The test of whether or not this vaunted Saudi reform is real will be if they really cut off funding not only for terror groups, but for Muslim Brotherhood mosques and organizations in the United States.
“Trump tells Saudi crown prince US has ‘zero tolerance’ for terrorist funding,” by Steven Nelson, Washington Examiner, March 20, 2018 02:22 PM
President Trump told Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, on Tuesday that the U.S. has “zero tolerance” for terrorism funding, and that he was pleased to see Saudi efforts to stop donations to extremist groups.
“One thing you really have to really focus on is the terrorism threat and the funding of terrorism, whether it’s Saudi Arabia or other countries, as we know there will be no funding, we have zero tolerance for the funding of terrorists,” Trump said at the White House. “I will say Saudi Arabia has been working very hard on that.”
Trump also recalled his visit to Saudi Arabia last year for an anti-terrorism conference.
“We talked about terrorism and the funding of terrorism, and it will not be allowed. It will not be allowed. That would be the one thing that would end the relationship with any country. I think there’s a very big focus on that, the funding of terrorism, meaning it’s over,” Trump said.
Although the two countries are public allies in the fight against the Islamic State, a 2014 memo from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Saudi Arabia and neighboring Qatar “are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region,” using another acronym for the terror group.
Prince Salman, 32, consolidated power as the authoritarian U.S. ally’s de facto leader last year with leadership purge premised on allegations of corruption against royal rivals. The prince has pushed an agenda of economic and social reforms, including moving the kingdom to diversify its oil-based economy and allowing women to drive cars.
But Prince Salman also seen as a driving force behind an aggressive Saudi foreign policy, including the nearly three-year intervention in Yemen, where thousands of civilians died in aerial bombings or face starvation. He’s led a coalition of Arab nations to break diplomatic relations with Qatar, accusing the small gas-rich nation of funding extremist groups, with demands including the closure of the news network Al Jazeera.
During a Monday background call with reporters, senior administration officials said there would be a wide range of topics discussed between Trump and Prince Salman, whose aging father, King Salman, technically still leads the country.
Topics that Trump intended to discuss, according to officials, included the Yemeni Civil War, the Syrian Civil War, regional adversary Iran, and an ongoing diplomatic feud between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The official also suggested there would be significant discussion about Russia’s role in the region.
“The president and the crown prince will discuss countering Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region, but also will include Russia’s role in supporting the Assad regime’s atrocities in Syria, Russia’s efforts to protect Iran from us sanctions to hold the [Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps] accountable for facilitating reckless missile attacks against Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, and also facilitating attacks on shipping in the Red Sea,” one senior official said on the Monday call previewing the visit….