The Arab Islamic American Summit: a New Partnership to Confront the Terrorists and Iranian Threats


The Middle East region is flooded with wars and conflicts. Millions of people across countries like Syria, Iraq, and Yemen are gripped by wars, hunger, and poverty due to the current events in this ill-fated region. The Iranian chaotic and destructive practices to expand and extend its sectarian project has torn out, brain drained and scattered the wealth of the region. Indeed, the Iranian terrorism through supporting its proxies with weapons and funds in Iraq, Syria Yemen, and Lebanon has destabilized the Middle East and threatened the regional and international peace and security. As a result, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia hosted three summits for two days in Riyadh on May 21, 2017, with the presence of the US President Donald Trump. The first is Saudi American, the second is Gulf American, and the third is Arab Islamic American summit. The three summits, especially the Arab Islamic American one reached a very fruitful conclusion to confront the terrorists and Iranian threats in the Middle East and reflected on the international peace and security.
» The Summit Timing
The importance of this historical summit lies in its timing due to the current events in the Middle East region in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon where the sectarian conflicts, political fragmentation, and the fourth-generation warfare (ad hoc warriors and moral conflict) on the terrorist groups and militias are at their peak. The importance of this summit also lies in tackling the role of regional and international players like Iran and Russia in the Middle East that led to more complexities and escalation of tension. These two countries have strategic ambitions to expand their spheres of influence, achieve their interests, and prove they are very difficult numbers to deal with even at the expense of the rights and lives of people and regional stability. This motivated the new US administration to change its policies toward those players through striking Shayrat Airbase in response to the Syrian Iran-supported chemical attack, on civilians in Syria. The US also launched an attack on the Iranian militias in Tanaf in Syria and has increased its presence in Iraq and Yemen to convey a message about the resumption of the US leading role in the world. In fact, the United States delivered a message that it would never remain silent toward Iran and its proxies’ practices in the region, which forced the regional and international players (Iran and Russia) to recalculate their policies on one hand and pose a new chaotic situation on the other.
» Prominence of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
The Saudi Soft Power has proved its effectiveness and good standing of the Kingdom to the Arab and Muslim countries and to the United States as well as a leader of the Muslim world, strategic partner, difficult number in both the regional and international formulas, and a strong regional player that has all capabilities to play a major role in the regional conflicts, which can be proved through the following:
1. International Mobilization: Leaders and representatives from fifty-five countries that inhabit about 1.5billion people attended the summit; 366 presidents and leaders: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, the Maldives, the Sultanate of Brunei, Azerbaijan, Togo, Niger, Indonesia, Mauritania, Palestine, Tunisia, Iraq, Comoros, Gabon, Mali, Benin, Senegal, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Chad, Guyana, Ivory Coast, Tajikistan, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Djibouti, Somalia, and Libya; five crown princes and prime ministers also attended the summit: The UAE, Lebanon, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Bangladesh; eleven ministers and officials that represent their countries attended: Algeria, Nigeria, Suriname, the Sultanate of Oman, Sudan, Kirgizstan, Cameron, Turkmenistan, Morocco, and Turkey; and unknown level of representation of three countries, which are Albania, Guinea-Bissau, and Uganda.
2. Being the first destination for the president of the first super power and most influential nation in the world, Donald Trump, which is a clear message on the strong position of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Given the fact that the usual first destination for the US presidents after inauguration is a Western, European, or South American country, which confirms the status and strong position of the Kingdom and its major role in the regional and international issues, countering terrorism, and restoration of peace and security to the region and the world. This summit also reflects the Saudi major role in supporting the humanitarian, developmental, and services projects in the neighboring and Arab and Muslim countries, and standing against any destabilizing activities, especially the Iranian practices that threaten the regional peace and security.
Based on that assumption, a critical question arises here; can the regional expansionist countries mobilize the Arab and Muslim world to confront what they call the rival countries against their expansionist project, especially those infected by the Iranian plague such as Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon?
In fact, these countries have never been models for democracy, development, security, and stability. On the contrary, they have been torn out, flooded with sectarian conflicts and political fragmentation, and safe heaven for terrorist groups in all forms and colors such as Al-Qaeda, the ISIS, and the phenomenon of the lone wolves that have become a new type of terrorism due to the Iranian practices.
» The Summit Significance and Trump’s Messages
The significance of the summit goes back to the equalization between international terrorism and the Iranian militias. This is reflected in the participants’ speeches, especially the speeches of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman Ibn Abdulaziz and the US President Donald Trump. The two leaders linked between terrorism and the Iranian regime as two faces for the same coin. King Salman asserted that killing an innocent is the same as killing all people in Islam that rejects violence, terrorism, or killing any innocent regardless of his religion, race, language, or belonging. At the same time, King Salman rejected linking Islam and Muslims with terrorism because of a group cloaked in religion and have control of the Iranian regime. King Salman asserted that these people are distorting this great religion through their support to terrorism when he said, “Some of those belong to Islam are distorting our religion such as the practices of the Iranian regime and its proxy groups; Hezbollah, Houthis, the ISIS, Al-Qaida, and others.” King Salman added, “These are awful practices to use Islam as a cover for political purposes that escalate hatred, terrorism, and sectarian conflicts. The Iranian regime is the spearhead of international terrorism since the Khomeini revolution until today. We had never seen any type of terrorism or extremism in Iran for 300 years until the Khomeini revolution broke out in 1979.”
