US-GCC Summit at Camp David

US President Barack Obama invited the leaders of the member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), namely Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman, for a summit.
The GCC leaders first visited Obama in the White House on May 13 and then held a summit at Camp David on May 14. Two days before the meeting, it was announced in Riyadh that Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz would not participate in the summit and that Saudi Arabia would be represented by its two most influential princes, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Nayef and Mohammed bin Salman, the kingand’s son, the minister of defense and the deputy crown prince. The participation of the princes rather than the king in the summit has the aantage of exposing the young princes to the hardship of diplomacy, which is sometimes more difficult to handle than taking military action.
The main purpose of the summit was to dispel the fear of the Gulf countries stemming from the nuclear deal that may be finalized in a few weeksand’ time between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) and Germany (P5+1). and”They reviewed the status of negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran, and emphasized that a comprehensive, verifiable deal that fully addresses the regional and international concerns about Iranand’s nuclear program is in the security interests of GCC member states as well as the United States and the international community,and” reads the joint statement issued at the end of the summit.
This statement indicates that Obama was able to explain to the Gulf countries the merit of his Iran policy but it is not clear whether the Gulf leaders agreed to this policy or they simply could not oppose the position of their host. Another important issue discussed in the summit was the insistent demand of Gulf countries for security guarantees in the face of threats that they perceive to come from a stronger Iran. The US did not turn a deaf ear to these demands but it did not go as far as meeting all of their expectations. On this subject the joint statement says that and”the leaders underscored their mutual commitment to a U.S.-GCC strategic partnership to build closer relations in all fields, including defense and security cooperation, and develop collective approaches to regional issues in order to aance their shared interest in stability and prosperity.and”
On the Yemeni crisis, far from satisfying the expectation of Saudi Arabia to endorse its hasty decision to launch air raids, the joint statement contains sentences that could be interpreted as a warning to Saudi Arabia. It says, and”As with Operation Decisive Storm, GCC states will consult with the United States when planning to take military action beyond GCC borders, in particular when U.S. assistance is requested for such action.and”
On Syria, the Summit reiterated that the regime of President Bashar al-Assad had lost its legitimacy and that it has no role in Syriaand’s future. However, more emphasis is put on and”increased efforts to degrade and ultimately destroy [the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)] in Syriaand” and the leaders warned against the influence of and”other extremist groups, such as al-Nusra, that represent a danger to the Syrian people, to the region and to the international community.and” The reference to Jabhat al-Nusra may not reflect exactly the position of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, but the US position on this terrorist organization seems to have prevailed in the summit.
On Iraq, they reaffirmed their commitment to assisting the Iraqi government and the international coalition in their fight against ISIL. On Palestine, the commitment to the two-state solution is underlined and the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative is reiterated once more. The Arab Peace Initiative was launched in 2002 and provides for the normalization of relations between Israel and the Arab world in exchange for the complete withdrawal of Israel from the occupied territories including East Jerusalem and a just settlement of the Palestinian refugee problem based on UN Resolution 194.
Overall, the most important result of the summit is that the US and Gulf countries have started to view the rise of Iran in the region in more realistic terms.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman