For the past 70 years, the United States has maintained a core National Security interest in the security and stability of the Middle East and the Gulf region. The United States shares with our Gulf country partners a deep interest in a region that is peaceful and prosperous.
It is in that spirit that this week President Obama convened the leadership of our Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) partners -- Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Bahrain -- to Camp David to reaffirm and deepen the strong partnership and cooperation between the United States and the GCC. President Obama said, "Since I took office, we’ve intensified our security cooperation with our Gulf Cooperation Council partners. At a time of extraordinary challenges across the Middle East -- including conflicts that have caused untold human suffering -- the United States and our GCC partners cooperate extensively, countering terrorist groups like al Qaeda, and now ISIL; opposing the Assad regime’s war against the Syrian people; supporting the legitimate government of Yemen; and opposing Iran’s destabilizing actions across the Middle East."
After meetings with GCC country leaders, President Obama said, "I am reaffirming our ironclad commitment to the security of our Gulf partners. As we’ve declared in our joint statement, the United States is prepared to work jointly with GCC member states to deter and confront an external threat to any GCC state’s territorial integrity that is inconsistent with the U.N. Charter. In the event of such aggression, or the threat of such aggression, the United States stands ready to work with our GCC partners to urgently determine what actions may be appropriate, using the means at our collective disposal, including the potential use of military force, for the defense of our GCC partners."
President Obama thanked all of the leaders who attended, "We approached our discussions in a spirit of mutual respect. We agree that the security relationship between the United States and our GCC partners will remain a cornerstone of regional stability and our relationship is a two-way street -- we all have responsibilities." At Camp David, the leaders underscored their mutual commitment to a U.S.-GCC strategic partnership to build closer relations in all fields, including defense and security cooperation, and develop collective approaches to regional issues in order to advance their shared interest in stability and prosperity. They also decided to expand their partnership with the United States in several important and concrete ways.
The leaders discussed a new U.S.-GCC strategic partnership to enhance their work to improve security cooperation, especially on fast-tracking arms transfers, as well as on counter-terrorism, maritime security, cybersecurity, and ballistic missile defense.
The leaders also discussed how best to address regional conflicts and defuse growing tensions. In this context, the leaders discussed the most pressing conflicts in the region, including Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya, and what could be done to advance their resolution. President Obama said, "We pledged to work together to try to resolve armed conflicts in the region, and we have articulated core principles to guide our efforts: Respect for state sovereignty; recognition that these conflicts can only be resolved politically; and acknowledgment of the importance of inclusive governance and the need to respect minorities and protect human rights."
He continued, "With respect to Syria, we committed to continuing to strengthen the moderate opposition, to oppose all violent extremist groups, and to intensify our efforts to achieve a negotiated political transition toward an inclusive government -- without Bashar Assad -- that serves all Syrians. We will continue to support the Iraqi government in its efforts against ISIL, and in reforms to ensure that the rights and opportunities of all Iraqis are fully respected. We welcomed the humanitarian truce in Yemen, so urgently needed aid can reach civilians, and we call on all parties in Yemen to return to political talks facilitated by the United Nations. We will step up our collective efforts to help form a national unity government in Libya, and counter the growing terrorist presence there. And we reiterate the urgent need for a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians."
The leaders also spent considerable time discussing Iran. President Obama updated our Gulf partners on the negotiations towards a comprehensive deal to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon noting "I’m pleased that here at Camp David we agree that a comprehensive, verifiable solution that fully addresses the regional and international concerns about Iran’s nuclear program is in the security interests of the international community -- including our GCC partners."
On Iran, President Obama underscored, "I want to be very clear. The purpose of security cooperation is not to perpetuate any long-term confrontation with Iran or even to marginalize Iran. None of our nations have an interest in an open-ended conflict with Iran. We welcome an Iran that plays a responsible role in the region -- one that takes concrete, practical steps to build trust and resolve its differences with its neighbors by peaceful means, and abides by international rules and norms.'
In a joint statement released after the meeting, the United States and GCC member states, made clear that they oppose and will work together to counter Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region and stressed the need for Iran to engage the region according to the principles of good neighborliness, strict non-interference in domestic affairs, and respect for territorial integrity, consistent with international law and the United Nations Charter, and for Iran to take concrete, practical steps to build trust and resolve its differences with neighbors by peaceful means.
President Obama concluded, "While this summit was focused on security cooperation, events in the Middle East since the beginning of the Arab Spring are a reminder that true and lasting security includes governance that serves all citizens and respects universal human rights. So, in the Middle East, as we do around the world, the United States will continue to speak out on behalf of inclusive governance, representative institutions, strong civil societies and human rights, and we will work to expand the educational and economic opportunities that allow people -- especially young people -- to fulfill their potential."
Following the meetings at Camp David, the leaders pledged to further deepen U.S.-GCC relations on these and other issues in order to build an even stronger, enduring, and comprehensive strategic partnership aimed at enhancing regional stability and prosperity. They agreed to meet again in a similar high level format in 2016, in order to advance and build upon the US-GCC Strategic Partnership announced today.
For more information: