Saudi foreign minister ‘optimistic’ about incoming Trump administration

by WorldTribune Staff, January 17, 2017

Saudi Arabia is enthused about what it is hearing from U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.

The president-elect has pledged to restore American influence in the world, defeat Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), and contain Iran, the Saudi foreign minister said.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir. /Reuters

“We are optimistic about the incoming administration and look forward to working with it in all areas that are a concern for both of us,” Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told reporters in Paris on Jan. 16.

“We will look at the Trump administration’s view as articulated. Wanting to restore America’s role in the world, we welcome this. Wanting to defeat ISIL, absolutely. Wanting to contain Iran … absolutely.”

A WorldTribune and Geostrategy-Direct editor who met recently with senior Saudi officials in Riyadh said there intense interest and concerns about the intentions of the incoming administration.

Jubeir said Saudi interests aligned with those of the incoming Trump administrations, be it geopolitically – in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Iran – or on energy and financial issues.

“The objectives we want to achieve are the same. We may have disagreements on how to get there, but we don’t disagree on what needs to be done, and that will not change,” he said.

When asked about Saudi-Iran relations, Jubeir responded that it “takes two to tango.”

“Our relationship with Iran is tense and it’s a function of its aggressive and hostile policies. It would be wonderful to live in peace and harmony with Iran, but we can’t be subject to death and destruction and expect to turn the other cheek. We tried, but it didn’t work.”

Jubeir added that proposed talks in the Kazakh capital Astana aimed at reaching a ceasefire in Syria were worth testing, but should not be construed as Riyadh abandoning moderate rebels fighting to topple Iranian-backed President Bashar Assad.

“The objective is to arrive at a ceasefire and move on to the political process,” he said. “Let’s test it. So far it hasn’t succeeded. If it does, then we go down the political path, but that doesn’t mean we abandon the moderate opposition.”