“One Orb to Rule Them All”? Trump’s Strange Mideast “Anti-Terror” Tour

“Arab NATO”? President Trump links arms with Arab sponsors of Sunni-aligned terrorists, with the supposed aim of combatting Iran and its Shia-aligned terrorists.

During the 2016 presidential election campaign, Candidate Donald Trump stirred up a hornet’s nest of protest amongst the internationalist set with his criticism of NATO and his comments that other NATO nations “aren’t paying their fair share.” Trump’s critics and supporters speculated that, if elected, he might favor withdrawing the U.S. from the NATO alliance. Now, it appears, he favors creating another NATO, a new US-Mideast alliance that is being referred to as an “Arab NATO.”

President Trump’s first official trip abroad — to Saudi Arabia, Jerusalem, the Vatican, and Brussels, Belgium — began with a strategic meeting on Sunday, May 21, in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. Besides netting the Saudi kingdom a handsome $110 billion military aid package, the Riyadh visit, hosted by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, featured an odd ceremony that created an instant Internet buzz. In dedicating the new Global Centre for Combating Extremist Ideology, President Trump joined King Salman and Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in a high-tech Command & Control Center of the new institution, where the three leaders placed their hands on a glowing orb in the image of the Earth.

Twitter, Facebook, and other social media lit up with images of the event accompanied by comments (some joking, others serious) comparing the ceremony to scenes from Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, The Avengers, and Captain America, in which archvillains covet crystal orbs or cubes that possess mysterious powers. However, while the significance of the imagery surrounding the Riyadh gathering may be speculative, the political realities flowing from it are profoundly troubling. The new Trump diplomatic venture signals a formal alignment with the “Arab Street” in the ongoing political-sectarian conflict between Arabs and Iranians, Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims. He specifically called out the government of Iran by name 11 times in his address to the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh.


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