Atlantic Council Issues Report On U.S.-Gulf Relations
The Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East has issued a report titled “The United States and the Gulf States: Uncertain Partners in a Changing Region” examining the current state of relations between the U.S. and the Gulf countries and making recommendations for continued cooperation. In the report, Richard LeBaron argues that although there is “continued congruence of interests between the GCC states and the United States,” the democratic transitions occurring across the Middle East and regional security issues are straining their relationship. In order to strengthen their alliances, he says they must find “common denominators to sustain the partnership.” He notes a trust deficit between the U.S. and the Gulf states, differing perceptions of democratic transitions and economic support transitioning Arab states, the Iranian threat to the Gulf, and the changing military role of Gulf states in the region as particular points of friction in U.S.-Gulf relations.
LeBaron closes the report by making recommendations for decreasing conflict between the GCC states’ and the U.S. interests. He calls for the parties to reach consensus on responses to the economic needs of transitioning Arab states and agreement on the dangers of supporting violence and extremism. He urges governments on both sides to make the changes in the region a topic of “sustained discussion.” He also calls for a thorough examination of “what a durable, long-term security relationship will require,” taking into consideration a variety of regional security issues in addition to the Iranian threat to the Gulf states.