Yesterday I posted the weird photo of Donald Trump, the Saudi King, and Egyptian dictator al Sisi placing their hands on a glowing orb, something that has sparked plenty of mockery and internet memes. Some have said that touching the orb was what caused a sinkhole to suddenly open up in front of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida at roughly the same time.
But the real (not funny) joke is that they were opening something called the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology. This is rich considering that Saudi Arabia is the home of the most extreme and intolerant ideological formulation of Islam known as Wahhabism that spawned Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, and ISIS, and that most of the 9/11 attackers were Saudis. Add to that the fact that al Sisi is a brutal dictator and that the other attendees at this soiree included the monarchs of the Gulf states, as extreme a bunch of anti-democratic despots as one can imagine, and you can see why their statements calling to fight against violence and extremist ideology rings so hollow.
Trump even went so far to single out Iran as an example of extremism and source of violence, ignoring the election held at the same time. It is true that Iran is by no means a shining example of liberal democratic values. Ultimate power in that theocratic country is held by a cleric Ali Khamanei as Supreme Leader and his fellow unelected clerics. But it is still more democratic than the countries ruled by the gang of religious tyrants that Trump hobnobbed with. Add to that, Iran had just completed a presidential election in which a high percentage of nearly 75% of the public voted and gave a landslide re-election victory to the more reformist current president Rouhani and soundly defeated a more reactionary opponent. Even though the ruling clerics have final say on who can run for this office, it is still more than what Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, and Egypt allow.
The Iranian foreign minister has mocked Trump’s criticism of his country saying that the US is only interested in taking Saudi money in return for its weapons and other systems and there can be no doubt that he is right, though he could have added that the US likely views that country as also useful for waging proxy wars on its behalf, like it is doing in Yemen.