s shapeless foreign policy!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
______

 

US President Donald Trump is in his initial stage of his presidency, only trying fix his role in the committee of nations and in intentional politics where America always managed to play the lead role in whatever manner.
President Donald Trump has years of foreign policy decisions to go before he can comprehensively restore US prestige or make USA great. There exists not enough space to enumerate the ways Obama weakened American power made the world a distinctly more dangerous place by his own attacks on Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan and indirectly Syria. Genocides, destructions and destabilization were the hall mark of Bush-Obama foreign policy.
President Trump’s supporters claim that his decision to strike Syria was a strong and swift declaration of American values and the president’s rationale was refreshingly simple and clear. Last month the nascent Trump government chose to forego the now absurd “red line” but spoke through the US military, responding with a missile strike on Syria a mere two days after Assad’s latest chemical attack on civilians.

Weak legacy

When Trump took over the White House he in fact inherited a weak America which is clearly diminishing of its standing in the world owing to several reasons, mainly the Russian challenge, Iranian outmaneuvering ability and North Korean capacity to pursue its nuclear goals.
Syria, Russia and Iran remains the major thrust of concerns for the US strategists and the powerful Neocon elements, dominated by hard core Jews who control US foreign policy beyond West Asia.
Syrian leader Assad and has survived albeit with a great deal of destruction, genocides and destabilization thanks only to the open support extended by the Kremlin- a close military ally of Iran, the self proclaimed Shiite leader in West Asia that has taken the responsibility of protecting the Shiite regimes against the will of Sunni leader Saudi Arabia which still wants to see Persia also gets destabilized, possibly as the end process that began with the invasion and destabilization of an Islamizing Afghanistan.
Russian back up had made a fast falling Assad energetic and strong, bold. A year after President Barack Obama issued Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime a “red line” on the use of chemical weapons, Assad manifestly crossed the line with a chemical attack that killed more than 1,400 civilians. Rather than acting decisively on his pledge, Obama first dithered and then demurred to Congress for approval of a strike on Syria. Of course, the strike never materialized, and Assad’s brutality went unchallenged and unpunished for years.
While the European Union faced its existential crisis with the Brexit, and NATO appeared confused about its own reasons for existence, Russian strongman Vladimir Putin continued to exert Moscow’s influence over weaker neighbors. Latest appointment of an Armenian Armed Forces General, Yuri Khachaturov, as head of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, commonly known as “Putin’s NATO” illustrated the degree of the Kremlin’s sway over its neighbors. A former Soviet republic, Armenia is filled with Russian military bases and weapons, and its external borders are guarded by the Russian security officers. Khachaturov’s appointment proves that, even in the Moscow-dominated world of its Eurasian satellites, Armenia stands out as an ultra-loyal and dependent Russian vassal.
Russia last November strategically placed its nuclear-capable Iskander ballistic missiles in its exclave of Kaliningrad, right next to America’s NATO Baltic allies, and announced plans to do the same in its annexed territory of Crimea—essentially threatening the entire Black Sea region. In addition to areas Russia controls directly, Moscow placed the Iskander in two of its regional proxies and satellites: Armenia and Syria. Apparently for Russia, the difference between the territories it formally deems its own, and the failed states it effectively controls, is very symbolic.
These are a clear effort by Russia to deny military advantage to NATO forces and to assert geographic dominance. The first major test for President Trump came when Moscow-backed Assad carried out April’s chemical attack, defying the former Obama red line. Trump responded in force. Possibly Russia-Iran-Syria trio had not foreseen that.
Iran is now one of the biggest oil exporters to South Korea and has steadily increased its exports since the lifting of sanctions associated with its nuclear program in January 2016. Iran became the second largest oil exporter to South Korea in the first three months of 2017, delivering a record 18.54 million barrels. South Korea will be under pressure to import more oil and gas from the US, having ramped up Iranian imports in recent months to the displeasure of Washington.

