What is the outcome of the United States-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting held at Camp David, in the mountains of the Maryland State of USA, last Thursday ?
This question can be answered by simply quoting Obama himself, who said: “I am reaffirming our ‘iron clad commitment’ to the security of our Gulf partners.”
So, I believe that, first and foremost, the US-GCC partnership on security is not only strong and intact, but also growing stronger, and going further.
We all know that there were apprehensions about this meeting – where US President Obama, heads of delegations of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, the Secretary General of the GCC, and the members the President’s Cabinet had to sit together – for talks on various issues concerning GCC and US, in the region.
Some had said that this meet should have been avoided, to deliberately snub United States, which is planning a deal with Iran, that could give Iran, nuclear capability.
Some had said that it is, in fact, for this very reason that some heads of GCC member states – such as the rulers of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and UAE – have skipped the meeting.
But all these countries stated that the snub allegation was completely false; and that all rulers had genuine reasons, which prevented them from attending.
On the nuclear-deal with Iran, Obama administration argued that if the deal meets its June 30 deadline, it would prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon in the next 10 to 15 years, thereby, shielding the region – and the US – from a Tehran threat.
However, considering the upheavals we see in Iraq and Syria on one side, and in Yemen on the other side, will the geo-political situation remain the same during the next few years?
And what happens – if, only if, – for instance, after 15 years, if not earlier, Iran somehow becomes a nuclear power?
These are questions for which I doubt if anyone can give us clear answers.
But what is heartening is the Joint Statement issued by US and GCC Member States, immediately after the Camp David meeting.
The statement says: “The United States is prepared to work jointly with the GCC states to deter and confront an external threat to any GCC state’s territorial integrity that is inconsistent with the UN Charter”.
“In the event of such aggression or the threat of such aggression, the United States stands ready to work with our GCC partners to determine urgently what action may be appropriate, using the means at our collective disposal, including the potential use of military force, for the defence of our GCC partners”.
The understanding is that as with ‘Operation Decisive Storm’ ( the Saudi led coalition strikes on Yemen in March-April), GCC states will consult with US when planning to take military action beyond GCC borders, in particular when U.S. assistance is requested for such action.
Building on US-GCC Strategic Cooperation Forum, the leaders discussed “a new US-GCC strategic partnership to enhance their work to improve security cooperation, especially on fast-tracking arms transfers, as well as on counter-terrorism, maritime security, cyber security, and ballistic missile defence”.
Among other issues, the US-GCC statement affirmed the necessity of “resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of a just, lasting, comprehensive peace agreement that results in an independent and contiguous Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel”.
They also agreed on the enduring importance of the “2002 Arab Peace Initiative” and that they will fulfil aggressively their pledges made for Gaza’s reconstruction, in October 2014 Cairo Conference.
Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa , who represented Bahrain in the summit, said enhancing US- GCC co-operation further was a vital component of achieving long-term stability and prosperity in the region.
This meet, I believe, has given the GCC region, a much needed reassurance.