“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” Emma Lazarus
The Huffington Post headlined (exaggerated) on Monday: “The Great Gulf Back-Out. Saudi King, Other Gulf Nation Rulers To Skip Camp David Summit………..”. Other US media have also repeated this idea of the hesitation of the tired, poor, huddled, wretched of the Gulf to make the trip to Washington. This is a bit of an exaggeration. There are solid non-political reasons why most of the top GCC leaders will not attend; Several of them are physically unable:
- King Salman of Saudi Arabia: the Saudi princes are as unhappy about the Iran nuclear deal as Netanyahu claims to be. Maybe even more so, given that Netanyahu is a faker: he uses it as a red herring. Saudis want Iran under blockade, impoverished and preferably attacked by Americans or Israelis or both. Because it is the only way they can be the most important player in the Persian Gulf. The Iranian population is about 77 million, almost all native, and they sit over the world’s largest gas reserves. The Saudi population is about 16 million citizens (plus about 9 million temporary foreign laborers who rotate). Some Saudi (Wahhabi) opposition groups claim that King Salman is suffering from Alzheimer’s and that he will never attend any foreign summit anyway. This self-serving rumor has not been totally corroborated yet.
(Bahrain doesn’t count as completely independent here. The rulers of Bahrain ape the Al Saud: with thousands of Saudi troops in their country, they do as they do and probably they do as they are told).
- Oman: the Sultan of Oman has had surgery and lengthy medical treatment in Europe. In recent years he has had someone else represent him at all foreign summits. Besides, he maintains friendly relations with both sides of the Iranian-Saudi rivalry.
- United Arab Emirates: the president of UAE and ruler of Abu Dhabi Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed is ill, and he has been absent from all summits. The real power is with his brothers, especially crown prince Shaikh Mohammed Bin Zayed, who will attend. Nothing new here. So, in spite of claims by some UAE minor officials and professors about a reaction to the Iran deal, this is not exactly true: the ruler has not attended any summit for several years, nor should he, and he would not attend Camp David anyway.
- The Emir of Kuwait and Emir of Qatar apparently are the only two healthy rulers of the GCC. They will attend.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum