The meeting between Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman and US President Donald Trump has been described as a reset in the US-Saudi relationship, which hit an all-time low during the Obama administration.
According to, Bernard Haykel, an expert on Middle East affairs, if the two sides agree, much progress can be made on containing Iran, defeating ISIS and al-Qaeda and helping resolve the Israeli-Palestine conflict.
Trade and investment
“The two sides are also likely to find ways to create jobs in the United States through trade and investment, a subject dear to Mr. Trump,” Haykal wrote in an opinion piece published by The Washington Times.
Bernard Haykel is professor of Near Eastern Studies and the Director of the Institute for Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia at Princeton University.
In his piece Haykel writes that President Obama rejected Saudi warnings and turned a blind eye toward Iran’s interventionist policies in the Middle East.
“Tehran tried to dominate Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen and take advantage of chaos in those countries.
It mobilized its considerable resources to indoctrinate, train and arm Shiite groups such as Hezbollah, the Houthis and the Hashd al-Shaabi whose aim is to undermine local stability and American influence”.
Haykel also says that Trump’s key advisers have made clear that Iran’s activities must stop and that Mr. Obama’s policies of appeasement are over.
On Iranian meddling in Gulf countries he says this has fueled Yemen’s civil war and created vacuums that al-Qaeda and ISIS have been able to fill.
“Nonetheless, a strong US-Saudi statement that Iran’s intervention in Yemen will no longer be tolerated is much needed.
The future of Yemen and security in the Middle East are at stake,” he said. According to him, war against extremism is another area of agreement between the Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and the Trump administration.
He said he expects them to announce increased anti-terrorism cooperation around the world.
“More complicated will be aligning on ways to end the Israeli-Palestine conflict. Saudi leaders want Israel to endorse the Palestinian goal of statehood or to at least move in that direction.
In return, Riyadh would publicly accept Israel as a sovereign nation as it promised to do in King Abdullah’s 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.
Saudi Arabia would also work to persuade the Palestinians to accept the deal.
But the Saudis won’t sell the Palestinians short to make such a compromise,” Haykel wrote in the piece.