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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 21-May-2011
21-May-11 News -- Saudi Arabia advances Gulf Cooperation Council, further cuts U.S. ties

Web Log - May, 2011

21-May-11 News -- Saudi Arabia advances Gulf Cooperation Council, further cuts U.S. ties

The rise of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)

Saudi Arabia advances Gulf Cooperation Council, further cuts U.S. ties

A major realignment led by Saudi Arabia is in progress in the Mideast, triggered by the Arab uprisings and by anger in the Gulf states over President Obama's responses, especially with respect to Iran.

Saudi King Abdullah
Saudi King Abdullah

The incident that started the Saudis on the path to realignment was President Obama's humiliation of long-time ally Hosni Mubarak, calling for him to step down in the face of the student protests. This raised the fear the Obama would also call for Saudi King Abdullah to step down, and led to the conclusion that the U.S. could no longer be trusted. (See "11-Feb-11 News -- Egypt 'contagion' threatens stability of Saudi Arabia.")

The uprising in Bahrain resulted in further sharp disagreements. The Saudis sent 1,000 troops into Bahrain to take over non-combat roles, so that the Bahraini security forces would be freed up to combat the protesters. Obama said that he opposed this move by the Saudis, and in his speech on Thursday, Obama condemned the "repressive military action."

For the Saudis and the other Gulf nations, human rights for the Bahrain protesters is not the issue. What IS the issue is the concern that Iran is trying to destabilize the entire region, and that the Obama administration either does not care about this threat or is not concerned about it.

According to Nawaf Obaid, senior fellow at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, writing for the Washington Post earlier this week:

"A tectonic shift has occurred in the U.S.-Saudi relationship. Despite significant pressure from the Obama administration to remain on the sidelines, Saudi leaders sent troops into Manama in March to defend Bahrainís monarchy and quell the unrest that has shaken that country since February. For more than 60 years, Saudi Arabia has been bound by an unwritten bargain: oil for security. Riyadh has often protested but ultimately acquiesced to what it saw as misguided U.S. policies. But American missteps in the region since Sept. 11, an ill-conceived response to the Arab protest movements and an unconscionable refusal to hold Israel accountable for its illegal settlement building have brought this arrangement to an end. As the Saudis recalibrate the partnership, Riyadh intends to pursue a much more assertive foreign policy, at times conflicting with American interests. ...

Iranís efforts to destabilize its neighbors are tireless. As Riyadh fights a cold war with Tehran, Washington has shown itself in recent months to be an unwilling and unreliable partner against this threat. The emerging political reality is a Saudi-led Arab world facing off against the aggression of Iran and its non-state proxies.

Saudi Arabia will not allow the political unrest in the region to destabilize the Arab monarchies ó the Gulf states, Jordan and Morocco. In Yemen, the Saudis are insisting on an orderly transition of power and a dignified exit for President Ali Abdullah Saleh (a courtesy that was not extended to Hosni Mubarak, despite the former Egyptian presidentís many years as a strong U.S. ally). ... In Iraq, the Saudi government will continue to pursue a hard-line stance against the Maliki government, which it regards as little more than an Iranian puppet. In Lebanon, Saudi Arabia will act to check the growth of Hezbollah and to ensure that this Iranian proxy does not dominate the countryís political life. Regarding the widespread upheaval in Syria, the Saudis will work to ensure that any potential transition to a post-Assad era is as peaceful and as free of Iranian meddling as possible. ...

Saudi Arabia has the will and the means to meet its expanded global responsibilities. In some issues, such as counterterrorism and efforts to fight money laundering, the Saudis will continue to be a strong U.S. partner. In areas in which Saudi national security or strategic interests are at stake, the kingdom will pursue its own agenda. With Iran working tirelessly to dominate the region, the Muslim Brotherhood rising in Egypt and unrest on nearly every border, there is simply too much at stake for the kingdom to rely on a security policy written in Washington, which has backfired more often than not and spread instability. The special relationship may never be the same, but from this transformation a more stable and secure Middle East can be born."

The rise of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)

The above is all just talk, but there is solid action being taken as well to support the talk. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is an alliance of six Sunni Muslim states around the Persian Gulf.

There are two steps being taken to turn the GCC into a major military alliance not connected to the U.S.:

According to an analysis in the Debka subscriber-only newsletter, forwarded to me by a subscriber, the expanded GCC is meant to challenge and downgrade the Egyptian-dominated Arab League, with its post-Mubarak Egyptian influence. The GCC will have a Sunni Arab royalist alignment, and will challenge two emergent Muslim forces seeking Middle East domination:

Obama in a box

I've certainly blamed President Obama for a lot of things, but it's hard for me to see what he could have done differently to avoid this mess. After the uprising in Tunisia forced Tunisia's leader to step down, there was enormous domestic and international pressure to encourage Mubarak to step down in Egypt. As far as I can tell, Saudi's King Abdullah assumed that Obama would never turn his back on Mubarak, and was shocked when it happened, while Obama was apparently shocked to learn later how furious Abdullah was. However, even if Obama knew of Abdullah's feelings, the pressure would still have been enormous, and even today many young Egyptians are criticizing Obama for waiting as long as he did.

Another issue is President Obama's disastrous speech on Thursday, including his statement that an Israeli-Palestinian deal should start with the 1967 borders. Given Saudi Arabia's anger that the U.S. has not stopped Israel from building new settlements in the West Bank, it's possible that Obama's demands were an attempt to placate the Saudis, and possibly head off the GCC plan. If so, then it was a desperate attempt, and I doubt that it will have any effect.

On the other hand, the harsh scolding that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave to President Obama in the White House on Friday might have been planned in advance to give Obama cover in his relationships with the Saudis.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the Mideast is headed for a major war, as I've been saying for years. This war is coming with 100% certainty, and neither President Obama nor any other politician can either cause or prevent it. The only thing we don't know is the exact scenario that will lead to this war.

This "tectonic shift" in the Mideast is a fascinating development. Events are moving quickly, and we may soon have a better idea which Mideast nations will be fighting which other Mideast nations, when this war is finally launched.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-May-11 News -- Saudi Arabia advances Gulf Cooperation Council, further cuts U.S. ties thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-May-2011) Permanent Link
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