Is Trump's Middle East policy based on two fragile regional allies?
ABDULAZIZ AHMET YASAR
23 NOV 2018
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US President Donald Trump has gone out of his way to support Saudi crown prince MBS and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while the former is accused of murder and the latter faces corruption allegations.
US President Donald Trump told journalists on Thanksgiving Day that "Israel would be in big trouble without Saudi Arabia."
Saudi Arabia's alliance with the US is not only significant for Washington but also for Israel.
Trump was asked about the link between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, aka MBS, and the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Trump neither denied nor confirmed the connection, but simply seemed as if he was indifferent about the whole incident.
Trump instead chose to focus on the Saudi-Israeli relations - and how Israel is dependent on the Saudi Prince.
Trump also mentioned how grateful he is to the crown prince for pushing the oil prices down, in addition to pointing out how many jobs will return to the US with Saudi arms purchases from the country.
As Trump received heavy criticism for choosing to ignore MBS's role in Kashoggi's killing, the US president tried to legitimise his unpopular stance. "It is a very important ally, and if we go by a certain standard, we won’t be able to be allies with almost any country," Trump said, justifying his position on the crown prince. 
Trump argued that he needs to maintain friendly ties with Saudi kingdom in order to address Israel's security concerns. 

Israel and Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia and Israel have been discreet about their diplomatic relations. The countries never publicised their growing ties. 
Since MBS became the Crown Prince in June 2017, a rapprochement never so close in the history of two states has taken place.
For instance, though Saudi Arabia's policy does not recognise Israel as a state, MBS made a bold assertion that "Israelis have the right for a homeland".
MBS opened up the Saudi airspace for all commercial flights to and from Israel, globally.
And they both see Iran, another Middle East power, as a security threat.
“We have a common enemy, and it seems that we have a lot of potential areas to have economic cooperation,” the Crown Prince said.
Trump administration's support to the MBS is driven by this cooperation -  but many wonder how stable it is.

Is Trump's Middle East policy under threat?
The strongest political allies of Trump in the Middle East are the Saudi Crown Prince and the Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. 
It is possible to say that the whole Middle East policy of the Trump administration relies on these two strong allies.
But both the leaders have come under public scrutiny.
The killing of Jamal Khashoggi which is reportedly linked to MBS has weakened the  legitimacy of MBS not only in Saudi but also internationally, including several Muslim majority countries.
His image has taken further battering as the Saudi-led coalition continues to bombard Yemen, causing thousands of civilian deaths.
Again, MBS is being criticised for leading the armed campaign in Yemen and for not pulling back. 

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has come under fire after the ceasefire deal with Palestinians in Gaza.
As a reaction to the ceasefire agreement the Minister for Defence, Avigdor Lieberman resigned from his office and also from the coalition government.
Without Lieberman's faction, Netanyahu's right-wing government still has a narrow majority of 61 of the 120 Knesset seats. 
However, it is getting tight for the far-right PM.
He is holding office of Foreign Minister since 2015, this new ministry will make it two in total with the Prime Ministry.
According to the Haaretz is Netanyahu trying to stabilize his coalition to avoid early elections.
Netanyahu is holding the office of Foreign Minister since 2015.
Other coalition partners have already demanded that Netanyahu hold new elections in spring. Regular elections would be held in November 2019.
Trump's Middle East policy is an alliance between two fragile governments involved in wars in their own neighbourhood - and in 'administrative crisis'.
It remains to  be seen whether the US will continue to rely on the two highly controversial leaders or recognise the growing need for course correction. 
Source: TRT World
AUTHOR
Abdulaziz Ahmet YASAR
@AbdulazizYasar

Abdulaziz Ahmet Yasar is a producer at TRT World.
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