Persian Gulf (Times Of Ocean)- Several Arab states on the Persian Gulf shores are seeking a written agreement with Washington that could primarily provide defense support following an escalation in attacks from fighters in Yemen on the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
People familiar with the proposal said that the oil exporters are ideally seeking a formal treaty with the U.S. as they redraw a decades-old relationship amid broad geopolitical turmoil. A bilateral defense agreement that is expanded and revised over time might also be an option.
People pointed to a pact that the UAE has with France as a possible model. A deadly attack by Yemeni fighters from the Iranian-backed Houthi group on Abu Dhabi in January prompted Paris to send fighter jets to protect UAE airspace.
The UAE is among the countries seeking the agreement, the people said. Saudi Arabia is also pursuing these guarantees, and the UAE has asked Israel to help push the case, according to people familiar with the discussions on both sides.
Two-thirds of the Senate would need to approve a new treaty with the U.S., a challenge given Washington’s highly charged political climate.
Since 2015, a Saudi-led coalition, including the UAE, has been battling the Houthis. Aside from attacking the UAE for the first time during the conflict, the group has intensified its attacks on Saudi energy and military facilities in recent weeks. Riyadh warned earlier this month that oil exports may be disrupted if its Western allies do not step up to help.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with the UAE’s de facto ruler on Tuesday to discuss ways to expand and deepen cooperation, a U.S. readout of the meeting said. “The Secretary underscored our commitment to helping the UAE defend itself against threats emanating from Yemen and elsewhere in the region.” No further details were provided.
The UAE’s foreign ministry and Saudi Arabia’s center for international communication, which handles media inquiries, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The move builds on previous requests, said a person on the U.S. side aware of the Arabs idea, casting doubt on whether it would have any effect.
The move coincides with efforts to revive Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, which Israel and many U.S. lawmakers oppose.
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The UAE and Israel have been lobbying the U.S. to formulate a Middle East security strategy should the atomic accord be revived, Bloomberg News reported earlier this month. It failed to address concerns about Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities or its support for militias, including the Houthis.
Secretary General of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) said on Tuesday that the nuclear deal should not harm Persian Gulf security.
“The Iran nuclear deal should not ignore Iran’s disturbing actions in the region,” Nayef Al-Hajraf said.
Attempts to revive the nuclear deal and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are creating a new world order that requires defining commitments and responsibilities with the U.S., two of the people familiar with the proposal said.
In 2015, Iran’s rivals were unable to obtain guarantees thanks to volatile oil prices.
A U.S. official said that there had been no specific discussion of institutional security mechanisms to push back against Iran after Blinken attended a Middle East forum in Israel on Monday.