Discussions with Arabs

Gerald Seib, writing in The Wall Street Journal earlier in the week, had some thoughts about President Barack Obama and the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, an association of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates who are just across the Arabian Gulf from Iran. Seib anticipates that Obama will invite the six to Camp David to discuss Obama’s Iranian nuclear weapons deal.

Senior American officials have made clear that this is a conversation they now want to have to reassure the Gulf states, particularly the giant among them, Saudi Arabia.

No. This is a conversation Obama and his should have wanted to have—should have had—before beginning their foolishness with Iran and that they should have been having throughout those…negotiations.

Seib recognized the problem, if not the timing of its response.

The underlying question, of course, is whether the Gulf states now trust the US enough to embrace security guarantees or pledges of new defense cooperation. The answer is crucially important if the US is to convince the Gulf’s Sunni leaders that it isn’t tilting toward Shiite Iran. It’s also important to prevent a different and more ominous kind of reaction: a move by the Saudis to instead acquire their own nuclear weapon, by dialing up their friends in Pakistan to place an order, because they aren’t convinced Iran’s nuclear program will be stopped.

It’s too late, now. The damage is done, and we’ll be years repairing it. Hopefully Israel will still be alive.

Hopefully, the Gulf Cooperation Council will still be interested in our input for dealing with a nuclear armed Iran.

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