The Gulf states face a greater threat from within their own countries than from outside forces such as Iran or ISIL (acronym of the so-called ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ takfiri group), US President Barack Obama has said in an interview explaining the nuclear deal struck with Iran last week.
Speaking to the New York Times, Obama insisted the US was committed to GCC security but “a tough conversation” needed to be had with Gulf leaders over their internal issues.
The Arab states faced more pressing threats such as “populations that, in some cases, are alienated, youth that are underemployed, an ideology that is destructive and nihilistic, and in some cases, just a belief that there are no legitimate political outlets for grievances,” Obama said.
“… I think the biggest threats that they face may not be coming from Iran invading. It’s going to be from dissatisfaction inside their own countries. … That’s a tough conversation to have, but it’s one that we have to have,” he added.
Obama also said he would tell Gulf states they needed to be more active in addressing regional crises.
“I think when you look at what happens in Syria, for example, there’s been a great desire for the United States to get in there and do something,” he said during the interview published on Sunday.
“But the question is: Why is it that we can’t have Arabs fighting the terrible human rights abuses that have been perpetrated, or fighting against what Assad has done?” he added, referring to Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.
Obama said last week he would meet the six GCC leaders this spring at his Camp David retreat outside Washington, partly to discuss their concerns about the emerging nuclear agreement with Iran.
The Arab states in the region, including Saudi Arabia, have watched warily as Iran’s influence in the region has spread and each voiced considerable opposition – similar to the Zionist entity – to the nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic.