GCC leaders reassured by US on containment of Iran

18 May 2015

Summit fell short of comprehensive security accord

  • Build-up to the meeting at Camp David was less than positive
  • GCC nations have been seeking assurances over security from Washington
  • Talks fell short of a comprehensive security accord

Gulf leaders hoping for some comprehensive action from Washington to check Iranian power in the Middle East look to have been left disappointed after the US-GCC summit ended with little fanfare as the two sides re-enforced their existing positions.

The build-up to the meeting at Camp David was less than positive as it emerged that only two of the six GCC leaders would attend the meeting with US President Barack Obama. Saudi Arabia and the UAE were represented by their respective crown princes Mohammed bin Nayef al-Saud and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

GCC nations have been seeking assurances over security from Washington as it increases dialogue and cooperation with Iran over the nuclear agreement.

The talks fell short of a comprehensive security accord that the Gulf leaders are thought to be looking for, along with the procurement of cutting-edge weaponry.

Obama and the leaders of the delegations released a joint statement after the talks, detailing the agreed cooperation on several issues including the containment of Iranian power, tackling terrorist groups and their role in the conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya.

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, according to a joint statement issued on 15 May.

The most important outcome was perhaps the GCC states agreeing to back a comprehensive nuclear deal between world powers and Iran, which could see the Islamic republic re-emerge as a strong economic power in the region.

“[The leaders] reviewed the status of negotiations between the P5+1 group of countries and Iran, and emphasised that a comprehensive, verifiable deal that fully addresses the regional and international concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme is in the security interests of GCC member states as well as the US and the international community,” the two sides announced in the statement.

The US and GCC representatives also agreed to work together to counter “Iran’s destabilising activities in the region”.

Saudi Arabia and other GCC members have voiced concerns over Iran’s influence on the Houthi rebels, which have taken control of major population centres in Yemen.

Tehran’s support of Bashar al-Assad’s government in the Syria civil war also puts Iran at odds with GCC governments.

“[The leaders] reaffirmed that Al-Assad has lost all legitimacy and has no role in Syria’s future. They strongly supported increased efforts to degrade and ultimately destroy [Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] in Syria and warned against the influence of other extremist groups, such as Al-Nusra,” read the joint statement.

The representatives pledged to further deepen US-GCC relations and agreed to meet again in a similar format in 2016.

Stay informed with the latest in the Middle East
Download the MEED app today, available on Apple and Android devices

A MEED Subscription...

Subscribe or upgrade your current MEED.com package to support your strategic planning with the MENA region’s best source of business information. Proceed to our online shop below to find out more about the features in each package.

Get Notifications