• Could the Riyadh summit be a turning point?, On: Sun, 21 May 2017

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  • Arab youth surveys are useful, On: Sun, 07 May 2017

  • European vote matters to the Arab world, On: Sun, 30 Apr 2017

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  • Dealing with Arab diaspora communities , On: Sun, 16 Apr 2017

  • Endless civilian tragedies in Syria and Iraq , On: Sun, 09 Apr 2017

  • The results of the Amman summit , On: Sun, 02 Apr 2017

  • Tackling the roots of radicalisation , On: Sun, 26 Mar 2017

  • Lessons of the Dutch vote , On: Sun, 19 Mar 2017

  • Tough days for Arab women facing war and displacement , On: Sun, 12 Mar 2017

  • ISIS a failed idea and a failing project , On: Sun, 05 Mar 2017

  • Civilians continue to suffer in Iraq , On: Sun, 26 Feb 2017

  • Killing the Palestinians’ hopes for statehood , On: Sun, 19 Feb 2017

  • The migration issue after Malta , On: Sun, 12 Feb 2017

  • The Trump administration’s early record , On: Sun, 05 Feb 2017

  • Israeli settlement policies could endanger regional and global peace , On: Sun, 29 Jan 2017

  • The messages of Davos , On: Sun, 22 Jan 2017

  • Predicting MENA’s future, On: Sun, 15 Jan 2017

  • Welcoming 2017 , On: Sun, 08 Jan 2017

  • The Cairo bombing , On: Sun, 18 Dec 2016

  • The wages of war , On: Sun, 11 Dec 2016

  • The continuing flow of migrants across the Mediterranean, On: Sun, 04 Dec 2016

  • Risks of social media abuse in MENA region , On: Sun, 27 Nov 2016

  • Arab youth should be a source of hope, not concern, On: Sun, 20 Nov 2016

  • After the election of Donald Trump , On: Sun, 13 Nov 2016

  • Many hopes are pinned on Marrakech climate conference , On: Sun, 06 Nov 2016

  • Stability in the Maghreb, On: Sun, 30 Oct 2016

  • Syria’s bloody story , On: Sun, 23 Oct 2016

  • Stopping the tragedy of child brides, On: Sun, 16 Oct 2016

  • Welcoming the new UN chief , On: Sun, 09 Oct 2016

  • The refugee crisis is not going away , On: Sun, 02 Oct 2016

  • The UN still serves a purpose , On: Sun, 25 Sep 2016

  • The Arab world’s water crisis is not going away , On: Sun, 18 Sep 2016

  • New reports underline the cost of Israeli occupation , On: Sun, 11 Sep 2016

  • Saving children from war and terror, On: Sun, 04 Sep 2016

  • The humanitarian tragedy in Libya , On: Sun, 28 Aug 2016

  • Worrisome trends but also welcome moves regarding smoking in MENA, On: Sun, 21 Aug 2016

  • The Arab world at the Rio Olympics, On: Sun, 14 Aug 2016

  • Could the Riyadh summit be a turning point?

    2017/05/21 Issue: 107 Page: 6

    There are many reasons to welcome the prospect of the summit meetings scheduled in Riyadh between US President Donald Trump and the Saudi and Gulf Cooperation Council leaderships as well as the heads of other Arab and Muslim countries. It is significant that the Saudi capital was chosen to be the first overseas stop of the new US president. It is reason­able to see it as an indicator of the importance America’s 45th president gives to relations with the Arab and Muslim world.

    The fight against terrorism and the Islamic State (ISIS) is expected to loom large at the summit. Discussions could help to refocus attention on the problem of radicalisation and on the way to fight perverted interpretations of religion. It is time to reverse the trend towards extremism by agreeing to an adequate anti-radicalisation strategy. There is also a need for consensus on the shaping of a credible counter-narrative that challenges the dangerous distortion of Islam. Any progress, at least now, will bear the seal of legitimacy conferred by the collective will of more than 50 Arab and Muslim leaders.

    Through the large Riyadh gathering, Trump should gain a fuller picture of the hopes and frustrations of Arabs and Muslims. The summit will present him with a precious opportunity to deflect the accusations of Islamophobia that have swirled around him, both as candidate and as president. He provoked intense criti­cism for calling for a ban on Muslim entry into the United States. When in office, he tried to restrict travel from Muslim majority countries. From his discussions in Riyadh, Trump can hopefully see that Arabs and Muslims are as much victims of extremism and terror as any other people.

    The sense of America working closely with Arab countries is especially important in the context of Iran’s aggressive policies in the region. Arab leaders, especially those of the Gulf Cooperation Council, expect the United States to push back harder against Tehran’s destabilising agenda, not least its sectarian proxy wars.

    They will also hope that Trump would factor the Arab perspec­tive into his view of the Palestinian-Israeli issue. After the Riyadh meetings, the US president visits Tel Aviv and then meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem.

    It is to be hoped that Trump will realise the need for a fair and lasting solution to a long and anguished conflict. In this respect, his administration has shown encouraging restraint in refusing to heed the Israeli prime minister’s call for the United States to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

    The two main parties at the summit — the Saudi leadership and the Trump administration — are striving to build a whole new partnership. Most Arab and Muslim leaders want the same thing. Let the new partnerships go beyond military and security coop­eration, crucial though it may be. Let it embrace Arab and US cooperation in technology transfer and the promotion of science and innovation. Let the partnership be geared towards long-term socio-economic progress and sustainable development.

    Let it go beyond mutual stereotypes that have lasted all too long.

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