The Rendon Group Snapshot Report: 30 May 2017

by TRG Alerts Admin on June 5, 2017

The Rendon Group

(30MAY17)

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Trump takes first foreign trip as US president to Middle East, Europe

pope-francis-donald-trump-vatican-veils

Ivanka Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, and President Donald Trump stand with Pope Francis during a meeting at the Vatican, 24MAY. (AP)

US President Donald Trump embarked on a nine day overseas trip, his first since taking office, on 19MAY. The first stop on his tour was Saudi Arabia, where he met with King Salman, as well as the leaders and dignitaries of other Arab and Muslim-majority nations, including Jordan, Pakistan, Egypt, and Turkey.  President Trump delivered a speech calling on the leaders of the Muslim world to unite in confronting and isolating Iran for funding terrorism.  The second leg of the trip took President Trump to Israel on 22MAY.  There he met with Prime Minister Netanyahu, but plans for the president to address the Knesset were scrapped, amid fears that some Israeli lawmakers might heckle him.  On 24MAY, President Trump departed the Middle East region, and continued his trip in Europe.  His first stop on the continent was in Rome, where he met with both Prime Minister Gentiloni and Pope Francis.  President Trump then went on to attend the inauguration of a new NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, and met individually with several more European leaders, including the new French president, Emmanuel Macron. In an address to NATO, Trump called on the allies to increase spending on the collective defense, complaining that many NATO countries “owe” money from years past.  President Trump also pointedly avoided endorsing Article 5 of the alliance’s founding treaty, which states that an attack on any member is an attack on all.  The president’s trip ended in Italy, where he attended the G7 Summit.  At the summit, President Trump faced pressure to back a pledge to fight trade protectionism, which he acceded to. However, while all six of the other world leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris climate accord, Trump refused to endorse the accord, leaving the matter unresolved.  Following the summit the president posted a statement to Twitter, vowing to make a final decision on the climate accord by next week.  President Trump capped off his time overseas with a visit to the US Naval Air Station in Italy, where, in an address to US troops, he declared the first international trip of his presidency “a home run.”

News summary of events during the week of 20MAY17 – 29MAY17

  • 19MAY: Donald Trump left on his first foreign trip as US president. (DPA)
  • 20MAY: Saudi King Salman welcomed the president and first lady Melania Trump as they disembarked in Riyadh at the start of Trump’s eight-day foreign tour. (AFP)
  • 21MAY: President Trump and King Salman vowed to work together to counter ‘common enemies,’ and signed a weapons deal worth $110B, with a total worth $350B over 10 years. (AP)
  • 21MAY: President Trump held bilateral talks with the leaders of Egypt, Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait, discussing security and military deals. (NBC)
  • 21MAY: Trump urged Islamic leaders to take a stand against violence done in the name of religion, describing the struggle against extremism as a “battle between good and evil”. (AP)
  • 21MAY: Trump and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman inaugurated a new state-of-the-art center in Riyadh to monitor and combat extremism. (EFE)
  • 22MAY: Israeli ministers approved measures aimed at improving the Palestinian economy and facilitating crossings, rare moves said to be at Donald Trump’s request ahead of his arrival. (AFP)
  • 22MAY: Trump spoke of a “rare opportunity” to bring stability to the region as he landed in Israel; he also hailed the “unbreakable bond” between the US and Israel. (AFP)
  • 22MAY: During a visit to Jerusalem, Trump said that Iran must never be allowed to have nuclear weapons while also denouncing Tehran’s support for “terrorists”. (REU)
  • 22MAY: President Trump met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem. (NBC)
  • 23MAY: Trump arrived in Rome for meetings with Italian leaders and Pope Francis in Vatican City. (REU)
  • 24MAY: President Trump met with Pope Francis, who urged him not to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord. (NYT)
  • 24MAY: President Trump arrived in Brussels, Belgium, ahead of NATO, EU meetings. (REU)
  • 25MAY: Trump met French President Emmanuel Macron, who urged the American leader not to make any hasty decisions on the global climate change deal.  (REU)
  • 25MAY: In his speech at NATO headquarters, President Trump  lectured the alliance members about paying their fair share on communal defense. (AP)
  • 26MAY: A summit of G7 leaders failed to make progress on narrowing differences between the US and its partners on climate change. (AFP)
  • 27MAY: G7 nations risked unprecedented deadlock as Trump resisted pressure to sign up to joint positions on hot-button issues such as climate change, trade and migration (AFP).
  • 27MAY: President Donald Trump said in a Twitter post that he would make a decision on whether to support a landmark international agreement on climate change next week. (REU)
  • 27MAY: German leader Angela Merkel said that Trump’s G7 partners remained in the dark about his intentions on climate change, calling the debate at a summit in Sicily “very unsatisfactory”. (AFP)
  • 27MAY: President Trump, addressing US troops at Sigonella Naval Air Station in Italy in the final event of his first foreign trip, called his international tour “a home run.” (AP)

Sample of Twitter handles tweeting about US President Trump’s trip to the Middle East and Europe

    • @ananavarroAna Navarro, Contributor on CNN, ABC, and Telemundo
    • @brianklaasBrian Klaas, Fellow, London School of Economics School of Government
    • @ianbremmer Ian Bremmer, Professor of Political Science, New York University
    • @JacobAWohlJacob Wohl, CEO, Montgomery Assets; Political Commentator, Vice and Fox News

 

  • @KenRothKenneth Roth, Executive Director, Human Rights Watch

 

  • @MaxBootMax Boot, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

Sample of Third Party Validators regarding the US President Trump’s trip to the Middle East and Europe

Jon Alterman, Senior Vice President, Center for Strategic and International Studies

“The mood of Article 5, the idea that we are all in this together, is not the mood he conveyed. The mood he conveyed is you guys are a bunch of freeloaders.”

