At his first foreign trip to Saudi Arabia, President Donald Trump received a royal welcome from the Saudi leadership.
Trump had long criticized his opponent Hillary Clinton for accepting money from the oil-rich Arab nation, however, he did the same during his trip. According to a document, the White House received at least 83 separate gifts from Saudi Arabia.
The gifts include “artwork featuring picture of President Trump” to the martial (multiple swords, daggers, leather ammo holders and holsters), to the baroque (tiger and cheetah fur robes, and a dagger made of pure silver with a mother of pearl sheath) and a “large canvas artwork depicting [a] Saudi woman.
That is not all. Trump was also given the highest civilian honor, "Collar of Abdulaziz Al Saud," the gold King Abdul Aziz medal. In return of the royal treatment, the president agreed to a defense cooperation deal with the Saudis, pledging $110 billion effective immediately and up to $350 billion over 10 years. There have been agreements over private sector matters, too.
It is not too far-fetched to assume that the money will be used to bomb the neighboring Yemen, where the U.N. reports that 4773 civilians have been killed, a majority of them by airstrikes, since the conflict began in 2015.
It also is not a sweeping assessment that the military aid will be used to further the Saudi fundamentalists influence on other countries. The aid will also be pivotal in Saudi Arabia's ideological battle against Iran.
Trump caused a stir when he announced he would visit Saudi Arabia during his first trip abroad partly because he broke the long going presidential tradition of visiting neighboring countries, i.e. Mexico or Canada, first.
“Trump’s decision to visit Saudi first clearly signaled his top prioritization of America’s most profitable relationship with its number one weapons client in the world,” Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa Division.
Trump’s visit was also criticized as he failed to address the issue of human rights with the Saudi leadership. He lavished praise by calling the kingdom “magnificent” but failed to call them out for the abysmal human rights record.
On the contrary, former President Barack Obama raised human rights concerns during his visit to Saudi Arabia. Human rights were a regular part of the dialogue with the Saudis under the Bush administration as well.
Banner / Thumbnail : Reuters, Jonathan Ernst