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Is Trump holding a Russian card in the Middle East?

Trump visit launches new US-Saudi partnership, but the endgame in the Middle East still depends on Moscow and Tehran.
Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (2-L) welcomes U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and first lady Melania Trump as they arrive aboard Air Force One at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTX36OP5

The choreography of the first day of US President Donald Trump’s visit probably exceeded even Saudi Arabia's expectations. The United States and the kingdom on May 20 concluded a $110 billion arms deal ($350 billion over the coming decade), the announcement of $40 billion of Saudi investments in US infrastructure projects and pronouncements of a new US-Saudi partnership in the region. Trump will give a speech May 21 that he said will address the “growing concern about terrorism, the spread of radicalization and Iran's role in funding both.” In addition, Trump is calling for US regional partners “to take more responsibility and a much bigger role in fighting terrorism in their region.” 

In a news conference, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir seemed in lockstep in their approach to Iran. Tillerson described the arms package as a means to deal with “malign Iranian influence.” Although the US secretary of state gave priority to a political solution in Yemen, he supported additional Saudi military pressure on Houthi armed groups, which are backed by Iran. According to the World Health Organization, Yemen is suffering from an unprecedentedly rapid spread of cholera and “massive damage to the country’s sewage and electricity infrastructure, which have left the water supply contaminated.”

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