Beyond Riyadh

  • After Hub-and-Spoke: US Hegemony in a New Gulf Security Order

    On Friday, April 29 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. the Atlantic Council hosted a discussion of a new report by Brent Scowcroft Center Senior Fellow Bilal Saab, entitled After Hub-and-Spoke: US Hegemony in a New Gulf Security Order, and a debate on US global defense posture in the next decade and how it might affect future US designs in the region. Regional transformation and chaos resulting from the Arab uprisings, the rise of the Islamic State (or ISIS) in the Middle East and beyond, shifting US global priorities, and the increasing influence of outside powers in the Gulf have created a new geopolitical context for the United States’ commitment to the security of the Gulf. The panel discussed the ways in which the region’s new strategic trends and security dynamics impact US interests, priorities, and future force posture and the ways in which the...
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  • US-GCC Ties Need to Expand Beyond Oil

    As the perceived notion of oil-for-security diminishes with the United States’ declining demand for oil from the Middle East, the Gulf Cooperation Council states must develop their militaries, fight threatening ideologies, and decrease their economies’ dependence on oil without waiting for the United States to lead the way. However, even as the United States and the GCC fail to see eye to eye on some of the region’s security issues, both sides would be well served to advance their shared economic interests beyond oil.

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  • From Reassurance to Shared Interests: Bridging the Gulf at the Riyadh Summit

    President Barack Obama’s meeting with the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Saudi Arabia this week is a previously scheduled follow-up to last year’s Camp David meeting, which notably secured the Gulf states’ passive endorsement of the Iran nuclear deal. There is no comparable deliverable expected this week, and the case for low expectations is made stronger by President Obama’s limited time remaining in office. Indeed, the most important accomplishment of this week’s Riyadh meeting may be that it is held at all.  It should serve as a signal to internal and external audiences that despite differences and grievances on both sides, the partnership between the United States and the GCC remains important. This is not an insignificant message, given the state of the region and the tenor of recent Washington commentary.
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  • Keeping the Possibility of Peace in Yemen Alive

    The talks at the GCC summit this week provide an opportunity for President Barack Obama to address the war and humanitarian crisis in Yemen. The delegation representing the Houthis and ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s General People’s Congress (GPC) delegations finally turned up today for peace talks in Kuwait, but the prospects for ending the war soon are hanging by a thread. Obama’s visit to the region could keep the possibility alive by encouraging Saudi Arabia to adhere to the ceasefire whether or not the talks produce immediate results.
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  • Countering Iran’s Malign Influence in the Gulf

    At the Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Riyadh on April 21, US President Barack Obama will be looking to provide reassurances that the United States remains committed to the security of the region, even as his administration upholds the Iran nuclear agreement, which many of the United States’ Gulf partners see as undermining their interests and ceding too much power to the Islamic Republic. Past efforts at such assurances have included promises of military equipment, including missile defense, but these solutions fall short on addressing the GCC member states’ core concern: Iran’s malign influence in the region. Emboldened by the economic windfall borne out of the lifting of sanctions from the nuclear deal, Iran is upending the regional balance of power and expanding its sway in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere.

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  • Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot?

    The hallowed US-Gulf bargain of “oil for security” is past its sell-by date; the future of the US-Gulf relationship is up for grabs. It has always been a fraught relationship.  Right from the outset, the United States never kept its promise to consult with the Saudis before recognizing Israel. Since 9/11, the relationship has grown much rockier—with many Americans blaming the Kingdom for the attack. From the perspective of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the United States went ahead and invaded Iraq in 2003, upsetting the delicate Sunni-Shia balance. Adding insult to injury, Washington further enhanced Iran’s position with the nuclear agreement, which was concluded last summer. The coup de grace was the United States’ development of shale oil and gas that is likely to cap the selling price of Saudi and GCC oil for the next decade or two—gone are the heady days of $90-$100 per barrel oil.   

    Relationships can be restructured, however, and a...

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  • EXPERT ANALYSIS Beyond Riyadh: Breaking Down the US-GCC Summit

    Beyond Riyadh: Breaking Down the US-GCC Summit


    Zalmay Khalilzad
    President; Board Director
    Gryphon Partners; Atlantic Council

    Barry Pavel
    Vice President, Arnold Kanter Chair, and Director, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security
    Atlantic Council

    Ali Tulbah
    Managing Director
    McLarty Associates

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  • Saab Joins Al Jazeera English to Discuss President Obama's Visit to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council

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  • US Disengagement from Middle East ‘Raises a Question About American Values’

    On the eve of the US-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Riyadh on April 21, Ebtesam Al-Ketbi, President of the Emirates Policy Center in Abu Dhabi, discusses key challenges in the United States’ relationship with its Arab Gulf partners, the cost of US disengagement, and the Iranian threat.

    Ebtesam Al-Ketbi shared her views in an e-mail interview with the New Atlanticist’s Ashish Kumar Sen. Here are excerpts from the interview.

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  • The Missing Multilateralism: Building Institutional Relations between the US and the GCC

    Ahead of President Barack Obama’s visit to the GCC Summit in Riyadh, the focus from the White House is all on the immediate. In what is likely the last trip to the Gulf of the Obama presidency, issues like the war against the Islamic State (ISIS) and Iranian regional activities dominate. The agenda for the summit is, however, limited by the short-term scope of its ambitions, and little mind is being paid to how to move forward once these initial objectives are achieved. This might be natural for a President who only has eight months left in office, but it represents a chronic symptom of the American relationship with the Gulf states that hinders the relationship from rising to its full potential.
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