Yesterday President Obama met with officials from six Gulf countries at a Camp David meeting in Maryland where he reaffirmed the partnership the United States has with the Arab leaders at a pivotal time in the Middle East when the Obama administration is taking a new line of rapprochement towards rival Iran, frustrating traditional allies Israel and Saudi Arabia, and nemesis terrorist group Islamic State has gained large swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq while attempting to overthrow throw regional leaders and install a caliphate.
Only two of the six invited counties sent their rulers to Camp David, including the emirs from Kuwait and Qatar.
Saudi King Salman announced earlier that he would skip the summit meeting so he could monitor a cease fire agreement in neighboring Yemen which has become a new flashpoint in the region as rival Iran stands accused by its Arab neighbors of supporting Shiite Houthis rebels who worked to overthrow Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu.
Following the meeting, the United States and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) released a joint statement that emphasizes the ongoing commitment from the United States to maintain the territorial integrity of the Gulf countries and confront any 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 defense of our GCC partners” the joint statement reads.
During the forum meeting, the leaders discussed a new U.S.-GCC strategic partnership to enhance security cooperation in the region, especially on fast-tracking arms transfers, as well as on counter-terrorism, maritime security, cybersecurity, and ballistic missile defense.
They also discussed Arab concerns about Iran’s nuclear program which has gained international attention and raised security interests.
President Obama told reporters that he would work with Gulf countries to oppose Iranian aggression in the region but would welcome a reformed Iran into the community of nations.
“None of our nations have an interest in an open-ended conflict with Iran” Obama said.
“The United States and GCC member states oppose and will work together to counter Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region and stressed the need for Iran to engage the region according to the principles of good neighborliness, strict non-interference in domestic affairs, and respect for territorial integrity, consistent with international law and the United Nations Charter, and for Iran to take concrete, practical steps to build trust and resolve its differences with neighbors by peaceful means” the statement reads.
The leaders agreed to coordinate counter terrorism efforts towards ISIL/DAESH and Al-Qaida, “to deter and disrupt terrorist attacks with a focus on protecting critical infrastructure, strengthening border and aviation security, combating money laundering and terrorist financing, interdicting foreign fighters, and countering violent extremism in all its forms.”
The leaders agreed to meet again in 2016 for another round of meetings.