Kicking off his first international trip as U.S. president, Donald Trump visited Saudi Arabia on 5/20–22. He met with King Salman and the leaders of various other Arab states, called on “Muslim nations” to “take on the burden” of defeating terrorism, and signed an agreement to sell $110 b. in U.S. arms to Saudi Arabia over the next 10 years. According to a U.S. statement, “this package demonstrates, in the clearest terms possible, the U.S.’s commitment to our partnership with Saudi Arabia and our Gulf partners, while also expanding opportunities for American companies in the region, and supporting tens of thousands of new jobs in the U.S. defense industrial base.” The arms deal, along with Trump’s embrace of Salman, had immediate repercussions across the Middle East (see “Regional Affairs” above), including in Israel, where it stoked renewed fears about the regional balance of power. Despite a 5/23 White House statement pledging to preserve Israel’s qualitative military edge in the Middle East, DM Lieberman noted (5/24) that he was “not at peace with” the Saudi arms deal as it accelerated the weapons race across the region. Netanyahu, for his part, touted Trump’s commitment to Israel’s security and announced (5/24) that the U.S. had allocated an additional $75 m. to support joint U.S.-Israeli missile defense activities.
Quarterly Updates for (16 May 2017 — 15 Aug 2017)