On the Iranian expansionist strategy at the expense of the regional security and stability, and its ignorance of good neighborhood and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries King Salman said, “Iran rejected the good neighborly initiatives introduced by the GCC countries and broke all international laws and principals of good neighborhood, coexistence, and mutual respect. The Iranian regime is almost like it has a personality and thought our patience as weakness and our wisdom as downturn until we are fed up of its hostile practices and sectarian intervention in the regional countries. We say this and at the same time have respect for the Iranian people because we cannot blame them for the guilt of their regime.”
The US president’s speech lasted for 20 minutes at the opening of the summit. It coincided with the speech of the Saudi King when he linked between the international terrorism and the Iranian practices that promote violence, extremism, and sectarian conflicts, leading to criminal terrorist activities. The US president sent two strong messages on the regional crises, especially theIranian terrorist activities and its proxies such as Hezbollah, the militias, Al-Qaida, the ISIS, and others:
1. The new war on terrorism. Trump sent this message to the Muslim leaders in the summit. He considered this moment when Washington works side by side with the Muslim countries as the end of terrorists. He also tried to reform the incorrect link between Islam and terrorism due to the terrorist groups’ use of religion to cover their crimes. He added that 90% of the terrorist victims are Muslims, asserting that this battle is not between religions and the different sects, but on terrorists that spread death and destruction when he said, “We have to stand together to confront Killers of Muslims, Oppressors of Jews, and Killers of Christians.”
2. The second message was directed to Iran: the present absentee:
Iran was not invited to the summit; however, it was the second main focus of the US president’s speech after countering terrorism when he said, “The Iranian regime is the main financier of international terrorism”. Trump asserted that this regime incites hatred in the Middle East region, especially in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen where it fuels the fires of sectarian conflicts, sponsors terrorism, and kills innocent people. Indeed, the US president made Iran accountable for the crises and instability in the Middle East region when he said, “Iran trains and arms the militias in the region. For decades, it raised the slogans of “death to America and Israel” and intervened in Syria. With the Iranian support, Assad is staying in office and continuing his crimes.”
» Trump’s Strategy for Eliminating Terrorism
1. Labeling the organizations that carry out terrorist activities as Terrorist Organizations such the Lebanese Hezbollah
2. Support sovereignty and protection of all countries to prevent terrorists from finding any safe heaven in these countries.
3. Cut off the finance channels of the ISIS and it’s oil sales routes it uses to enlist new individuals. On this issue, he praised the GCC countries’ freezing of terrorist groups and put Hezbollah on the list of terrorist organizations, calling for unification for defeating terrorism and extremism.
4. The Arab Islamic American joint action to corner and isolate the Iranian regime and prevent it from supporting terrorism and providing the necessary social status for enlistment; from Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, to Yemen Iran finances, arms, and trains terrorists, militias, and the extremist groups that spread chaos and destruction in the four countries. In Syria, the regime, supported by Iran, carries out genocide crimes against humanity using chemical weapons against innocent people. These practices provoked the US to take decisive actions and launch 59 Tomahawk missiles on Shayrat Airbase in response to the Syrian regime’s crimes.
The US president tried to separate between the Iranian regime and its people that do not have any decisions to make when he said, “The Iranian people suffered the most from this regime. Iran has to choose between isolation and getting into the world system.” On the same issue, the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in the press conference with his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir on May 22, 2017, “We have to coordinate efforts to stop the Iranian support to terrorists and militias in Yemen, Iraq, and Syria.” He added, “I hope that Rouhani uses his second term of presidency to stop the Iranian support to terrorists and the other destabilizing forces. We also hope he stops the Ballistic missiles tests and preserves the Iranian people’s human rights.” Tillerson asserted that if Rouhani wants to change Iran’s relations with the world, he has to stop the Iranian campaign to destabilize the Middle East region.
» New Partnership against the Iranian Project
The final statement of the summit was a setback for the Iranian project and its sectarian proxies in the region. All participants agreed on a new partnership between leaders of the Arab and Muslim countries and the United States of America to counter terrorism in all its colors and types including what they called the Iranian terrorism. They also highlighted the strategy in facing this threat through the Arab Islamic American unification and the practical procedures to hinder the Iranian plans. The participants’ commitment was reflected in the following:
1. Countering terrorism in all its colors and types, drying up its sources, and taking all necessary procedures to stop the terrorist crimes through cooperation between all concerned
2. The announcement to establish “The Strategic Middle Eastern Coalition in Riyadh” at which many countries will be participating to achieve peace and security in the region and the world. Noting that the coalition will be completed in 2018 through announcing the participating countries in this alliance.
