Trump visit draws country singer Toby Keith to Saudi Arabia

Posted May 20, 2017

In a break with tradition, the President will head to Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican and then Belgium and Italy for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and G7 meetings on his first trip overseas.

Writing in Al-Watan daily - in a translation made available by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) - Ali Sa'd Al-Moussa, an academic and writer, began with a scathing attack upon former President Barack Obama, whom he described as "infamous", arguing that he had never delivered on any of his promises.

However, under the Trump administration, relations have warmed and the USA is fully supporting Saudi Arabia in its regional role.

"This is as much a sign of Saudi regional leadership" as of U.S. assertiveness, and aims to show the extent to which the kingdom can gather key Muslim leaders, said Adam Baron, a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

This is said against the backdrop of the President's proposed travel bans against people from several Muslim-majority countries, which are now still mired in the courts.

A first summit on Saturday will see Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz meet with Trump; the second will include Trump and Arab Gulf leaders; and a third will see the USA president sit down with various Arab and Muslim leaders.

Trump will depart Washington on Friday for his first global trip as president, which will include stops in the Middle East and Europe.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani staked his political future on opening Iran ever so slightly to the outside world and overcoming hard-liners' opposition to secure a historic nuclear deal in exchange for relief. Senior administration officials have also criticised Iran's support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, its ballistic missile activities and backing for militant groups in the region.

Saudi entertainment website Lammt, which is advertising the event, says Saturday's free concert in the Saudi capital of Riyadh is open to men only.

In the wake of the previous U.S. administration's participation in the historic nuclear deal with Iran, Saudi Arabia is now seen to be attempting to restart positive relations with Washington.

Saudi Arabia was not concerned about sharing intelligence with the United States, despite a storm over reports that Trump had discussed intelligence with Russian Federation during a White House meeting last week, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir was quoted as saying by Saudi Gazette Friday.

The Saudi king says he wants to fight Islamic extremism, but Phillips worries whether the government can effectively go after terror groups that pose a threat to the region and the United States.

Controversially, Saudi Arabia was not on the list of countries affected by Trump'stravel ban.

Andreas Krieg, of the Defence Studies Department at King's College London, said King Salman is trying to use the USA to forge a "pan-Islamic alliance under Saudi leadership as a bulwark against jihadism and Iran".

On May 21, President Trump will attend the Arab Islamic American Summit at the King Abdulaziz Convention Center in Riyadh. "But they clearly see value in the USA economy and investments in the US", he said.

In Israel, Trump has hopes - though it is still unclear how - of reviving the moribund peace process, meeting both his "friend" Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in Bethlehem. Riyadh is taking upon itself the task of winning the intellectual war and defeating terrorism through tolerance and moderation.

The summit will address three critical areas of concern: US-Saudi relations, US-GCC relations and Islamic-American relations.

And in Sicily, the president will meet with the other leaders of the G7, a gathering of Western economic powers.

The kingdom's control of the holy sites has been criticized by Muslims around the world.