Sunni Gulf states are seeking security assurances and weapons from the United States in return for their support of any future deal made with Iran over its nuclear program, increasing instability in a region that is already combustible. Over the weekend, The Wall Street Journal reported that key Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, will urge the president for new “defensive agreements” with the U.S. The report revealed further details on the types of military equipment that the countries will be requesting at the upcoming Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit at Camp David on May 14.
In the Journal in April, former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George P. Shultz made the case that any final agreement with Iran will not “serve as a way to dissociate America from Middle East conflicts.” They continued, “As Sunni states gear up to resist a new Shiite empire, the opposite is likely to be the case.” Additionally, many of the leading Gulf states have threatened to acquire nuclear capabilities and have vowed to get whatever Iran gets—further risking nuclear proliferation. Kissinger and Shultz asserted, “Nuclear arms must not be permitted to turn into conventional weapons. The passions of the region allied with weapons of mass destruction may impel deepening American involvement.”
The Gulf states look to secure stronger U.S. security guarantees and bolster their arsenals to counter Iran’s regional aggression and pursuit of nuclear capabilities. The Journal reported that they seek more “drones, surveillance equipment and missile-defense systems” and also want upgrades in their fighter jet capabilities—including the powerful F-35. Such an advanced system—one that has the ability to avoid radar detection and can travel at supersonic speeds—has so far only been reserved for Israel and Turkey. But Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) expressed concern over the Obama administration granting these weapons requests and warned that Congress might stop some of the arms sales. “We want to make sure that the one and only democracy in the region is never outgunned,” he declared. “I think they [GCC states] have a legitimate concern about Iran,” Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said, but pointed out that “we have to make sure that Israel’s qualitative military edge is kept.” According to the Journal, Israel opposes the advanced weapons sales to the GCC states for fear that one day those systems could be used against them.
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