World Bulletin / News Desk
Saudi Arabia is looking to assert its regional leadership against Iran by hosting a summit between visiting US President Donald Trump and Muslim leaders from around the world, analysts say.
Trump, on his first foreign trip since taking office in January, will tell Muslim leaders of his "hopes for a peaceful vision of Islam" as he seeks support for the war against radical Islamists, Washington has said.
Muslim leaders may also be looking for Trump to build bridges after allegations of Islamophobia against his administration and its effort to bar travellers from six Muslim-majority countries.
But for Riyadh, analysts say, a primary goal is to showcase its leadership of the Muslim world, especially in the face of regional rival Iran.
"This is as much a sign of Saudi regional leadership" as of US assertiveness, and aims to show the extent to which the kingdom can gather key Muslim leaders, said Adam Baron, a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.
Leaders and representatives of 55 countries -- from the southeast Asian sultanate of Brunei to Africa's Niger and heavyweights including Turkey -- have been invited by King Salman for Sunday's summit with Trump.
The summit will be one of three weekend meetings, as Trump holds bilateral talks with top Saudi officials and with leaders of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) which includes Saudi Arabia.
The bilateral summit on Saturday comes with Saudi leaders rebuilding crucial ties with Washington after feeling that Trump's predecessor Barack Obama tilted too much toward Tehran.
The 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers including the United States was a major step toward ending Tehran's international isolation but raised serious concerns in Arab capitals.
Doing 'the dirty work'
Iran, the Middle East's second largest power by economy and population, is the Shiite Muslim rival of regional Sunni giant Saudi Arabia.
Tehran denies the charges and in turn says Riyadh supports radical Islamist groups.
Iran, which holds a presidential election on Friday pitting moderate incumbent Hassan Rouhani against hardline jurist Ebrahim Raisi, is also likely to loom large over Sunday's summit, analysts said.
"This summit has a very clear message to the radical Iranian regime that there will be a global consensus and global agreement between the United States and the Arab and Muslim world," said Salman al-Ansari, president of the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee (SAPRAC), a private initiative to strengthen Saudi-US ties.
The summit is part of preparations for a new US strategy mobilising the Muslim world against ISIL, as well as against Iran-backed militias such as Lebanon-based Hezbollah, said Mustafa Alani, a senior adviser to the Gulf Research Centre.
"I think this is going to be important because it's supposed to translate into action on the ground, financial participation, troop participation, intelligence exchange."
Alani said the new US administration recognises that Saudi Arabia is a "super-regional state" whose help is required to contain Iran and combat "terrorism".
"We are witnessing now a change in the tone, change in policy" from Trump, he said.
Krieg agreed Trump needs a partner -- but one to do "the dirty work" for a country that does not want its own military deeply involved, reflecting Trump's policy of "America First".
"In the end 'America First' means using the GCC and Arab partners as proxies and surrogates, propped up with US equipment and training (paid for by these partners), to implement US policy," he said.
Activist is vocal opponent of controversial border demarcation agreement with Saudi Arabia
Ship dispatched by Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) carries 10,000 tons of supplies to blockaded enclave
U.S. Statement Department questioned motives of Gulf allies for their blockade on Qatar
Signaling Washington's mounting frustration at Riyadh's role in the crisis, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert called into question whether Qatar's alleged support for terrorism is its true cause.
Arrests come two weeks after terrorist group claims responsibility for deadly twin attacks in Tehran
Transfer of two Red Sea islands to Saudi sovereignty would make Riyadh party to 1979 Egypt-Israel peace agreement, MP says
Javad Zarif is slated to meet Mauritanian president, foreign minister to discuss bilateral ties, regional developments
Three small boats entered Saudi territorial waters at about 8:30 pm on Friday and "headed at speed towards platforms of (the) Saudi oil field of Marjan", a government statement said.
The soldiers, part of the US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) which is headquartered in Bahrain, had been asked to leave the coalition and may depart within the next 48 hours, the source told AFP.
Syrian jet dropped bombs near U.S. partners forces, anti-ISIL coalition says
Strikes come after last week's deadly attacks in Tehran were claimed by terror network
Most of the casualties worked in the Mashnaq market in the rebel-controlled Saada province on the Saudi border, an official at a nearby hospital told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Sunday's verdicts are binding and cannot be appealed
"A bomb buried by the side of the road exploded" as the vehicle drove by in the early hours of the morning, the ministry said in a statement.
Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan will represent the United States at the regional meeting scheduled for Monday to Wednesday in the resort city of Cancun.