As Iran and the United States inch closer to a nuclear agreement, the Arab states in the Persian Gulf are pressuring the United States to increase security assistance and commit to their political security. President Obama has invited the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to Washington for a security summit to assure them that a nuclear deal with Iran will not undermine their security. But for these Arab monarchies the enemy they should fear most isn’t Iran but their own people and popular rule. No matter how much military assistance they get from the United States, conventional military capabilities will not help them repress domestic discontent and dissatisfaction. As President Obama elaborated in his interview with Tom Friedman of the New York Times: “The conversations I want to have with the Gulf countries is, first and foremost, how do they build more effective defense capabilities,” the president said. “I think when you look at what happens in Syria, for example, there’s been a great desire for the United States to get in there and do something. But the question is: Why is it that we can’t have Arabs fighting [against] the terrible human rights abuses that have been perpetrated, or fighting against what Assad has done? I also think that I can send a message to them about the U.S.’s commitments to work with them and ensure that they are not invaded from the outside, and that perhaps will ease some of their concerns and allow them to have a more fruitful conversation with the Iranians. What I can’t do, though, is commit to dealing with some of these internal issues that they have without them making some changes that are more responsive to their people.”……One way to think about it, Obama continued, “is [that] when it comes to external aggression, I think we’re going to be there for our [Arab] friends — and I want to see how we can formalize that a little bit more than we currently have, and also help build their capacity so that they feel more confident about their ability to protect themselves from external aggression.” But, he repeated, “The biggest threats that they face may not be coming from Iran invading. It’s going to be from dissatisfaction inside their own countries. Now disentangling that from real terrorist activity inside their country, how we sort that out, how we engage in the counterterrorism cooperation that’s been so important to our own security — without automatically legitimizing or validating whatever repressive tactics they may employ — I think that’s a tough conversation to have, but it’s one that we have to have.”
By Roger Shanahan, The Australian, May 9, 2015
“”In one Middle Eastern country, the practice of any religion other than Islam is banned, women are not allowed to drive, the screening of films is forbidden, there are no elections and last year 87 people were publicly beheaded.
In the other, religious minorities have seats reserved in parliament, and churches, synagogues and Zoroastrian temples to pray in, there are three female vice-presidents in the government, the country’s film directors have a worldwide reputation and one of its films won an Oscar in 2012, parliamentary and presidential elections take place, and the state does not behead people.
Yet the former country is a close ally of the West while in the past the latter has been labelled part of the “axis of evil” by the US.” Read the Full Article Here.
A primetime speech by President Obama about U.S. intention to fight against ISIS “appears to have had the opposite effect in the Middle East.” According to Al-Monitor, “countries and factions that on paper share the same goal of eradicating the extremist threat responded far differently to President Barack Obama’s strategy, highlighting the difficulty in creating a united front. Frontline states Iran and Syria lambasted the administration for leaving them out of the equation, while pro-Western rebels urged the United States to ramp up its fight against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria and Kurdish groups demanded a far greater US and Western commitment.”
Amazing pictures of Nelson Mandela meeting with Middle Eastern leaders. A true and devoted peacemaker.