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A Bad Idea: America Concluding a Defense Pact with the GCC

May 13, 2015 in Economics

By Emma Ashford

Emma Ashford

This week, President Obama will play host to leaders from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, first at the White House, and later at Camp David. The meetings are intended to soothe Arab leaders worried about the ongoing U.S.-Iranian nuclear negotiations. But President Obama must reject GCC demands for a formal or informal defense pact with the United States, which would tie American security ever more closely to countries whose interests and values do not align with our own.

Though a successful nuclear deal with Iran should in theory reduce tensions in the Middle East, the Gulf States are concerned about future Iranian growth. Nuclear-related sanctions have indeed cost the country as much as $4 to $8 billion a month in lost oil revenues. Regaining this income, in addition to other sanctions related benefits, will increase Iran’s power and ability to act in the Middle East.

As a result, GCC leaders are pushing the idea of a stronger military alliance with the United States. And though it remains unclear what possible deals the Obama administration is considering, the possible outcomes are wide-ranging, from minimal increases in arms sales or intelligence sharing to a formal mutual defense treaty.

Most likely is the possibility that President Obama will offer a less formal, verbal commitment to safeguard the security of the GCC states. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking in Paris last week, noted that “we are fleshing out a series of new commitments that will create, between the United States and the GCC, a new security understanding, a new set of security initiatives that will take us beyond anything that we have had before.”

Yet whether formal or informal, a defense pact with the GCC states would be a big mistake. For one thing, the interests of these states often don’t align with those of the United States. In Syria, for example, GCC states continue to focus their efforts on the overthrow of the Assad regime, not on ISIS. And in Yemen, the Saudi-led conflict has caused massive humanitarian costs and allowed Al Qaeda to make gains, undercutting U.S. counterterrorism goals.

These are just two examples of an overall pattern: the United States has a strong interest in stability in the Middle East, yet the Gulf States are themselves the frequent cause of unrest in the region. The actions of states like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar since the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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