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Defense One: Overcoming the Gulf in the Gulf

Authors: Colin H. Kahl, and Jacob Stokes
October 31, 2013


"The diplomatic deals the United States is pursuing to constrain Iran's nuclear program and destroy Syria's chemical weapons are not at odds with Gulf security. On the contrary, they are essential to prevent regimes hostile to Gulf interests from possessing the world's most dangerous weapons."

The gap between America's Middle East policy and that of its closest Persian Gulf partners has widened into a chasm. Although policy divergence and private criticism of U.S. policy in the Gulf is nothing new, these differences and disagreements have burst into the public eye in recent days. Most notably, Saudi Arabia's public refusal to take a rotating seat on the United Nations Security Council -- a position the kingdom had long lobbied and prepared for -- and the suggestion by a top Saudi official that Riyadh will embark on a "major shift" in its security partnership with the United States have shocked many observers in Washington and beyond.

Gulf partners' exasperation has grown in parallel with both the number and importance of policy differences with Washington on a range of issues, including the Obama administration's approach toward the Israeli-Palestinian issue and the recent decision to scale-back American aid for Egypt's military. But, more than anything else, two primary concerns drive Gulf anxieties.

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