Gulf Cooperation Council

  • The Gulf’s Evolving Regional Theater

    A month later and the Saudi-led decision to blockade Qatar is escalating tensions in the Gulf to the detriment of US security interests. Increasingly so, regional actors like Tehran and Ankara are becoming stakeholders in the conflict, and are actively taking steps to shape it in ways that suit their respective interests and regional visions. This will only serve to perpetuate the rift and complicate negotiations efforts, as downscaling ties with Iran and Turkey are leading demands of Saudi. The United States has a security interest in preventing the conflict from devolving into another regional theater. If the US approach remains divided, or worse, divisive, Washington could soon see its ability to leverage its influence eroding.

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  • Haid in Middle East Eye: How the Gulf Crisis Could Spill Over into Rebel Rivalry in Syria

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  • Trump Navigates the Middle East

    US President Donald J. Trump signaled through his meeting with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ), crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the armed forces of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), in Washington on May 15 his administration’s commitment to working closely with the UAE and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states to counter Iran’s expanding influence in the Arab world and fight al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).

    On May 19, Trump travels to Saudi Arabia where he will meet King Salman and up to twenty heads of state of Muslim-majority countries. MbZ’s visit to Washington has, in part, helped Trump prepare for his engagements in Saudi Arabia.

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  • Macron’s Victory is Welcome News for Saudi Arabia and Qatar

    Emmanuel Macron’s election as the next president of France is positive news for Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Among the four leading candidates in the presidential election, Riyadh and Doha most favored Macron, whose foreign policy positions are pro-European Union (EU) and who is expected to continue Paris’ overall approach to international affairs. More specifically, Macron’s victory will likely preserve France’s relationships with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which have deepened under outgoing French President François Hollande and his predecessor, Nicholas Sarkozy.

    A victory for Macron’s rival, far-right National Front candidate, Marine Le Pen, would have been bad news for France-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) relations. Her foreign policy agenda entailed aligning Paris more closely with Moscow on regional issues, chiefly Syria, where Russia and the GCC’s interests have clashed. Le Pen also frequently accused Saudi Arabia and Qatar of supporting the Islamic State in the Iraq and...

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  • Why Bahrain Prefers Trump over Obama

    Since the start of the unrest in Bahrain in 2011, officials in Washington and London have had mainly two attitudes toward the island sheikdom. On one hand, they believe Bahrain’s Western backers must urge the ruling Al Khalifa family to enact reforms in response to concerns such as the marginalization of Shi’ites and violation of human rights. On the other hand, they believe that the United States’ and the United Kingdom’s geopolitical and security interests, particularly when it comes to fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and countering Iran’s ascendancy, are more important than promoting human rights.

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  • Russia and the UAE: Friends with Benefits

    Russia’s deepening engagement in the Middle East is a positive development from the United Arab Emirates’ perspective. The Emiratis, with their unique relationship with the Kremlin, are trying to resolve regional security challenges that threaten their interests. More importantly, the Emiratis’ relationship with the Kremlin could help the UAE become an important interlocutor in efforts to defuse tensions between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    The UAE’s strong relationship with Russia was on display when Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (MBZ), Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, visited Putin in the Kremlin on April 20. The two discussed crises in the Middle East as well as strengthening an already substantial relationship between their two countries....

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  • Jordan’s Six Challenges at the Arab League Summit

    On March 29, Jordan will host the Arab League summit amid chaos across the Middle East.  There is speculation that Russia and Egypt are pressing the Arab League to invite Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to the summit in light of reports that Syrian military officers have visited Jordan and Egypt over the past few weeks. Assad’s presence at the summit could bring about a sea change in Syria’s relationship with a host of other Arab states. 

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  • Lessons from a Regional Approach to Solving the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

    Towards the end of their press conference on February 15, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald J. Trump hinted at their evolving strategy to solve the Israel-Palestine conflict and broader Arab-Israeli differences through a regional approach. 

    Netanyahu: And I believe that the great opportunity for peace comes from a regional approach from involving our newfound Arab partners in the pursuit of a broader peace and peace with the Palestinians. And I greatly look forward to discussing this in detail with you, Mr. President, because I think that if we work together, we have a shot.

    Trump:  And we have been discussing that, and it is something that is very different, hasn't been discussed before. And it's actually a much bigger deal, a much more important deal, in a sense. It would take in many, many countries and it would cover a very large territory. So, I...

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  • Can the Iran Nuclear Deal Survive Donald Trump?

    Donald Trump’s election as the next president of the United States has created uncertainty for the future of the nuclear deal with Iran. On the campaign trail, Trump made no secret of his opposition to the deal—formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). However, even if Trump’s administration retards the implementation of the JCPOA, the United States probably cannot singlehandedly unravel it.

    The JCPOA is not a bilateral agreement. It is between the United States and six other governments, none of which oppose the nuclear deal, which Trump has called “the worst deal ever.” Of course, as president, he will have to work with Russia, China, and Washington’s European allies, none of which are likely to withdraw from the JCPOA. The foreign policy establishment in Washington, too, overwhelmingly favors the deal.

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  • Trump Must Reassure Israel, Gulf Partners Over Iran, says Retired Gen. David H. Petraeus

    This is Part 1 of a two-part interview.

    As the next president of the United States, Donald Trump should reassure both Arab Gulf partners and Israel of a US commitment to address the threat posed by Iran, said retired Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, a former director of the CIA who serves on the Atlantic Council’s board of directors.

    “There is going to have to be work [done] together as there is a determination of what should be announced with respect to Iran,” Petraeus said in an interview. “How should we, together with our Gulf state and Israeli partners and allies, come to grips with the malign Iranian activity in the region? What should be done to counter that?”

    Petraeus said Trump and Congress could formulate a “statement of national policy that Iran will never be allowed to enrich uranium to weapons grade.”

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