3. Exchange of critical information about foreign fighters and their movements within the terrorist organizations and cooperation in countering terrorism. Participants also insisted on the importance of the procedures to be taken in this concern side by side with the progress in reaching a political settlement for conflicts. At the same time, they expressed their satisfaction to work with the Arab coalition to counter the terrorist groups in Yemen.
4. Establish an Islamic military coalition for countering terrorism consists of 34 thousand soldiers to support operations against the terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria when necessary
5. Reject the sectarian agendas because of their serious consequences on the regional and international security, the rejection of the Iranian regime’s practices that destabilize security and stability in the region and the world and its continuous support to terrorism and extremism.
6. Preserve the regional and international security by all means and face the Iranian destructive practices inside their countries through mutual cooperation. Participants also highlighted the dangers of the Iranian ballistic missile systems and the Iranian regime’s breaking of Vienna declaration on diplomatic relations
» The Messages of the Arab Islamic American Summit
The summit delivered important messages to Iran; its government, people, allies such as Russia and others, and its militias in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon about the change in the Arab Islamic American countries’ (that represent one-third of the world’s population) positions:
a. To Iran: The regime has to stop its expansionist projects, plans, and support to the Shiite sectarian militias to bring back peace and stability to the Middle East region. This appears on the ground through the airstrikes on the Syrian regime’s forces and the Iranian proxy militias in Syria and Yemen. In fact, the new US president followed a new strategy toward Tehran and its proxy the Lebanese Hezbollah that differs from his precedent’s Barak Obama when he attacked the nuclear deal and threatened to repeal it. He was also clear about Hezbollah through the congressional draft law that enhances sanctions on this organization to dry up its sources, which is, in reality, a strike on Tehran. The US president also launched 59 missiles on Shayrat Airbase in response to the Syrian regime’s, supported by Iran, use of chemical weapons in Khan Shaykhun last March. Furthermore, the US air force targeted the Iranian Shiite militias near al-Tanaf military base before the Arab-Islamic American summit. These strikes confused the Iranian regime and made it change its calculations and reconsider its plans and strategies in Syria toward stalemate or withdrawal rather than expansion.
b. The Iranian Shiite militias: Although these militias move on the Iranian Supreme Leader’s orders, they will change their calculations thousands of times before moving and implementing their plans due to the US air strikes. In case the US intensifies its strikes in the months to come, they will delay their activities to study the new international and the Iranian positions in light of the regional and international pressures on this regime.
c. To Russia: This is a strong political message to Russia that partnership with Iran and support for its regime would harm the Russian relations with the majority of the Arab and Muslim countries, in addition to disagreement with the United States that is of great importance to Russia on all levels. The Russian response to the US strikes on the Iranian militias in Syria was confined to condemnation and criticism in order to avoid disagreement with the United States given the fact that the Russian project in Syria differs from that of Iran because of the lack of trust between both countries, which confirms that the relation between them is not strategic partnership but an alliance of interests.
» The Arab Islamic American Summit Resolutions
1. International consensus on the Iranian Terrorism concept and rejection of all kinds of support to terrorist groups including the armed militias in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon, which is considered an international terrorism that must be confronted and stopped by all means
2. Taking practical steps to counter terrorism in all its forms and drying up its sources including the Iranian terrorism through the following procedures:
a. Establish an international center for countering extremism called “Etidal” to confront the extremist beliefs that lead to terrorism, the first common enemy for the world. This center was established by many countries and chose Riyadh its home to be a reference for fighting the extremist beliefs through depicting, analyzing, and confronting them in addition to cooperation between governments and organizations to spread and enhance the culture of moderation.
b. The announcement to establish “The Strategic Middle Eastern Coalition in Riyadh” at which many countries will be participating to achieve peace and security in the region and the world. Noting that the coalition will be completed in 2018 through announcing the participating countries in this alliance.
c. The participants’ commitment to establish a reserve force of 34 thousand soldiers to support the operations against the terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria when necessary.
The consequences of this summit such as the strikes on the Shiite terrorist militias shall stop the Iranian plans and bring back stability and security to the Arab countries that are being manipulated by Iran.
Today, the Iranian regime is standing between a rock and a hard stone; handing over the presidency to the reform current and the other is the Arab Islamic American summit that excluded Iran because it is, according to the US Secretary of State, part of the problem. Indeed, the future will witness more international, especially American pressure on Iran in Yemen and Syria to stop its practices and escalation of tension and conflicts in the Middle East through supporting its Shiite proxies in the region.

Editorial Team