At the eleventh hour of the Iranian nuclear negotiations, the Obama Administration is suddenly facing severe difficulties managing America’s traditional allies, particularly the Sunni Arab nations, who are deeply worried about Iran’s recent regional gains. According to The Wall Street Journal, that may come to a head soon:
The leaders of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, plan to use a high-stakes meeting with President Barack Obama next week to request additional fighter jets, missile batteries and surveillance equipment.
They also intend to pressure Mr. Obama for new defense agreements between the U.S. and the Gulf nations that would outline terms and scenarios under which Washington would intervene if they are threatened by Iran, according to these officials.
Arab leaders generally have a low opinion of this administration’s bargaining skills (and believe that it is so desperate to get the deal with Iran that it will give away the store)—so expect some tough bargaining next week. And, of course, the Israelis will be watching—and demanding, with total justice and a great deal of political support in the U.S., that the Obama administration give Israel enough weapons and assorted goodies that the qualitative superiority of Israel over its neighbors won’t be threatened by the American largesse.
One can’t tell from outside the White House, but it really does seem as if the national security team was caught by surprise by the ways in which what they thought would be a nice, stabilizing nuclear arms deal is raising tensions, boosting arms races and generally destabilizing the Middle East.