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David Ramadan column: Trump has a fresh opportunity to enhance U.S. relationship with the Arab and Islamic world

posted May 18th, 2017



David Ramadan column: Trump has a fresh opportunity to enhance U.S. relationship with the Arab and Islamic world

Maintaining a strong relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the other four Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries is more important now than ever before — and these relationships are decades old.

President Trump’s upcoming historic visit to Saudi Arabia to participate in a GCC summit — which is unprecedented — offers our nation the opportunity to send a clear and powerful message that the United States values its allies in the Arab world.

It also offers the president the opportunity to work with the leaders of the Arab nations to promote peace in the Middle East, fight terrorism, and counter Iran’s expanding political influence in the area.

The GCC for more than 35 years has promoted regional cooperation, and has the resources and the will to do whatever is necessary; thus the GCC is the right partner for the USA.

As with all our allies, there is a need for frank discussions among the United States and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the rest of the GCC countries.

This summit provides the opportunity for such discussions. Trump can address the mutual need to improve deterrents to terrorism and gain consensus on how to do so. It is in everyone’s interest to send a clear message that the U.S. and the Arab world stand united against extremism. Further, this trip could — if Trump plays his cards correctly — signal a fresh start between Trump and American Muslims.

Our partnership with the Arab world is most critical today given the threats facing our nation, posed by Iran, ISIS and political upheavals in the Middle East.

This is a strategic partnership based on common vital interests and cooperation.

For example, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates strongly backed Western interests against the former Soviet Union and fought as part of a coalition against Saddam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait.

Both countries continue to cooperate with the USA on national security issues.

After repeated failures in Syria, the Obama administration in the last few years practically withdrew from direct and active involvement in the Middle East — which opened the door for Russia and Iran to exert their influence and expand their dominance in the region. What’s more, as Obama moved forward with a nuclear treaty with Iran — a treaty that has short-term gains but could be devastating in the long term — he basically legitimized Iran’s nuclear program.

Our partners in the Arab world were left with the promise of a nuclear Iran threatening their existence. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the other GCC countries were forced into a nuclear race that they clearly did not want.

It is important for Trump to make clear to our Arab allies that the United States is back and fully engaged in the Middle East. Visiting Saudi Arabia and attending the GCC summit is an excellent start. The president must also make clear that the U.S. is willing to stand up to Iran and protect our Arab allies against any threat, including a nuclear one.

This visit offers the opportunity to show America’s allies and the rest of the world our desire to maintain and advance our vital partnerships with the Arab and Islamic countries.


David Ramadan is a former member of the Virginia House of Delegates (2012-2016) and an adjunct professor at George Mason University. He can be reached via email at info@davidramadan.com.



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Happy Cinco de Mayo!!

posted May 5th, 2017

Happy Cinco de Mayo!!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!!

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

posted March 17th, 2017

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!

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Ramadan: Trump has fresh opportunity to revisit Virginia’s energy potential

posted March 12th, 2017

Roanoke Times: Ramadan: Trump has fresh opportunity to revisit Virginia’s energy potential

With a new administration in the White House, now is the ideal time for lawmakers to take a fresh look at offshore energy exploration, an issue with tremendous potential to impact our nation and Virginia specifically. While the Obama administration twice put Virginia (along with three other Atlantic states) on the 5-year lease plan for offshore oil and natural gas exploration, in the election year of 2016 he not only put a moratorium on the lease sale, but then took the unprecedented step of indefinitely banning offshore drilling in the Atlantic via executive order.

Yet just a few years earlier, Obama cited the Atlantic as having tremendous potential for job creation and energy independence, and on those points he was absolutely correct. Forecasts predict more than 280,000 new jobs from energy exploration in the Atlantic, with anywhere from 15,000 to 30,000 in Virginia alone. It would spark more than $14 billion in economic activity in the Commonwealth, with a conservative estimate of an additional $1.8 billion in state revenue.

What’s more, Congress is now amenable to royalty sharing with the states, meaning Virginia could reap 37.5 percent of royalties for state spending, with another 12.5 percent going to Virginia conservation, transportation and renewable energy projects.

An even more frustrating aspect of Obama’s “permanent ban” is it flies in the face of wide bi-partisan support. Pro-exploration legislation was trumpeted in Washington by senators — Warner, Kaine and Webb, all Democrats. Governor McAuliffe has weighed in favorably. It was only when Senator Kaine was named to the Democratic ticket that he took a position against, a move that looks an awful lot like the triumph of politics over policy.

So let’s talk policy. First, it should be noted that drilling, even if green-lighted today, would not result in actual exploration for about 10 years, if not longer. Exhaustive geological, oceanic and environmental studies would have to be conducted first to determine what resources are available and the best means to reasonably and responsibly extract them. This not only means there is ample time for state officials, localities and citizens to weigh-in, as Senator Warner pointed out in his comments in support of exploration, but that the technology we use will be far more advanced, and safer, than what’s in place today in areas such as the Gulf of Mexico.

For decades safety and environmental concerns have driven much of the opposition to coastal energy exploration, but safety has increased markedly in just the last five years alone. As reported in The Hill, the Center for Offshore Safety monitored more than 100 new federal safety guidelines and found that in 2013 there was not a single loss of life or loss of well control after more than 42 million work hours on Gulf rigs. This is an exceptional track record of improved safety.

Policy, in the end, must stand up to the calculus of risk vs. reward — cost vs. benefit. But while exploration off our coast is currently banned, we actually have no earthly idea what we are banning. The last survey in the Atlantic showed 3 billion barrels of recoverable oil, and 25 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Advances in technology will surely show more, as in North Dakota where discovered reserves skyrocketed by 2,500 percent. Even a modest tripling of found resources in the Atlantic will make our area a major energy provider, with an economic boom that will diversify our economy, spark widespread economic investment and create thousands of high-paying permanent jobs.

But alas, the last administration didn’t even allow permits to survey the area, so we don’t even know what we are saying “no” to. How shortsighted. To even determine whether drilling is beneficial for our state and region, the Trump administration should prioritize undoing Obama’s shelving of Atlantic energy exploration so we can make an intelligent, informed decision on whether Virginia can reap future benefits.


David Ramadan | Ramadan is a former Republican member of the House of Delegates from Loudoun County. He is now an Adjunct Professor at George Mason University. He can be reachedat info@davidramadan.com


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