U.S. foreign policy has focused on Iran as the monster of the Middle East ever since the Ayatollah Khomeini inspired a revolution in 1979 that overthrew the Western-backed Shah of Iran.
With the election of President Donald Trump, some thought that policy might change.
Trump talked about working with the Russians to combat Mideast terrorism, and since the Russians are aligned with Iran and the Shia Muslim world, Trump’s comments were taken by some as a hint he would focus on battling Sunni terrorists affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaida, Boko Haram, El Shabab, al-Nusra Front and, most horrifically, the Islamic State.
But once in office Trump refused to declare the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, he bombed the Shia regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and now has heaped a $110 billion arms deal upon the Saudis.
It’s a good bet the Saudis will not use those arms against fellow Sunni extremists but rather against Iran’s proxy armies in Syria and Yemen, says a prominent author and Mideast analyst.
“Here is the thing,” says Joel Richardson. “The Sunnis are the most perverse, the most twisted, the most evil. They’re beheading, raping, and kidnapping their way across the Middle East.”
Yet, Richardson applauds Trump for placing the focus on Iran.
“The Iranians are by far the most powerful. Why? Because they’re far more sophisticated, playing far more intelligently,” he said. “They control Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut, and they represent the greatest, most immediate, existential threat to Israel.”
And, thanks to Obama’s nuclear deal, Iran will soon have an ace in the hole — the potential to eliminate Israel and potentially other enemies from the map.
“So right now, this is our priority, to subdue them, and this is why we are backing Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel as part of this coalition as well as Turkey against Iran,” Richardson said. “Everything Trump did needs to be understood side by side with the fact that, there are really only two options for us in the Middle East: We can either empower the Turks or the Saudis against Iran. Neither one of these is good, but of the two the Saudis are the better option.”
From the standpoint of Bible prophecy, Richardson said the biggest challenge for the Trump administration will be managing what he sees as an emerging clash between Iran and Turkey.
“Iran in the short term is the biggest threat but Turkey is by far is the biggest threat… the long-term goal must be to protect Israel,” he said.
Some conservatives were pleased by Trump’s tough stance on Islamic terrorism while standing in the heart of Islamic extremism – Saudi Arabia.
Blogger Dr. Rich Swier, for instance, wrote:
“While many will analyze the speech from various angles, I believe the most important sentence in the speech made by the President was: ‘If you choose the path of terror, your life will be empty, your life will be brief, and your soul will be condemned.’
“This one sentence denies the most basic tenant of Islam – martyrdom. …What Trump said was blasphemy in many Muslim majority countries.”
Trump did speak to the Sunni world when he said:
“A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists. Drive. Them. Out.
Drive them out of your places of worship.
Drive them out of your communities
Drive them out of your holy land, and
Drive them out of this Earth.”
Yet, Richardson and many others would tell you Sunni imams are more likely to harbor jihadists than to drive them out. Jihad — the idea that infidels must be conquered — has been an integral part of Islam for 1,400 years. And they needn’t be conquered by the sword — the Muslim Brotherhood is more than happy to conquer by civilization jihad, using mass migration, lawsuits and more prolific birth rates in place of guns and bombs.
Help defend the First Amendment right to expose the Muslim Brotherhood’s infiltration of America through your contribution to the legal defense of WND author David Gaubatz, whose “Muslim Mafia” has drawn the rage of Islamists.
Richardson, author of “Mystery Babylon: Unlocking the Bible’s Greatest Prophetic Mystery,” said Islam respects power, and to be taken seriously, a Western leader must project power. This is something President Obama was either unwilling or unable to do, preferring to speak more like a professor giving a lecture than a statesman on a mission to promote his country’s interest.
“The contrast between this administration and the last one in terms of the approach, and the reception it got in Saudi Arabia, it could not be more night and day,” Richardson said. “President Obama went to the Middle East and apologized for who we are, and pandered to the Islamic world, and was met with disrespect for the rest of his next eight years, and he left the Middle East in shambles, he left it in crisis mode, in one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent history as far as displaced refugees, he might as well of just dropped a bomb on the Middle East.”
And Obama’s approach to the Middle East was embodied by the famous bow to the Saudi king.
“The White House tried to deny that it was a bow, but it was clear to anyone who watched. With Trump, Saudi Arabia bowed to the United States,” Richardson said.
