“I think Islam.. hates us.”
“I watched when the WTC came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down.”
“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
Perhaps that’s the word that best describes Trump’s language when talking about Islam during his Presidential election campaign.
Certainly this is the word that best describes Trump’s policies towards Muslims and the Middle East. His travel ban sparked protests throughout the world. His choice to drop the “mother of all bombs” on Syria raised questions on his true intentions in the Middle East.
It was clear that Trump was steering towards a more “hostile” policy in the Middle East.
Yet, Sunday, a change of heart seemed to have occurred.
In the early evening in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, President Trump stood and delivered a powerful message of unity to the Middle Eastern world. Trump focused on the subject of terrorism, urging Arab leaders to work closely with the United States to eradicate terrorism.
“This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations,” Trump said. “This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it.”
This, of course, seems like a complete turn-around for Trump, who claimed that there was a “great hatred over [in the Middle East]” against the United States.
In a past article I have written on this blog, I raised questions about Trump’s goals in the Middle East.
I emphasized Trump’s need to tell Middle Eastern nations that the United States cares about Arab interests. I felt he needed to show a positive attitude towards solving problems in the Middle East, especially terrorism.
As someone who has felt very uneasy about some of Trump’s policies, I felt that Trump’s speech today was a step in the right direction, at least in terms of foreign policy in the Middle East.
Middle Eastern leaders are probably suspicious of Trump’s recent calls of unity, but still it is reassuring to know that Trump is looking to improve relations with Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern allies.
Trump’s speech was not all-unifying, though, as he had harsh words for Iran. Trump pushed for neighboring nations to “isolate” Iran, who he claimed was responsible for “spreading destruction and chaos throughout the region.”
A policy of “isolating” Iran would mark the end of the United States’ recent goals to work together with Iran, most specifically the progress made during the Obama administration.
Still, following Trump’s extreme and harsh rhetoric towards the Middle East, it is good to see Trump making attempts to set a new course and work together with the leaders in the Persian Gulf region towards achieving mutual goals.