  • “Trump returns from first overseas trip, declares success,” AP, 28MAY17

 

Nicholas Burns, Professor and Former Diplomat, Harvard University

“Every US President since Truman has pledged support for Article 5—that US will defend Europe. Not so Trump today at NATO. Major mistake.”

  • “Trump Sells Out NATO!,” WSJ, 25MAY17

Henry Farrell, Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, George Washington University

“When Trump visited NATO, he dedicated a plaque to the one time that Article 5 has been invoked — when all members of NATO promised to come to the United States’ support after the attack on Sept. 11, 2001.”

  • “Thanks to Trump, Germany says it can’t rely on the United States. What does that mean?” WP, 28MAY17

Fawaz Gerges, Professor of Middle East Studies, London School of Economics

“Donald Trump now accepts the view of Saudi Arabia as a strategic bastion in the Arab and Islamic World. What you are seeing now is that the Saudi-led coalition feels empowered. They are on the offensive. It’s a new era. Everyone has to toe the line and join this alliance.”

  • “By backing Saudi Arabia’s vision of the Middle East, Trump may be sowing the seeds of conflict,” WP, 27May17

Richard Haas, President, Council on Foreign Relations

“It’s as if the trip were staffed by two different teams and were carried out by two different presidents.”

  • “Trump Shows Two Different Negotiating Styles on Trip Overseas,” WSJ, 26MAY17

Sample of open source research conducted by TRG analysts related to the US President Trump’s trip to the Middle East and Europe

  1. Mild in Mideast, Trump Is All Elbows in a Europe Eager to Jab Back

Media: New York Times

Byline: Mark Landler and Michael D. Shearmay

Date: 26 May 2017

TAORMINA, Sicily — “Trump shoves his allies,” read the front page of Belgium’s Le Soir. “Boor in chief” declared Germany’s financial newspaper Handelsblatt. An editorial in Le Monde called him “brutal and heavy-handed.”

President Trump is winning as many headlines in Europe as he did in the Middle East. But as he arrived in the beguiling seaside town of Taormina for a meeting of the Group of 7 countries on Friday, the smooth statesman celebrated in Saudi Arabia and Israel is now being portrayed as the ugly American, trampling America’s friends and trashing the  trans-Atlantic alliance.

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  1. Trump Shows Two Different Negotiating Styles on Trip Overseas

Media: Wall Street Journal

Byline: Carol E. Lee and Julian E. Barnes

Date: 26 May 2017

In his official debut on the world stage, President Donald Trump showcased two dramatically different negotiating styles, one that awakened optimism among Middle Eastern leaders and one that left some U.S. allies in Europe slack-jawed.

In Saudi Arabia, Israel and the West Bank, Mr. Trump took a conciliatory approach. He studiously avoided raising issues such as human rights that might have upset his hosts. He showered Arab and Israeli leaders with praise, weapons and personal attention, and even joined a sword dance to prod an ally toward his policy goals.

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  1. Trump maps new course with allies and autocrats in first foreign trip

Media: Los Angeles Times

Byline: Michael A. Memoli

Date: 27 May 2017

Donald Trump made no secret during the presidential campaign of his disdain for America’s trading partners, his skepticism of longtime alliances and his eagerness to refocus U.S. foreign policy on the single-minded pursuit of American security.

That was the largely the president the world got as Trump made his way through the Middle East and Western Europe over the last nine days,

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  1. Trump’s trip: Conventional images and unconventional talk

Media: Associated Press

Byline: Julie Pace and Jonathan Lemire

Date: 28 May 2017

TAORMINA, Sicily — As he dashed through the Middle East and Europe, Donald Trump looked like a conventional American leader abroad. He solemnly laid a wreath at a Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, had an audience with the pope at the Vatican and stood center stage with Western allies at the annual summits that dominate the diplomatic calendar.

But when Trump spoke, he sounded like anything but a typical U.S. president.

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  1. Merkel, After Discordant G-7 Meeting, Is Looking Past Trump

Media: New York Times

Byline: Alison Smale and Steven Erlanger

Date: 29 May 2017

BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Europe’s most influential leader, has concluded, after three days of trans-Atlantic meetings, that the United States of President Trump is not the reliable partner her country and the Continent have automatically depended on in the past.

Clearly disappointed with Mr. Trump’s positions on NATO, Russia, climate change and trade, Ms. Merkel said in Munich on Sunday that traditional alliances were no longer as steadfast as they once were and that Europe should pay more attention to its own interests “and really take our fate into our own hands.”

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