Bloomberg reports: President Donald Trump again showed how quickly his tweets can outrun U.S. foreign policy planning, after he backed Saudi Arabia’s king and crown prince over the arrests of dozens of officials before the State Department had completed its review of the moves.
While Trump had talked with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson about Saudi Arabia as they toured Tokyo together Nov. 5 and 6, there was no formal consultation before he tweeted early Tuesday that King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman “know exactly what they are doing.”
I have great confidence in King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, they know exactly what they are doing….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2017
A second tweet said “some of those they are harshly treating have been ‘milking’ their country for years!”
The tweets were only the latest time Trump has set U.S. foreign policy in 140 characters. It effectively gave the crown prince the full weight of the U.S. backing despite serious questions remaining about Saudi Arabia’s commitment to the rule of law and its ability to guarantee financial transactions.
“Having the United States in many ways supporting a position that is seen as quite controversial can be problematic for the region,” Raihan Ismail, an associate lecturer at the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies at the Australian National University in Canberra, said by phone. “Regional instability will continue to spook foreign investors. The Trump administration is seen as erratic.” [Continue reading…]