President Donald Trump is a disruptor, a president who has changed the traditional way presidents communicate to achieve stated goals – one being to cut through all the noise and to shock the mainstream media and by using the fifth estate and many times twitter, to get his message delivered to a wider audience. This is a high risk method of communication as it can, and sometimes has, failed. But when it works, it is highly effective.
When we look at the past four newly elected presidents of the United States, two Republicans and two Democrats, all made their first trips to close allies with compatible democracies that share over one trillion dollars of trade with the US each year – Canada and Mexico for example, both of which are close allies so a visit is extremely low risk for any President, much like visiting your cousin`s home for tea).
But Donald Trump did not make his first trip as President on a visit Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom nor France, all strong US allies. In a break with tradition, he visited Saudi Arabia, a country that fears some forms of Islamist extremism, but supports others. A country that sponsors extremist Wahabi mosques and imams all over the world. So this begs the question, why did President Trump visit the Saudis?
On his first trip overseas, President Trump attended the 2017 Riyadh summit from the 20th to the 21st of May, to conduct bilateral meetings with Saudi Arabia and more importantly, to attend meetings with members of the Gulf Cooperation Council and 55 Arab and Muslim countries to congratulate and give support to’
1. inaugurate the new Global Center for Combating Extremism in Riyadh (and the US is to cooperate to fight extremist Islam),
and to 2. discuss ways of arresting and containing the expansionist power in the Middle East – the Islamic Republic of Iran.
When we study modern day Iran, we notice that its leaders carry out statecraft and negotiations with neighboring powers much the same that the Persian Empire did 2,000 years ago when the it was founded and expanded first into Babylon, then the region. The Iran sphere of influence is growing in the region and its goals are obvious. The fall of Iraq left a power vacuum that Iran was happy to fill, exploiting both the Shia and the Sunni in its drive to balance power in the region. Iran`s ultimate goal is to use Iraq as a launching pad, to expand into Syria, Saudi Arabia and then south to fully control the Gulf. Just like in ancient times, and it is Iraq that is the key to Iran`s pivot into regional domination.
When we reference a map, it is easy to see that Syria has become a geopolitical proxy battleground for Shia Iran and Sunni Turkey. Russia is happy to support Iran and Syria`s Assad to ensure that the US is fully occupied, while Mr Putin focuses on Europe. And note that with the support to the rebels in Yemen, Iran is threatening Saudi Arabia in its backyard. So when President Donald Trump flies to Saudi Arabia and the Saudis sign a deal to buy over 200 billion dollars of US military hardware, the message is clear – it is that they are set to stop Iran`s expansion in the region. As one headline pointed out, Trump has Unleashed the Saudi Arabia We Always Wanted – and Feared.
Vulnerability – Iran Lives in Fear, It`s Weakness Always Exposed.
There is a very simple solution to curtailing Iranian expansionism and that is to shut off its oil supplies to the world, thus inflicting severe damage to its economy. There is an island at the north end of the Persian Gulf called Kharg. Over 80 percent of Iran`s oil is exported through Kharg Island while millions of tons of products are shipped both ways through it. In a four month period, 35.8 million tons of goods passed through this very small and very important geostrategic import and export hub (it is the heart of Iranian trade). According to geopolitical analyst, Peter Zeihan, “it takes an aircraft carrier battle group to keep the Gulf open, but it only takes a destroyer to close it…..with one sortie, we -meaning the US, can take Iran out of the international economy for years.”
Iran is a growing regional power but with obvious weaknesses that can and will be exploited.
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