Trump’s ban targets seven predominantly Muslim countries – Syria, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen – whose citizens have so far not been involved in mass killings in the US. On the contrary, all major terrorist groups that have attacked the United States and other Western countries over the past couple of decades – from al Qaeda to the Taliban to the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) – can trace their roots back to Sunni-led countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Pakistan and Qatar. But conspicuously these countries didn’t make the list.
Not only that, in a telephone call on Sunday with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, Trump reiterated his administration’s support to Riyadh. A White House statement said the two leaders discussed Trump’s role “to lead a Middle East effort to defeat terrorism and to help build a new future, economically and socially,” for Saudi Arabia and the region.
While Saudi nationals were involved in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the recent killings on US soil – the Orlando and San Bernardino shootings – were perpetrated by people of Afghan and Pakistani origin. Why did President Trump exempt these countries from the executive order?
It is too early and very difficult to evaluate President Trump’s strategy. Although the US media is claiming that Trump spared these countries because he has business ties with them, this may only be true for Saudi Arabia. He has no investments in Pakistan and Afghanistan.