June 14, 2017

How Trump’s Black and White World View Met Reality in the Middle East

By Ilan Goldenberg and Tamara Cofman Wittes

It was only three weeks ago that President Donald Trump, in Riyadh, proclaimed that he had secured unprecedented unity amongst Sunni governments to fight the two scourges all the assembled 55 governments agreed were destabilizing the Middle East — Islamist extremism and Iran. That unity lasted mere days, however, as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, and Bahrain cut off relations with Qatar and essentially imposed a blockade on the country, which imports 40 percent of its food across its land border with Saudi Arabia.

The fierce eruption of this intra-Arab split threatens to undermine key American goals in the Middle East, at a particularly delicate moment. Trump’s swift embrace of the Saudi side in this family argument exacerbates the danger and undermines his own declared goals. The administration’s current approach has launched the United States into the middle of a slew of regional rivalries and may well exacerbate the geopolitical conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia — one with significant religious and sectarian undercurrents.

Read the full article on Foreign Policy.

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