The USA has sent the first batch of its heavy armaments to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units or YPG. Speaking to Sputnik Turkiye, former Turkish Ambassador to the US Faruk Logoglu reacted to the delivery, calling it a “diplomatic slap in the face of Turkey.” The armament and armed vehicles were sent by land from the Iraqi Kurdistan and then sent to Rojava autonomous region in northern Syria, he said. It was further sent to Kobani, a city in the Aleppo Governorate and the Tell Abyad District within the Raqqa Governorate. This weaponry, the source said, will be used in the ongoing offensive to liberate Raqqa from Daesh

Support for Ukraine government

Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of US senators on May 8 sent a letter to President Donald Trump encouraging him to prioritize meeting with President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine before meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 conference in July. Identifying the importance of engaging longstanding American allies as a priority for the foreign policy agenda of the new administration, the letter also recommends increased support for institutions and European governments that help preserve the international order. “As your Administration continues to formulate policies to promote American national security and foreign policy interests, we are writing to strongly encourage you to engage with our traditional allies and prioritize meeting with foreign leaders representing countries with whom we share historical ties, democratic values, and mutual interests,” wrote the senators. “Meeting with democratically elected representatives from Ukraine would send a strong signal that the United States continues to prioritize our relationship with longstanding allies, and will continue our commitments to support Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of ongoing aggression.”
A meeting in Washington, D.C., between President Trump and Ukraine’s President, they say, would be a critical sign of support for peace in the region, as US support for Ukraine now is imperative to its survival. Russia’s unrelenting hybrid warfare in Ukraine is destabilizing the international world order. The massive build-up of Russian troops along Ukraine’s eastern border and recent escalating attacks in the eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk are continuously threatening Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. The USA must take definitive action to help stabilize the transnational, trans-Atlantic security framework, which clearly serves our national interests as Americans. Without U.S. support and a commitment to peace, the crisis in Ukraine is only likely to escalate,” they noted. They argued that, “As the bastion of democracy in the Free World, the United States must take the lead in promoting international norms and consolidating geo-political stability,” and they urged Trump “to affirm the United States’ commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” They cited security concerns that should be highlighted by the USA.
Trump to meet Putin

Recently, Russia’s top diplomat Sergei Lavrov met US President Donald Trump and praised his government as problem solvers, just as the White House drew criticism over the firing of the FBI director who was leading a probe into Moscow’s alleged interference in US politics. The talks with Foreign Minister were the highest-level public contact between Trump and the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin since the Republican took office on January 20. While not unprecedented, it is a rare privilege for a foreign minister to be received by a US president for a bilateral meeting in the White House.
A meeting between Putin and Trump is likely to happen under the auspices of the G20 summit in Hamburg in Germany in July and that it was important that their meeting brought tangible results.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov raised the issue of the compounds during a Washington visit. Former US president Barack Obama ordered the expulsion of the 35 Russians in late December and imposed sanctions on two Russian intelligence agencies over what he said was their involvement in hacking political groups in the November 8 US presidential election. Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the time he would not retaliate immediately and would wait until at least US President-elect Donald Trump took office on January 20 before deciding what action to take.
Russia retaliates against the USA for the Obama government’s expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats it said were spies. Moscow is also waiting for the return of two diplomatic compounds seized in the USA during the same espionage scandal, Yuri Ushakov, a Kremlin foreign policy aide, said. “We are waiting for the return of Russian diplomatic property illegally impounded before the New Year by the previous US authorities,” Ushakov told a news briefing. “We decided not to respond immediately to this escapade, but no-one has yet abolished the principle of reciprocity in diplomacy … Our patience is not without limits,” he said, saying Russian retaliation could not be ruled out.

Observation

Americans voted for Trump mainly because they wanted to punish Obama-Mrs. Clinton for their mishandling of the world, especially their crimes in West Asia.
Speculations were ripe about a possible collaboration between USA and Russia in Syria under Trump presidency. But the US attack on Syria put to end such speculative exercises.
Trump apparently is confused and he is confusing the world as well. He si trying to do exactly his predecessors Bush and Obama have done. Possibly the notorious Neocons with their regime change agenda in Arab world continue to mislead the new US president as well.  In a stunning development, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, whose agency is investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election and the possibility Trump associates may have colluded with Moscow.
Trump has not formed any clear cut idea about how he would handle Israel and free Palestinians from the Zionist fascist clutches and their children from Israel’s military bombs supplied by USA. One is not sure if what he said about solving the Kashmir issue would be a sincere intent or just rhetoric to get maximum money from a badly stressed India through Indian corporate lords as service charges.
Trump should show the world that America will not blur its red lines. Flying in the face of concerns about his “support for Putin”, the president showed, by striking Syria, that he is willing to stand up to Russia.

 

 

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