GCC reassured by Obama’s ‘ironclad’ pledge

Obama had sought to reassure the majority Gulf countries wary at Washington's leading role in Iran's nuclear negotiations

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GCC nations were given reassurances that the U.S. would remain steadfast in its support for them despite rapprochement with Iran said Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg assistant secretary general for the Gulf Cooperation Council at the conclusion of the Camp David summit.

“We’re very happy the outcome of the results disappointed pundits, and exceeded beyond most expectations,” added Aluwaisheg.

The Camp David summit brought together the leaders and delegations of the six GCC states and U.S. President Obama at the presidential retreat in the U.S. state of Maryland.

Obama had “renewed the U.S. commitment to the region, to the Gulf states” according to Aluwaisheg.

The U.S. has pledged to bolster its security cooperation with the Gulf in various fields including counterterrorism, cybersecurity and a ballistic missile defense system.

“The security of the GCC states is vital to the interests of the United States,” Aluwaisheg said.

The Arab diplomat added that “the US is ready now to go even a little bit further,” and that already strong ties had been raised to the level of “strategic relationship.”

Obama had told reporters at the summit that U.S. commitments to its Gulf allies was “ironclad.”

In a communique delivered at the end of the summit, the U.S. and Gulf nations condemned Iran’s subversive activities across the region.

Gulf nations are concerned that if a nuclear deal is signed with Iran by the end of June, it would strengthen Iran’s destabilizing activities in Syria through its backing for Syrian President Assad and its support of Houthi militias in Yemen who have forced Yemen’s elected president to flee to Saudi Arabia.

Gulf states worry that if Iran gains international sanctions relief, an influx of cash would further embolden Tehran’s aggressive actions in the region.

Gulf leaders are also concerned that a deal with Iran with lead to further U.S. rapprochement despite the countries not having formal ties for over three decades.

However, Obama has allayed those worries during the summit, Aluwaisheg said.

“The deal is about the nuclear program, that’s really what the deal is about. There’s no grand bargain,” he said.

“There is no abandoning of the GCC, there is no pivot to Iran.”

And he added that “if Iran moderates its behavior... then we all will pivot to Iran, but it’s in the hands of the Iranian regime.”

Following Obama’s remarks, the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, said that his country and other GCC states hope that the Iran agreement would be a stabilizing factor in the region.

Sheikh Tamim also said that the talks were fruitful and candid in all regional issues.

“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 added.

(With AFP, Reuters and AP)