US President Donald Trump’s landmark speech in Saudi Arabia May 21 signals a reversal of policy from the Barack Obama administration and will ratchet up tensions with Iran. A day after a record-breaking 42 million Iranians signaled their desire to engage the world by re-electing President Hassan Rouhani, Trump appeared in an autocratic monarchy to call on “nations of conscience” to “isolate” Iran.
The Trump administration’s main accusation is that Tehran is destabilizing the region. However, this simply does not square with the reality on the ground. Iran is backing the same governments in Iraq and Afghanistan that the United States supports. Meanwhile, Kabul and Baghdad blame Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, respectively, for supporting terrorism in their countries. Former US Vice President Joe Biden acknowledged the role of American allies in fomenting instability, stating in 2014, “They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad, except that the people who were being supplied were [Jabhat] al-Nusra, and al-Qaeda, and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.”