A deal with the devil?
Trump’s speech highlighted Iran as the greatest financier of terrorism in the Middle East.
“Technically that’s not true. Technically, it’s Saudi Arabia,” Richardson said. “Saudi Arabia is the source of more corruption in the earth than any other nation. Saudi Arabia is the single largest lobbying power in Washington today, and Saudi Arabia has put more money into the back pockets of American presidents, politicians, universities and foundation leaders than anybody in history. Saudi Arabia is the ideological and financial and religious womb of groups like al-Qaida, ISIS, Boko Horam, al-Shabab, Abu Sayyaf, and virtually every Wahhabi and Salafi-inspired jihadist group.”
Trump was accused by some of being too kind to the Saudis. But Richardson points out that he never called Islam a “religion of peace,” as Obama did.
“From a theological standpoint, I didn’t hear anything he said that was tremendously offensive, which is to be expected from politicians, who typically make all kinds of false statements pandering to the powers there,” Richardson said.
Trump announced the U.S. will work with the Saudis to set up a center to track financial networks aiding terrorist organizations.
“Here is the thing with the Saudis, although they have been the historical womb and the source of radical Sunni terrorism, today they are in the position of having to fight the monster they created,” Richardson said. “So we have this massive deal they entered into, purchasing $110 billion of weapons from us, producing American jobs, bolstering the American economy, but it is for the purpose of the Saudis fighting terrorism, primarily of course it will be Shia-Iranian terrorism they will fight.”
Saudis nationals, because of their oil wealth, are primarily welfare users who don’t work, “but in Yemen they are dirt poor,” Richardson said. “So you have a massive crisis in Yemen where Iran has been stirring them up, so most of the weapons they purchase will be used to bring pressure on Iran.”
Conflict with Iran ‘coming to a head’
Some worry the weapons could be used against Israel. Richardson doesn’t think that will happen.
“No, not in the short term. The trajectory of the region is there is a conflict with Iran that is coming to a head, and these weapons will be used against Yemeni rebels and as leverage against Iran,” he said. “Trump came out and he demanded toward the end of his speech – ‘drive them out, drive them out of your places of worship, out of your holy land and out of this earth.’ So if there is one issue Trump has to follow up on it is this appeal to not simply go after Iran but to also pursue the monsters they have created within Sunni Islam, which include ISIS and all these Salafi groups, and so Trump has to follow up and make sure they are legitimately driving them out.”
Trump ‘has discernment’
The Middle East has long been the most humbling region of the world for U.S. presidents, but Trump seems to have an intuition that suits him well in the region, Richardson said.
“It’s the most difficult, most complex region and it requires a bit of prophetic foresight, a bit of finesse, and as strange as it may sound, president Trump actually has a bit of a gift for discernment,” he said. “I actually think he understands the complexity of the region somewhat and he did as good of a job as could have been expected, and now we have to pray that he will continue in the right direction.”
The so-called “two-state solution” could be Trump’s achilli’s heel, the stumbling block that ruins an otherwise bold and enlightened foreign policy, Richardson said.
Moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was one of Trump’s campaign promises, but his administration recently laid a condition upon that promise being kept – that a peace deal is signed with the Palestinians.
“That could be one of his biggest mistakes if he pursues that,” Richardson said.
“Caroline Glick’s one-state solution is the only reasonable solution, as articulated in her book,” he said, referring to the Jerusalem Post editor and dual U.S.-Israeli citizen. “That’s the only reasonable option I’ve seen set forth. It’s just simply a sham to pursue a two-state solution because you’re dealing with leadership that are fundamental liars and don’t care about their own people, their hatred of the Israelis is far greater than their concern for their own people.
“The simple fact of the matter is the very concept of the Palestinian peace process is a complete scam,” he added. “The only right approach to take is to make sure the Israeli people have the ability to protect themselves and to do our best to make life good for the Palestinian people [without supporting their Islamist leaders].”
Richardson said moving the embassy to Jerusalem would be “a tremendous blessing.”
The Islamic world is threatening they would blow up if that were done but you don’t give in to the temper tantrum, the bully, you do what’s right,” he said. “We should be supporting Israel, Jordan and the Kurds.”
And, at least for the time being, it appears that strategy comes with the risky trade-off of providing huge amounts of sophisticated weaponry to Saudi Arabia — the very heart of radical Sunni Islam.