President Donald Trump threw down the gauntlet to leaders of 55 Islamic countries in a speech in Saudi Arabia in which he not only urged them to unite in a war against Islamist terrorism but called for a new birth of tolerance in the Middle East between Muslims, Christians, and Jews. The tone of the speech was as much religious as it was political.

Urges Arab leaders to stamp out terrorism

Trump exhorted his audience to stamp out terrorism, to drive them from Islamic places of worship, and hence from the face of the Earth.

He stated that the fight against terrorism was a struggle between good and evil, not between different religions or different civilizations. In effect, the president aligned the entire world, including the West as well as Middle Eastern countries, against the terrorists and any country like Iran that supported them.

Brings religious tone to the struggle

President Trump invoked God and religion numerous times during his speech. He started that the terrorists do not worship God, but rather death. He stated that if the world does not unite against terrorism, it would be judged by God.

Trump also attempted to separate the terrorists from Islam, saying that the religious faith was a “religion of peace” that abhorred the taking of human life.

Calls for tolerance in the Middle East

Trump also called for a new birth of tolerance in the Middle East, in which he urged the Islamic countries to oppose “the murder of innocent Muslims, the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews, and the slaughter of Christians.” The statement was an extraordinary thing to say in a country that does oppress women and does persecute people of different faiths than Islam.

Nevertheless, the president claimed that any acceptance of western values was not a prerequisite for American support in the war on terror.

States that the United States cannot solve terrorism for the Middle East

Trump’s overall message was that the countries in the Middle East have to address the problem of terrorism and that the United States cannot do it for them. The measures the president urged include cutting off funding for terrorist groups from Islamic banking systems as well as driving pro-jihadi preachers from mosques.

Providing support for the war in terror

Besides lavishly providing arms, training, and other support for Arab countries, Trump has entered into an agreement with a group of Gulf States to coordinate the blocking of funding from terrorist groups. There will also be a cyber war element to the fight against terror. Groups like ISIS use social media networks to recruit fresh jihadis to fill their ranks. In short, Trump proposes not just to “degrade” and “diminish” terrorist groups such as ISIS but to annihilate them.

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