The Future of US and GCC Relations: Break-up, Re-engagement or Partnership?

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It is no secret that before the meeting at Camp David both Washington and the Gulf states had important expectations from each other. For the GCC leaders, it was important to get assurance on two issues. These states first and foremost wanted to attain a real security guarantee from the US in relation to the possibility of any external conventional attacks as well as about the continuing regional proxy wars that are being waged by Iran in places like Syria, Iraq and Yemen. In Washington there remained two concerns. Firstly, about gaining the confidence of the GGC states concerning the continuing Iranian nuclear deal and secondly, obtaining the support of the Emirates for US policies in the Middle East. Assessments by the IR community on the fate of US-American relations post the May 2015 Camp David Summit have been numerous. Those who have considered the Camp David Summit results as either a success or failure have based their evaluations the current problematic security issues associated with the US extended deterrence mechanism previously guaranteed.  Under the current status of the Iranian nuclear program, the GCC countries have developed certain security concerns over the fate of the ongoing negotiations between P5+1 and Tehran.  In order to understand the current debates concerning future relations between the GCC and America, this paper will analyse the question as to what extent Washington has succeeded in relieving the Gulf States’ security concerns in relation to the possibility of a nuclear deal with Iran.


The repercussions from the Arab Spring and the lack of a comprehensive regional security framework for the past 5 years in the Middle East have either given way to counter-revolutions or state failure. The security vacuum in the Middle East was soon filled by numerous transnational non-state actors like ISIS and simultaneously leading to a proliferation of weapons. Amongst these volatile conditions experts have proclaimed that the Iranian nuclear program has reached a three month break-out capacity. And hence, the security concerns of the GCC states were not heeled down both after the signature of the 2014 Geneva Interim agreement and/or the newly concluded framework agreement between P5+1 and Tehran in Lausanne. That is why; both Washington and the GCC leaders decided to meet at the Camp David Summit in May 2015 with the aim of finding reassuring answers to the Gulf States’ security concerns about Iran.


When Iran first commenced fissile material production in February 2007 at Natanz, by feeding the uranium hexafluoride (UF6) into its gas centrifuges for enrichment purposes, the GCC countries became threatened by the possibility Iran going nuclear. Since 2007, Iran has focused on enriching uranium at two levels: up to five percent of the isotope U-235 and 20 percent of the U-235. Strikingly, Iran had by 2010 succeeded in enriching uranium to 20 percent despite the enforced/implemented sanctions, raising concerns not only for the Gulf States but international community as well. Since 2010, the GCC states have started questioning the current and future status of the American Extended Deterrence in order to determine whether or not they have any viable alternative to the US security guarantee.



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