• Obama’s Arab Summit is Falling Apart

    It’s story that’s not getting much media oxygen, but important just the same.

    Saudi King Salman and three other regional leaders announced Monday that they’ve decided not to attend President Obama’s “Arab Summit” at Camp David, which was scheduled for later this week.

    Of the total of six Middle Eastern heads of state that Obama invited, four have backed out, leaving the president all dressed up and nowhere to go:

    Here’s more from the Times of Israel:

    It is not just the Saudi king who will be skipping this week’s Camp David summit of US and allied Arab leaders. Most Gulf heads of state won’t be there.

    US President Barack Obama had invited six Gulf kings, emirs and sultans to the presidential retreat at Camp David, seeking to shore up wavering trust while Washington negotiates with regional power Tehran. Obama’s plans now lie in tatters, with only two heads of state slated to attend the Thursday meeting.

    The absences will put a damper on talks that are designed to reassure key Arab allies, and almost certainly reflect dissatisfaction among leaders of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council with Washington’s handling of Iran and what they expect to get out of the meeting.

    Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir announced late on Sunday that newly installed King Salman will not be attending. The ostensible reason was because the upcoming summit on Thursday coincides with a humanitarian ceasefire in the conflict in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is fighting Shiite rebels known as Houthis.

    Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who is also interior minister, will lead the Saudi delegation and the king’s son, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is defense minister, will also attend.

    Obama had planned to meet King Salman one-on-one a day before the gathering of leaders at the presidential retreat. The king, who took power in January after his brother King Abdullah died, has not traveled abroad since his ascension to the throne.

    The tiny island kingdom of Bahrain said separately that its delegation would be headed by the country’s crown prince, Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa.

    Bahrain, whose leadership has close ties to the Saudis, is an important military ally of the US. It is the longstanding host to the Navy’s 5th Fleet, which is responsible for operations around the Arabian Peninsula and northern Indian Ocean, and is Washington’s main naval counterbalance to Iran.

    With tensions around the world, and especially in the Middle East, as high as they are it’s a bit remarkable that a meeting like this is on the verge of not happening at all. This news has a lot of people wondering why so many Arab leaders are deciding to give Obama their butt to kiss. The short answer is, they don’t trust the president.

    “I don’t think they have a deep respect, a deep trust for Obama and his promises,” Emirates University professor of political science Abdulkhaleq Abdullah said according to Fox News. “There is a fundamental difference between his vision of post-nuclear-deal Iran and their vision. They think Iran is a destabilizing force and will remain so, probably even more, if the sanctions are lifted. … They’re just not seeing things eye to eye.”

    Obama is treating highly intense security issues in a region full of terrorism with kid gloves. And that just won’t cut it with many Middle Eastern leaders.

    “I think we are looking for some form of security guarantee, given the behavior of Iran in the region, given the rise of the extremist threat,” said United Arab Emirates ambassador to the United States. “In the past, we have survived with a gentleman’s agreement with the United States about security. I think today, we need something in writing. We need something institutionalized.”

    Obama has fundamentally transformed America’s global image. And it’s not a pretty picture.

    Jerome Hudson

    Managing Editor

    Jerome Hudson has written for numerous national outlets, including The Hill, National Review, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was recognized as one of Florida’s emerging stars, having been included in the list “25 Under 30: Florida’s Rising Young Political Class.” Hudson is a Savannah, Ga. native who currently resides in Florida.

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