In an interview with Muslim Press, Jim Slattery said “The West would be well to remember that Iran is the only country who has fought ISIS, the Taliban and al-Qaeda.”
Below, the full transcript of the interview has been presented.
Muslim Press: Reportedly, the Trump administration is poised to move quickly to approve major weapons packages for Saudi Arabia and Bahrain that President Obama blocked during his final months in office over human rights concerns in both nations. Would that make the Saudis more hawkish in the coming years?
Jim Slattery: The Middle East does not need more highly sophisticated weapons. This money would be better spent by Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region improving economic and educational opportunities for their citizens.
MP: How would Trump’s election change Saudi positions towards other Middle Eastern countries?
Jim Slattery: It is important that nations in the Middle East not overreact to statements by President Trump. It is clear that he is still getting his team in place and formulating policy positions on delicate issues affecting the region. It may take several more months before it is clear exactly what the Trump Administration will do in the region beyond fighting ISIS.
It is not clear how Trump’s policies will affect Saudi Arabia.
I do not believe it is constructive to rattle sabers in the Middle East. The U.S. must be a force for peace and moderation throughout the region.
The Iraq War has been terribly destabilizing.
MP: As it seems, many Saudis are thrilled by Trump’s aggressive rhetoric against Iran and they encourage the new US president to take action against Iran’s influence in the region. What’s your take on this?
Jim Slattery: I believe Iran must be engaged. Iran is vitally important in the region whether people like it or not. Iran is a country with a population of nearly 80 million. This is three times the population of Iraq. Three times the population of Saudi Arabia and 10 times the population of Israel. Iran has massive oil and gas supplies that are nearly the size of Saudi Arabia. Iran or Persia is a highly sophisticated culture that pre dates Israel.
Iran’s population has an 85 to 90 percent literacy rate. 60 percent of the University Students are female and 65 % of the graduate students are female. This is unique in the world of Islam. No other Islamic Country has this many educated women.
The West and Israel must figure out how to constructively engage Iran. The JCPOA can be the first step. I am pleased that both President Trump and Israeli P.M. B.B. Netanyahu apparently now agree that the JCPOA should be enforced.
The West would be well to remember that Iran is the only country who has fought ISIS, the Taliban and al Qaeda. Iran wants to destroy ISIS as bad as the U.S. and it seems like we should find a way to cooperate in this effort.
Iran is a Shia Persian country surrounded by Sunni Arabs. The West needs to learn how to talk to Shia Islam with an awareness that radical Sunnis hate the Shias.
Lastly, the United States must never forget that all acts of radical Islamic terror committed in the U.S. have been committed by Sunni radicals. Not one terrorist attack in the U.S. has been committed by a Shia Iranian.
MP: You have said that the Saudis encourage terrorism through funding Madrassa schools and Wahhabi mosques in Islamic countries and the Balkans. Could you explain how and in what countries this is happening?
Jim Slattery: As I previously stated, various Saudis have funded Madrassas Schools in the Balkans, Indonesia, Pakistan and in other Moslem Countries. The curriculum of these schools has been designed to teach young Moslems a very harsh and extreme version of Islam. Many of these young Moslems leave these schools with strong negative views about Christians, Jews and Shia Moslems. These schools are doing serious damage in the Islamic World because they are teaching youngsters to join ISIS and other terrorist organizations.
James Charles Slattery is an American politician. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1983 to 1995 representing Kansas's 2nd congressional district as a Democrat, was the Democratic nominee for governor in 1994 and was the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senator in 2008.