Oman's deputy prime minister, Fahd bin Mahmoud al-Said, President Barack Obama, Saudi Arabia's King Salman, Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa at the GCC Summit, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, April 21, 2016 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).
The readout from President Barack Obama’s trip last week to the Gulf reflects the ongoing strains in U.S. relations with the Gulf monarchs. Both sides share responsibility for the current state of affairs. And it will take time to shift perceptions in the region so that the ongoing cooperation that is taking place is viewed more positively. It is also worth considering the possibility that the growing independence of the Gulf Arab states and the redistribution of power in their relationship with Washington will have a long-term benefit that’s just hard to see right now. The coverage of Obama’s trip [...]
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On Jan. 1, 2016, Saudi Arabia executed Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent Shiite cleric, stoking outrage in the region and beyond. His death, and the backlash that followed, highlighted long-simmering tensions both within Saudi Arabia and between Riyadh and Tehran. News of al-Nimr’s death triggered virulent protests in Iran, with demonstrators setting ablaze the Saudi Embassy in Tehran; Saudi Arabia subsequently severed diplomatic relations with Iran. The response illustrated how Saudi Arabia’s troubled relationship with its Shiite minority could rapidly inflame intercommunal and international relations in the Persian Gulf. Historically, Saudi Arabia’s Shiite communities were concentrated in what is today the [...]
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