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Former chief of staff to Colin Powell: Trump is sitting with devil by working with Saudi Arabia

Former chief of staff to Ret. Gen. Colin Powell, Lawrence Wilkerson, said on Tuesday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpKey takeaways from the Arizona Senate debate Major Hollywood talent firm considering rejecting Saudi investment money: report Mattis says he thought 'nothing at all' about Trump saying he may leave administration MORE is sitting with the devil by working with Saudi Arabia, referring to the country as "the greatest state sponsor of terrorism in the world." 

“Donald Trump has apparently made a decision to sit with the devil," Wilkerson told Hill.TV's Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton on "Rising." 

"You can say there are two devils, Tehran and Riyadh, but look what Tehran supports, for example, in the realm of terrorism: Hezbollah and Hamas. Both irate against Israel, not against any global targets or against the United States. What does Saudi Arabia support and what is Saudi Arabia doing right now in Yemen, with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen? Probably the strongest and most capable element of al Qaeda left in the world," he continued. 

"[Ayman] Zawahiri is probably there or close by," he added, referring to al Qaeda's current leader. "They’re helping them. They’re leaving them with their arms. They’re paying them. Anytime al Qaeda will help Saudi Arabia against the Houthi rebels, al Qaeda is welcomed into Saudi arms." 

“Remember, 15 of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi. [9/11 mastermind Osama] Bin Laden was a Saudi contractor. So, we’re aligned with the devil right now against a lesser devil," he said. "They are the greatest state sponsor of terrorism in the world." 

Wilkerson's former boss, Powell, as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff helped oversee U.S. involvement during the Gulf War in the early 1990s, in which the U.S. and Saudi Arabia were part of a military coalition. 

The Trump administration has engaged in arms deals with Saudi Arabia and has teamed up with the country to intervene in Yemen's civil war. 

Wilkerson's comments come after The Associated Press reported on Monday that the U.S.-backed military coalition led by Saudi Arabia in Yemen paid al Qaeda fighters in the area to leave key battle areas and that the payments supported the terror organization maintaining its numbers and resources in the region. 

Simultaneously, the Trump administration reimposed sanctions on Saudi Arabia's rival Iran on Tuesday as a result of President Trump's decision to pull the U.S. from the multinational Iran nuclear deal. 

— Julia Manchester