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Monday, May 11, 2015

.......What Goes Around Comes Around.......

Gulf leaders back out of Camp David summit in 'snub' to Obama

Last week Russian President Putin held a great parade - and nobody came, well, no-one important.

This week US President Obama is holding a middle east summit of Islamic leaders and the most important leaders are staying away. Israel wasn't invited, of course, because....well you know why. President Obama is getting a taste of how President Putin felt.

President Obama met Saudi King Salman in Riyadh in January
From BBC US & Canada
Many Gulf heads of state have said they will not attend the summit of US and allied Arab leaders at Camp David later this week.

Their substitution with more junior leaders is being seen as a rebuff to President Obama's negotiations with Iran over its nuclear ambitions.

King Salman of Saudi Arabia announced on Sunday that he would not attend.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Saudi Arabia has not raised concerns about anything on the summit agenda.

The talks in Camp David near Washington were designed to reassure the Arab allies of US support on a number of issues including talks with Iran and instability in several Arab states.

They will now be largely attended by leaders at the ministerial level.

The official reason for the Saudi leader's absence is that the summit coincides with a humanitarian ceasefire in Yemen, where a Saudi-led alliance is battling Shia Houthi rebels.

An armed Yemeni tribesman sits on a tank
"I know there had been some speculation that this change in travel plans was an attempt to send a message to the United States," Mr Earnest said.

"If so, that message was not received, because all the feedback that we've received from the Saudis has been positive."

The White House later said that President Obama had spoken by phone to King Salman on Monday and they had discussed preparations for the Camp David summit.

At Saudi Arabia's embassy in Washington, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told reporters the move was not related to any disagreement.

But diplomatic experts say it is a clear signal of Saudi displeasure with the US president and his negotiations with Iran over its nuclear programme.

"I don't think they have a deep respect, a deep trust for Obama and his promises. There is a fundamental difference between his vision of post-nuclear-deal Iran and their vision," Abdulkhaleq Abdullah, a professor of political science at Emirates University told the Associated Press news agency.

"They think Iran is a destabilising force and will remain so, probably even more, if the sanctions are lifted."

This genuine fear of Iran and its regional ambitions leads to some very interesting dynamics with respect to Israel. Most of the Gulf States leaders are probably very grateful for Israel right now. Israel is the only country, other than the US, with the capability of seriously damaging Iran's nuclear facilities. Since the US has no desire to do so, and has allowed themselves to actually believe that Iran will live up to a negotiated agreement, Israel becomes the last resort. There may even be some clandestine co-operation between Israel and the Gulf states. Strange bedfellows make for interesting dynamics.

President Obama had planned to meet with the Saudi King Salman Wednesday
The BBC's security correspondent, Frank Gardner, said King Salman has never quite forgiven President Obama for cancelling the missile strikes on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at the 11th hour in September of 2013, when King Salman was defence minister.

Separately, the tiny island kingdom of Bahrain, whose leadership has close ties to the Saudis, said that it would be sending its crown prince, Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, to the meeting.

A source familiar with the talks told the BBC that the Sultan of Oman and the President of the United Arab Emirates are both known to be very ill, and do not travel for non-medical purposes - and were not expected to attend.

USS New Orleans arrives at Mina Salman pier March 2009
The US Navy's 5th Fleet is based in Bahrain, and serves as the US's main
maritime counterbalance to Iran
The Kuwaiti emir, Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, will attend the summit and has already arrived in the Washington area.

Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, is expected to attend as well.