As Donald Trump set off on his first foreign trip since taking the office, to the world’s most unstable and dangerous region which made some some observers worried. Though, as it turned out, the Middle Eastern leg of Mr. Trump’s nine-day maiden voyage was one of the less tumultuous periods of his presidency so far. Nonetheless, with a additional tilt towards Saudi Arabia’s Sunni population and against Iranian Shias, the president has increased, not smoothed, the tensions that so bedevil the area. 

In Riyadh, where he arrived on May 20th, Mr Trump attempted to reset his relationship with the Muslim world, strained by his own Islamophobic rhetoric. But in a speech on May 21st he declared that the fight against extremism is “a battle between good and evil”, not “between different faiths”. Blaming most of the region’s problems on terrorism, he urged his audience of Sunni Muslim leaders to “drive out” extremists. 

Israeli and American officials claimed that in closed talks the president had insisted that he is serious about making peace. But for now at least, he seems to be content with letting the two sides work out the details for themselves. Many observers, perhaps naively, had expected some sign of increased pressure on Israel to make compromises but unfortunately Mr. Trump gave no hint of the fact that is was possible. 

NEHA JAVED,  

Karachi, June 2.