Foreign Policy magazine has published an article whose author believes that if President Joe Biden’s administration is to obtain the approval of Washington’s Gulf partners regarding a new nuclear deal with Iran, put in place an effective strategy to protect them and find ways to ensure their contribution to it.
Bilal Saab, director of the Defense and Security Program at the Middle East Institute, believes in his article in the magazine that there is a consensus that Washington’s regional partners – and specifically most of the Arab Gulf states and Israel – hate the nuclear deal that former President Barack Obama’s administration concluded in 2015 with Iran, for good reason. It is his failure to address their regional security concerns, which go beyond Iran’s capabilities in the field of nuclear enrichment.
He attributed this to Obama’s advisors not seeing that a comprehensive agreement was possible due to their concern that if they were exposed to Tehran’s missile arsenal and its network of regional proxies in the nuclear talks, Iran might withdraw from the negotiations.
He said that after signing the limited nuclear agreement with Iran, Obama tried to reduce the harm he was inflicting on the United States’ Arab partners in the Gulf by holding two summits with those countries, one at Camp David in 2015 and the second in Riyadh in 2016, to discuss ways to strengthen its relations with the United States. In the areas of defense and security.
Saab said that the Biden administration, many of whose members have worked with Obama on Middle East issues, specifically in relation to the Iranian nuclear issue, will soon present its own ideas on ways to renew those discussions, perhaps with some amendments to the previous formula.
The Biden administration may also try to take a more comprehensive approach by pushing toward a regional security dialogue, in parallel with potential nuclear talks. Such a dialogue would set new standards of behavior, trigger confidence-building measures, and reduce political tension in the region.
And the writer expected that this proposal would be welcomed by most of the powers in the Middle East in general.
According to the article, new ideas on the nuclear deal with Iran are unlikely to succeed unless there is deeper trust between the United States and its regional partners.
The main reason behind the failure of the Camp David and Riyadh summits, according to the author, is that the Arab Gulf states have lost confidence in Washington’s willingness to stand by them when facing risks.
Saab said that some Arab countries in the Gulf chose not to disclose their deep concerns about the failure of US deterrence in order to avoid falling into a political crisis with former President Donald Trump and thus give the Iranians another victory. But the Biden foreign policy team and Gulf Arab leaders will have plenty of opportunities to consult on how to meet the Iranian challenge in its entirety.