by Pepe Escobar
Feb. 1, 2017
Straight after the “extreme vetting” blitzkrieg – which, technically, is not a “Muslim ban” – President Trump called the lucidity-impaired King Salman of Saudi Arabia and “requested, and the king agreed to support” (in the words of the White House), safe zones in Syria and Yemen.
No wonder serial eyebrows were raised facing the prospect of a Trump/House of Saud alliance in Syria — which the Saudis have been destroying for years via weaponizing/cash support for “rebels” – and Yemen – which the Saudis have been bombing in an unwinnable war.
Trump and King Salman did not exchange a single word on the “Muslim ban”. And why should they? Saudi Arabia is mercifully excluded from the “Muslim ban”.
The official White House statement did mention a Saudi request for Trump to lead “an effort” not only to “defeat terrorism” but also to improve the Middle East socially and economically. This could be easily interpreted as the House of Saud asking Trump to lead the Arab world. It will be no doubt exciting to monitor how the pan-Arab street will manifest its “approval”.
As for the safe zones, everyone is waiting for the Trump-ordered Pentagon assessment, to be led by “Mad Dog” Mattis, on how they would be enforced. Drones? Multiple Black Hawk patrols? Squadrons of fighter jets? Boots on the ground?
Certified jihadis with Saudi passports, meanwhile, enthusiastically turbo-charge their celebrations.
I’ll bomb your visa to ashes
On the “Muslim ban”, let’s cut to the chase. Trump’s seven-nation list is the Obama administration’s list. These nations were “rounded up” by the Obama administration already in 2011, and are included in Obama’s Terrorist Travel Protection Act 2015.
Homeland Security was already targeting these seven nations as “countries of concern”. Customs and Border Protection, detailing the “Visa Waiver Program and Terrorist Travel Protection Act of 2015”, even explicitly mentioned the seven nations. The whole package was signed into law on December 18, 2015, as part of the Omnibus Appropriations Act of fiscal year 2016.
So the Trump White House is essentially enforcing a law that already exists. In a nutshell, it has been official USG policy for over a year to target, and turn admission to the US, an absolute odyssey for these nationals.