WASHINGTON: With conflicts raging across the Middle East, the US is seeking to reassure its Gulf allies that it has a regional strategy which will be bolstered, not shredded, by any Iran nuclear deal.
The US administration appears increasingly caught in a game of whack-a-mole as it confronts a series of complex challenges, with Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen just the latest complication in a regional tinderbox pitting Sunnis against Shiites, and even Sunni against Sunni.
From the war in Syria, to the collapse of Libya’s government, the battle against the Sunni Islamic State militants and the conflict in Yemen, the so-called Arab Spring has unleashed decades of pent-up sectarian and tribal tensions.
“The growing complexity of the various struggles the United States now faces have all the focus and simplicity of a kaleidoscope, and it is unclear that the United States and its allies have any clear strategic options that offer a credible response,” wrote Anthony Cordesman, expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
As a June 30 deadline for a deal with Iran on its nuclear program nears, US President Barack Obama has convened a summit of Gulf leaders seeking to allay their fears over any US rapprochement with the Shiite Islamic republic, and to brainstorm on how to tamp down regional fires.
The talks at the White House and the wooded presidential retreat of Camp David on May 13 and 14 will “discuss how we can further strengthen our security cooperation while resolving the multiple conflicts that have caused so much hardship and instability throughout the Middle East,” Obama said earlier this month.