Trump’s smooth trip to Saudi Arabia, and even to Israel has a lot to do with Egyptian-born Dina Powell, who is his deputy national security adviser for strategy. Powell who speaks fluent Arabic, was a very valuable asset in Trump’s bid to connect to the Arab world during his trip. She earlier served in the George W. Bush administration, and joined Trump’s team with important contacts in the Arab world.
She came in as a domestic economic adviser to Ivanka Trump, the president’s powerful daughter, helping her in her new White House role . but Powell’s extra value was quickly noticed and she was quietly elevated in the US National Security Council.
Trump’s Middle East trip however thrust her into the open, as her growing power and competence in Arab diplomatic issues was on full public display. That, you could call it, was her introduction to the public, both in the states and worldwide. She reminds one of Condoleeza Rice, President George Bush (junior’s) right hand woman.
At Trump’s bilateral meeting with Saudi’s King Salman,
Powell was notably the only woman at the table in a kingdom where women are often forced to take a backseat role. Powell, is credited with helping to craft a large part of Trump’s speech on Islam, which didn’t lead to diplomatic problems for the administration.
She was also part of the team that accompanied Trump to bilateral meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority. She and National Security Advisor, HR McMaster coordinated with the Pentagon to firm up the $110 billion U.S.-Saudi weapons deal which gave Trump a huge diplomatic victory at a time when he faces increased political troubles at home.
She and McMaster led the NSC’s interagency process for planning the trip, according to a White House source. That entailed frequent planning meetings over the past two months with powerful administration officials like Trump in-law and top advisor, Jared Kushner, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford and Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
No doubt, we will be hearing more of Dinah Powell in what is turning out to be an Arab-American rise to American leadership born of iron-clad competence.