Saudi King Salman joins President Trump's push for 'safe zones' in Syria, Yemen

In a telephone call Sunday with President Trump, Saudi Arabia's King Salman agreed on the importance of strengthening joint efforts to fight the spread of Islamic State militants.

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
US President Donald Trump speaks by phone with Saudi Arabia's King Salman in the Oval Office on Sunday.

President Trump and Saudi Arabia's King Salman came to an agreement on Sunday to support safe zones in Syria and Yemen while strengthening efforts to fight the spread of Islamic terrorism, according to a White House statement, amid international backlash over Mr. Trump's executive orders limiting immigration and refugees.

In a telephone call, the two leaders agreed to ramp up counter-terrorism efforts through military and economic cooperation, including an increased Saudi presence in the US-led initiative to expel Islamic State militants from areas they control in Iraq and Syria. King Salman and Trump also agreed on the need to address "Iran's destabilizing regional activities," according to the White House. 

"The president requested, and the King agreed, to support safe zones in Syria and Yemen, as well as supporting other ideas to help the many refugees who are displaced by the ongoing conflicts," the White House said in a statement, Reuters reports.

The two also discussed the Islamic organization known as the Muslim Brotherhood. Saudi Arabia has declared the group to be a terrorist organization, and Mr. Trump’s administration has floated ideas of doing the same and subjecting it to US sanctions, sources said.

The call came as protesters gathered at airports around the country to decry Trump’s executive order on immigration. The order bars those from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen from entering the country for 90 days. It also places a 120-day hold on admitting new refugees, and bars Syrian refugees indefinitely.

Emergency court orders served to put a temporary stay on some aspects of the executive action. Advocacy groups, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, have vowed to pursue further legal action against the orders, which many argue are unconstitutional.

It was not immediately clear if the two leaders discussed the executive orders, but various world leaders and global Muslim organizations have taken harsh stances against the action.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a group based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, that includes representatives from 57 nations, opposes the order.

"Such selective and discriminatory acts will only serve to embolden the radical narratives of extremists and will provide further fuel to the advocates of violence and terrorism at a critical time," the OIC said in a Monday statement, as reported by the Associated Press. "The OIC calls upon the United States government to reconsider this blanket decision and maintain its moral obligation to provide leadership and hope at a time of great uncertainty and unrest in the world."

Trump has continued to defend the order, saying the ban “is about terror and keeping our country safe" and is not a religious-based "Muslim ban."

This report includes material from the Associated Press and Reuters.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.