Persian Gulf leaders, set to convene at a Camp David summit this week, are pressing President Obama to strengthen the U.S. security relationship with the region and expand military assurances to address their growing concerns about Iran, U.S. and regional officials said.
Senior officials from several gulf nations said they understand that a mutual defense alliance, similar to NATO, is not possible. At the very least, however, they want a firmer and more specific U.S. promise to protect them from external threats.
“In the past we have survived with a gentlemen’s agreement with the United States about security,” said Yousef al-Otaiba, ambassador to Washington for the United Arab Emirates, one of the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries participating in the summit. “Today, we need something in writing. We need something institutionalized.”
Other officials were less specific. “I don’t have a problem with written or non-written,” Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, said Monday. “Our faith in America’s word is total.”