Transcript

For more insight, let's welcome Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum. Daniel, first of all, what do you make of the president's heavy personal diplomacy with all those leaders from the Middle East who have been visiting the White House?

It's quite extraordinary and there's more, even. He sent his personal representative, Jason Greenblatt, to the Middle East; his son-in-law has gone to Afghanistan and Iraq, and on and on, the secretary of defense has visited. It's an extraordinary emphasis on the Middle East. I don't exactly understand what Donald Trump is doing. [chuckles] It's a bit of a mystery for many of us, but the emphasis is there, clearly. Latin America, China, Europe – nobody gets this kind of attention but the Middle East.

So, like some of those critics in the piece, who said that it's unclear to them where he's headed in the Middle East, would you share the same view? You're not sure what it all adds up to?

I am absolutely not sure what it all adds up to. To recapitulate a couple of the points that were made earlier, the Iran deal, he said, is the worst deal in history. And yet, here we are, close to a hundred days later, and it's still there. And indeed the secretary of the state endorsed the Iranian behavior just a few days ago.

The American embassy in Israel was to be moved to Jerusalem. It still can, but it hasn't happened. There's not a word. They're 'studying it,' whatever that means. Now, the news that the president will be going to Israel, on the eve of the Israeli celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War, suggests that there might be an announcement then of the move of the embassy, but we don't know. And finally the attack –

I want to stop you. First though, on that point, because maybe we're not giving the president enough credit. He's meeting with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority leader a few weeks earlier, so – and our reporting suggests that he's going to say to Abbas, 'Look, you either agree to terms to restart peace talks, or I'm going to go ahead and move that embassy when I go to Jerusalem in a few weeks.' That's smart, isn't it?

This is pure speculation, I think. I would say that it seems like the timing of this visit would imply a move of the embassy, whatever Mahmoud Abbas does, but, this is not normal foreign policy. This is ad-libbed.

"[I]it all adds up to be a great big question mark."

This is bombing the Syrian Air Force base because of seeing pictures that got him upset. How can one predict on this basis? As one of the commentators said earlier, "Is this a one-time thing? Is this a new policy?" We do not know, but we do know that Mr. Trump said that he would not be getting further engaged in Syria, and here he did.

So, to me, it all adds up to be a great big question mark. It is less than a hundred days. There's a long time to go. There's a lot of personnel to fill out. The State Department is, essentially, just the secretary of state and a couple of ambassadors, to the United Nations and to Israel. So, it's on autopilot. I like predicting, but I feel I can't in this case."

Daniel Pipes, from the Middle East Forum. Daniel, thanks so much. We really appreciate it.