A “senior advisor to Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman” released an enthusiastic statement following yesterday’s meeting between the Prince and President Trump, calling the meeting a “huge success.”
Observers of the U.S.-Saudi relationship will read the full text of the statement closely. It provides some insight into the thinking of Saudi leaders on the possibilities of a renewed relationship under President Trump.
The 80-year U.S.-Saudi relationship has proven durable regardless of which party controls the White House. But Saudi Arabia believes that President Donald Trump will provide the Kingdom a much desired reset from his predecessor, Barack Obama.
Here are seven takeaways from the Saudi statement following the meeting.
1. Saudi Optimism for a Significant Improvement in Relations is High
It’s early, but Saudi Arabia believes that it will see an improvement with President Trump over the Obama administration. While this was not a surprise, the unnamed senior advisor took the rare step of describing the Obama administration’s policies as a period of a “difference of opinion.”
“Relations had undergone a period of difference of opinion. However, today’s meeting has put things on the right track,” the advisor said.
2. Saudi Arabia Does Not See Trump’s Travel Bans as Anti-Muslim
The senior advisor said that Saudi Arabia “does not believe that this measure is targeting Muslim countries or the religion of Islam…information from Saudi Arabia confirms indeed the existence of a plot against the United States of America that has been planned in those countries in secret by those groups that took advantage of what they assume a security weakness to conduct operations against the United States of America. His Excellency expressed his understanding and support for this vital and urgent precaution measure to protect the United States of America from expected terrorist operations.”
3. Saudi Arabia Has Had Success with a Border Wall
Saudi Arabia discussed with the Trump administration its success in securing the Kingdom’s borders. The advisor said both sides “discussed the Saudi successful experience in building a fence on the Saudi-Iraqi border, which led to preventing illegal entrance of individuals, as well as preventing smuggling operations.”
The Trump administration plans to spend billions to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
The Security of the Kingdom’s borders is paramount to its continued stability with ongoing conflicts raging in Iraq and Yemen.
4. Both Sides See ‘Huge’ Investment Opportunities
Both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia are keen to increase bilateral investments, and leaders on both sides see the opportunities available as “huge.”
According to the source, the discussion at the White House “included huge Saudi investments in the United States of America in addition to exceptionally and largely providing American companies with the opportunities to enter the Saudi market.”
The advisor said the discussion to increase U.S.-Saudi investment “would not have been achieved without President Trump’s efforts to improve the climate for investments inside the United States of America.”
5. No More Minced Words on Iran’s Nuclear Program
Saudi Arabia took its strongest stand yet against the P5+1 deal with Iran over its nuclear program, which the Trump administration has criticized and threatened to roll back. The advisor said that Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “has stressed how bad and very dangerous the nuclear deal is on the region…This deal could lead to a more dangerous and continuous armament among the region’s countries that will not accept any Iranian nuclear military capacity.”
6. Saudi Arabia is Optimistic that Trump Will Be Tougher on Iran
Saudi Arabia lashes out at Iran’s regional meddling and hopes that President Trump will take a tougher stance against it. “The President and the Deputy Crown Prince share the same views on the gravity of the Iranian expansionist moves in the region,” the advisor said. “Iran’s support of terrorist organization such as Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, ISIS and others along with its obstructing of any deal to settle the Palestinian issue, as a form of exporting its issues abroad, are nothing but another attempt to the gain the legitimacy it lacks among Muslims.”
7. Vision 2030 = Make America Great Again?
Saudi Arabia sees its bold Vision 2030 plans as similar in ambition to the campaign promises made by President Trump to “Make America Great Again.” According to the advisor, “The two sides expressed their agreement on the importance of the great change that President Trump is leading in the U.S, which coincides with the undergoing change in Saudi Arabia through Vision 2030.”