With the dust barely settled after a historic accord to limit Iran’s nuclear programme, the United States has once again begun making the case to its allies in the region about the need for a collective defence system against the threat from Tehran’s conventional weapons, particularly its large arsenal of missiles.
Gulf Arab countries have so far voiced guarded support for the nuclear deal, which will loosen economic and, eventually, military constraints placed on Tehran, but their future policy decisions will be guided by US action to back up promises of increased support through enhanced security cooperation and expedited arms sales.
These moves are aimed at bolstering the Gulf’s ability to defend itself against Iran’s military threat, and with the international embargo on ballistic missile technology scheduled to be lifted in eight years, the most potent of those threats is set to become even more of a strategic challenge.
One of the key components of the US effort is the integration of individual GCC countries’ missile-defence systems into a regional umbrella, which US strategists believe would most effectively deter Iranian missile attacks. The Camp David summit between President Barack Obama and Gulf leaders in May was an opportunity to make progress on this goal, which the US has been pushing for the past two decades with few tangible results.
One day after the deal with Iran was signed on July 14, Mr Obama said he hoped that by the time his successor is elected next year, Washington was “in a conversation with all our partners in the region about how we have strengthened our security partnerships so that they feel they can address any potential threats that may come, including threats from Iran.”
This “includes the work that we’ve done with the GCC up at Camp David, making sure that we execute that”, he said…