"Drive them out! Drive them out!" With these words, Pres. Donald J. Trump sounded the alarm against the evils of Islamic terrorism, which has led to the genocide, murder, torture, enslavement, and horrible injuries of people on every continent, and against more Muslims than against any other group. He emphasized that the USA is not going to define or even try to define the cultural values of the (Sunni) Islamic world. Nonetheless, for the preservation of their values, and for the sake of nation states throughout the world, the Saudis and every other Islamic nation within hearing distance of Trump's speech should drive out and destroy the evil, subversive tide of terrorism.
But here is the $64,000 question: are the above agreements and the willingness of Sunni Arab dignitaries to sit through Trump's speech worth the paper they are written on or the time spent sitting on their robed behinds? Trump's remarks attempted to be critical, aggressive, and respectful, all at the same time. Because no shoes were thrown at him, as happened once to Pres. George W. Bush in Iraq in 2008, and because he was not booed, nor did any of the attendees walk out in disgust, it might be tempting to infer that there was tacit support for his words. However, for this writer, disciplined rear ends that can sit without becoming overtly restless are in no way an assurance of either attentiveness or agreement.
Despite the "art of the deal," no deal can guarantee compliance, especially in the realm of international politics, where no real enforcement procedures are in place. Trust is the basis for true agreements. For there to be trust, there needs to be a relational history justifying trust. That relational history does not exist between us and the Sunni Arab world. At the highest levels of Middle Eastern politics, the name of the game is "duplicity."
Further, the attempt by President Trump to link anti-terrorism with the biggest arms deal ever with the Saudis is disingenuous. The fact is that Saudi Arabia has been the number-one purchaser of U.S. armaments since 2011, although no previous deal was quite as large as this one. One may ask, to what extent have these purchases contributed to a lessening of Islamic terrorism since 2011? In fact, terrorism in the Middle East has increased since that time, not lessened.
As of the writing of this article, Saudi Arabia is being sued for complicity in the 9/11 attacks. Higher-ups in the Saudi governmental bureaucracy – wealthy scions of a hereditary monarchy (thus, anti-democratic to the core) – are accused by the families of deceased Americans of financing this atrocious attack on U.S. citizens of every religion in 2001. The suit asserts that "through a network of the kingdom's officers, employees and/or agents," Saudia Arabia was behind the most vicious attack ever launched on our homeland.
During the past few years, various investigative journalists have pointed their fingers at Saudi Arabia for having channeled money to ISIS and al-Qaeda. Further, in a powerful evaluation of Saudi complicity in radical Islam, Saudi Arabia has been properly portrayed as the inspiration for radical Islam because of Saudi Arabia's promotion of the rigid, simplistic, and cruel version of Islam known as Wahhabism. Further, although the Saudis officially were glad to be rid of Pres. Mohamed Morsi, representing the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, even the N.Y. Times noted that there is a new rapprochement between the Saudis and the Muslim Brotherhood leaders in certain parts of Yemen. Even as early as 2014, the Saudis, Qatar, and Kuwait were being cited as sources of support for terrorism.
The duplicity and shifting policies are never-ending among the Saudis and other Middle East players. In 2015, the Carnegie Endowment for Peace announced that there was a pivot by Hamas, an Iran-backed and financed terrorist group operating in Gaza, away from Iran and toward the Saudis. Yet, less than a year later, Hamas was depicted by another news outlet as trying to choose between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Shortly afterward, the leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, was angered by contact between leaders of Saudi Arabia and Israel.
This writer sees an Arab world in a state of continuous intrigue and sinister plots. We do not see stable alliances like NATO, the European Union, or even the Organization of American States. Rather, we see the willingness of Iran, representing the Shiite Muslims, vying with the Saudis and other Sunni states, to support terror groups and vicious groups within the Muslim world. It is not a simple picture of the Iranian Shiites vs. the anti-terrorist Sunni countries. Intrigues and pro-death agendas infect both divisions of Islam.
Let us also be aware that Qatar has also been a strong supporter of the terrorist organization al-Qaeda operating through the Al-Nusra front organization in Syria. Al-Qaeda is fighting ISIS, but this is part of the internecine warfare between different terror-oriented organizations, not a fight between "good guys" and "bad guys." Can the reader of this article begin to understand the dark underbelly, the sinister thread, involved with Sunni Muslim phony commitment to anti-terrorism?
By all means, let us "drive out, drive out" the evil ones, the terroristic ones, but let us not adjust to a simplistic understanding of what this means. We must remain ever vigilant, lest we be slain by our own weapons and our own rhetoric.