There are already some signs that Trump’s endorsement of Sunni states, however repressive, is leading to an escalation of hostilities between Sunni and Shia.
In Bahrain, where a Sunni minority rules a Shia majority, the security forces attacked the Shia village of Diraz today. It is home to the island’s leading Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim, who has just received a one-year suspended sentence for financing extremism.
One man in the village is reported to have been killed as the police moved in, using armoured vehicles and firing shotguns and tear gas canisters.
President Obama had frosty relations with the Bahraini rulers because of the mass incarceration of protesters and use of torture when the security forces crushed democratic protests in 2011.
Trump backed away from past policy when he met Bahraini King Hamad in Riyadh at the weekend, saying: “Our countries have a wonderful relationship together, but there has been a little strain, but there won’t be strain with this administration.”
The bombing in Manchester – and atrocities attributed to Isis influence in Paris, Brussels, Nice and Berlin – are similar to even worse slaughter of tens of thousands in Iraq and Syria. These get limited attention in the Western media, but they continually deepen the sectarian war in the Middle East.
The only feasible way to eliminate organisations capable of carrying out these attacks is to end the seven wars – Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and north east Nigeria – that cross-infect each other and produce the anarchic conditions in which Isis and al-Qaeda and their clones can grow.
But to end these wars, there needs to be political compromise between main players like Iran and Saudi Arabia and Trump’s belligerent rhetoric makes this almost impossible to achieve.
Of course, the degree to which his bombast should be taken seriously is always uncertain and his declared policies change by the day.
On his return to the US, his attention is going to be fully focused on his own political survival, not leaving much time for new departures, good or bad, in the Middle East and elsewhere. His administration is certainly wounded, but that has not stopped doing as much harm as he could in the Middle East in a short space of time.