President Trump seeks reform, not intervention, on Middle East trip

World Today

What does President Trump’s speech – and this visit to Riyadh – mean for U.S. foreign policy?

CGTN’s Nathan King reports.

President Trump seeks reform, not intervention, on Middle East trip

The policy is a big departure from the Obama administration which had hoped to bring Iran back into the international community with the nuclear deal. And while the Trump administration is staying with that deal inked with other world powers for now, its rhetoric against Iran is heating up.

The U.S. President delivered the speech but said the United States was not there to lecture.

From now on, Trump said, the U.S. would seek gradual reform in the region, not sudden intervention. He talked of a policy of “principled realism.”

On terrorism, gone was Trump’s campaign rhetoric of Islam hating the U.S. Instead, he chose to label terrorism as evil.

“The president is clearly indicating that this fight of good against evil has nothing to do with religion. It has nothing to do with country. It has nothing to do with ethnicity. It is purely a fight against good and evil,” Rex Tillerson, U.S. Secretary of State said.

Mr. Trump did ask Arab nations to do more in confronting groups like ISIL and his officials, speaking from Riyadh, said development of the region was dependent on stamping out the threat.

Trump’s Saudi hosts are likely pleased there was no confrontation with Islam but critics have accused Saudi Arabia and other Arab states of not always prioritizing the fight against Sunni Islamic terrorism over battling Iran.

On Iran, Trump and his officials called Tehran a regime, responsible for so much instability in the region.

“Iran continues its hegemonic activities in this region in Yemen, in Iraq, in Syria, in its support of Hezbollah in Lebanon. And until Iran shows its willingness to be a good neighbor, I think it’s the words that were used by many,” Tillerson said.

The policy is a big departure from the Obama administration which had hoped to bring Iran back into the international community with the nuclear deal. And while the Trump administration is staying with that deal inked with other world powers for now, its rhetoric against Iran is heating up.

This, of course, happening just after a big election with a massive turnout returned Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani to power, an advocate of working with the outside world including the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.

The tough talk on Iran will continue as the U.S. President travels to Israel Monday. But, there could be differences with Israel on the way forward on peace with the Palestinians over Israeli concerns that Washington may not move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as promised.