Rulers Snub Obama's Arab Summit, Clouding U.S. Bid for Iran Deal
Saudi Arabia's King Salman,
who met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Riyadh, on Thursday,
has delegated Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef to lead the Saudi
delegation to the Gulf summit at Camp David.
Andrew Harnik/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Jay Solomon and
Carol E. Lee in Washington and
Ahmed Al Omran in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Saudi monarch’s decision signals that the Arab states aren’t on board with nuclear accord
WASHINGTON—Saudi Arabia’s monarch pulled out of a summit to be hosted by President Barack Obama on Thursday, in a blow to the White House’s efforts to build Arab support for a nuclear accord with Iran.
King Salman’s decision appeared to ripple across the Persian Gulf. Bahrain said on Sunday that its ruler, King Hamad bin Isaa Al Khalifa, had opted not to travel to Washington.
only two monarchs from the six countries confirmed to attend the summit
at the White House and the presidential retreat at Camp David, Md.,
were the emirs of Qatar and Kuwait.
At stake for the White House
is Mr. Obama’s key foreign-policy initiative, an Iran pact that is
proceeding toward a June 30 deadline without support from regional
powers. King Salman’s decision signals that the Arab states aren’t on
board and could continue to act on their own to thwart Tehran, as Saudi Arabia has done in leading a military coalition against Iran-backed rebels in Yemen.
Arab officials involved in organizing the meeting said not enough
progress had been made in narrowing differences with Washington on
issues like Iran and Syria to make the Saudi ruler’s trip worth it.
“There isn’t substance for the summit,” said an Arab official who has
held discussions with the Obama administration in recent days.
U.S. officials said as recently as Friday that they expected King
Salman, who took power in January, to travel to Washington.
Obama administration planned the summit as a way to build Arab support
for the Iran nuclear deal by giving more arms and security guarantees to
members of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council—Saudi Arabia, the
United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman.
House on Sunday sought to play down any rift with Riyadh or the other
GCC countries, stressing Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and his deputy
would be at the meetings.
“We look forward to the attendance of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, with whom the president has met on several occasions, including in the Oval Office in December 2014 and January 2013,” said Bernadette Meehan, spokeswoman for the National Security Council.
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, said King Salman was staying in Riyadh to focus on the Yemen cease-fire and humanitarian aid effort.
Al-Jubeir reiterated King Salman’s commitment to achieving peace and
security in Yemen and his eagerness to the speedy delivery of
humanitarian aid to the brotherly people of Yemen,” Saudi Arabia’s
foreign ministry said.
The Obama administration has cited the GCC
summit as crucial for building regional support for the U.S.’s Middle
East policies, particularly its diplomatic engagement with Iran.
Arabia has been sharply critical of the White House’s efforts to curb
Tehran’s nuclear capacity in exchange for the lifting of international
Riyadh has also pressed the U.S. to take more-aggressive steps to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Iran’s closest Arab ally, and to push back the Tehran-supported insurgency in Yemen.
Secretary of State John Kerry
met with King Salman on Thursday in Riyadh to discuss the Camp David
agenda, U.S. officials said. He then met with the GCC’s foreign
ministers in Paris, where he offered to give the GCC countries non-NATO
major-ally status, said a senior U.S. official. But the Arab diplomats
showed “very, very tepid interest,” the official added.
something we’re prepared to consider, and we had raised it with them,”
the U.S. official said. “But they seemed to think it was not that
critical or even important a step.”
Last Monday, French President François Hollande
met in Riyadh with King Salman and other Gulf Arab leaders to discuss
regional security matters. Within the international bloc of countries
negotiating with Iran, France has emerged as the most critical of the
Saudi officials told Mr. Kerry on Friday that King
Salman would attend the Camp David summit, U.S. officials said, and that
the overall message in Paris was positive.
The White House said that day that the Saudi monarch would meet President Obama on Wednesday ahead of the dinner.
“We have heard nothing negative about what we are trying to do,” the U.S. official said on Sunday.
Paris, Messrs. Kerry and al-Jubeir agreed on a plan to forge a
cease-fire in Yemen and to promote a political transition in the Arab
The Obama administration also pushed for better
integrating the U.S.’s and GCC countries’ missile defense systems as a
way to contain Iran.
“Whoever comes will be empowered to speak
in the name of their government and will sign onto whatever is agreed
to at Camp David,” the administration official said. “So the dynamics
may change based on who’s there and there will have to be maybe some
Some Arab officials said they didn’t believe the agenda at Camp David would go far enough to address their concerns about Iran.
of the Arab states said they were hoping the GCC could sign a mutual
defense treaty with Washington, similar to South Korea’s and Japan’s.
Such treaties would bind the U.S. to defend the Persian Gulf states if they faced Iranian aggression.
White House, however, didn’t believe it could win congressional
approval to back such a treaty, said U.S. and Arab officials involved in
Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E. and Qatar also are
seeking more-advanced weaponry to counter Iran, including surveillance
equipment, cruise missiles and drones.
These countries also have expressed interest in buying the Pentagon’s more-advanced jet fighter, the F-35.
of such military gear are complicated by the U.S.’s strategic alliance
with Israel, these officials said. Congressional legislation mandates
the Jewish state must maintain a “qualitative military edge” over its
neighbors, including Saudi Arabia.
Two people briefed on the
presummit negotiations said the Saudis ultimately decided the agenda
wasn’t substantive enough to require the attendance of 79-year-old King
The Sultanate of Oman, which hosted secret negotiations
between the U.S. and Iran in 2012 and 2013, said its deputy prime
minister, Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmoud al-Said, would lead his country’s
delegation. The country’s ruler returned home in March to Muscat from
Germany, where he had received months of receiving treatment for an
The U.A.E. is sending a delegation led by Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. [source]
I'm a proud American more concerned with the truth than I am gaining friends.
I find that those who've never lived anywhere beyond where they were raised are more convinced about what others think and feel in life. It can be the poor uneducated wretch who can't stand those who don't look or sound like him, or the smug self-righteous fool who is convinced that Americans are racist xenophobes.
Generalities are easy for those who've never challenged themselves.
Just because you write a check to Greenpeace, the ACLU, or your favorite liberal cause doesn't excuse the way you sneer and hate on Christian fundamentalists who are trying to help others the best way they know.
How you made your money matters as much as how you ended up in jail. You're no more righteous for lying to clients and customers as you amassed your funds than the thief who robs you in the night.
I admire the person who makes a living from doing instead of selling. I've done both in life and I know the feeling you're left with at the end of the day. Just because you're a smooth talker and have mastered the art of sounding sincere doesn't impress me.