US President Barack Obama
has reaffirmed support for Washington’s Arab allies, saying Washington will use every element of its power to ensure the security of its interests and partners in the Persian Gulf region.
In a statement after the annual [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh on Thursday.
Obama said he reiterated Washington’s policy “to use all elements of our power to secure our core interests in the [Persian] Gulf region and to deter and confront external aggression against our allies and our partners.”
Obama added that all the six monarchies attending the summit—Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates—were committed to the fight against the Daesh (ISIL) Takfiri group and agreed on working towards de-escalating regional conflicts.
“We remain united in our fight to destroy ISIL, or Daesh, which is a threat to all of us,” the president said. “The United States
will help our GCC partners ensure that their special operations forces are inter-operable and GCC nations will continue to increase their contributions to the fight against ISIL and the coalition that [we] formed.”
US President Barack Obama (R) speaks with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (L), Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, during the US-Gulf Cooperation Council Summit in Riyadh, on April 21, 2016. (AFP photo)
Obama admitted, however, that conflicts of opinion do exist between the allies, even as they have all taken part in the ongoing Saudi-led Yemen war that has killed nearly 9,400 people, including 4,000 women and children since it began more than a year ago..
The landmark nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries—the US, Britain, China, Russia, France and Germany—has been a known source of disagreement between the US and some of its Arab allies ever since it went into effect in January.
In the Thursday summit, Obama tried to convince the Persian Gulf countries that the deal would not have happened without their support and said the accord was not “a sign of weakness.”
Before the summit, Obama met with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on Wednesday, kicking off a trip aimed to mend increasingly strained ties with the long-time Middle Eastern ally.
In a lengthy interview with the Atlantic Magazine published in March, Obama had described Saudi Arabia as a “free rider” on American foreign policy
and said the Saudis must learn to “share the neighborhood” with Iran.
US President Barack Obama (C) speaks with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia (R) at Erga Palace in Riyadh on April 20, 2016. (AFP photo)
The meeting also came against the backdrop of a growing fight in Washington over whether to publicly release documents that may implicate Riyadh in the planning of the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York.
Riyadh has threatened to sell off $750 billion in US assets if Congress passes a bill that would allow American citizens to sue the Saudi government for any role it may have had in the attacks that killed 3,000 people.