Gulf Cooperation Council

  • 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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  • Pavel Quoted by Defense News on President Obama's Gulf Cooperation Council Summit


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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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  • Institutionalizing Ties and Rebuilding Relations

    As President Barack Obama heads to the region one last time, US-Gulf relations are at their lowest point in the past three decades. Relations have come under significant strain since 2011, driven by a general dissatisfaction among ruling elites in the Gulf with the administration’s approach to regional affairs. A variety of factors have contributed to the erosion of ties of trust built up over decades as US motivations and objectives are openly questioned. Privately, ruling elites in the Gulf have taken the so-called ‘pivot to Asia’ to imply tacit US abandonment of their interests, while US outreach to Iran merely reinforced such perceptions. An in-depth March 2016 profile of the ‘Obama Doctrine’ in The Atlantic magazine elicited a furious response among the Gulf states at the President’s disparaging reference to ‘free-riders,’ which many felt was aimed primarily at them.
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  • In Year of Summits, Weighing the Benefits and Challenges of NATO-GCC Cooperation

    The passports of high-ranking NATO and GCC officials seem to tell a tale of impending dialogue in the coming days. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg's recent flights to Kuwait, the UAE, and Washington, and Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary General Abdul Latif Bin Rashid Al-Zayani's visit to Brussels presage talk of the GCC working with NATO next week in Riyadh and at NATO’s Warsaw Summit in July. Whether or not the discussion of NATO-GCC cooperation persists from Spring into Summer will be largely dependent on the United States’ ability to persuade its Gulf partners that multilateral engagement with NATO is a mutually beneficial and worthwhile pursuit.
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  • President Obama and GCC Leaders: Let’s Talk about Jobs

    When President Barack Obama meets his Gulf Cooperation counterparts in Riyadh on April 21, he will yet again reassure them about the US commitment to Gulf security and once again they will work through a litany of regional issues, focusing on Syria, Yemen, and Iran.  There is little expectation of startling results, and given the fraught relationship between this Administration and Gulf leaders, the fact of the meeting may serve as the most tangible result.
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  • The United States Has No Gulf Allies

    The word “ally” is used far too casually in Washington’s Middle East lexicon. It’s time to break this bad habit, because the truth is that with the exception of Turkey—a NATO member—the United States does not share a single alliance with any Middle Eastern country. As the US-GCC summit in Riyadh approaches, understanding what really constitutes an alliance couldn’t be more important.
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  • Working in Tandem on Syria

    From the beginning of the Syrian crisis Washington and key GCC players have approached the problem with fundamentally differing priorities inspired by one key player: Iran. For Riyadh in particular, the salient feature of Syria’s agony and destruction has been Tehran’s aggressive, aggrandizing reach into the Arab world. For Washington, reaching a nuclear agreement with Iran trumped Tehran’s regional hegemony and muted its reaction to the murderous criminal excesses of the Bashar al-Assad regime. If nothing else the presence of ISIS (ISIL, Islamic State, Daesh) in Syria and the Assad regime’s role in sustaining it ought to get the United States and the GCC’s leading players on the same page in Syria.
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