Washington pledges robust defense for GCC

Updated 16 May 2015

Washington pledges robust defense for GCC

CAMP DAVID: US President Barack Obama on Thursday updated leaders from Gulf states on international efforts to forge a nuclear deal with Iran, said Ben Rhodes, US deputy national security adviser.
Rhodes said the US would welcome support from Gulf countries for the deal, which many Arab leaders are concerned would empower Iran to work in destabilizing ways in the region.
The White House said the first day of the summit focused on the Iranian nuclear deal. To go through the details of nuclear talks with Iran, Obama brought along his secretaries of treasury, state, energy as well as CIA director — and former Riyadh station chief — John Brennan.
The summit discussed prospects of speedy US military assistance for the Gulf countries including missile defense systems, the White House said. “We have received requests from the GCC states to get more weapons even before the summit,” a White House spokesman said.
He emphasized that the US would continue its efforts to strengthen the defense capabilities of GCC countries.
Obama is expected to offer the GCC countries more military assistance, including increased joint exercises and coordination on ballistic missile systems.
Rhodes said Obama and Gulf leaders would discuss strategies for Syria. The White House is open to evaluating the option of a no-fly zone to help resolve the Syrian conflict, Rhodes said, although he said the measure is not seen as a viable way to address fighting in urban areas.
Just two heads of state are among those meeting Obama, with other nations sending lower-level but still influential representatives.
On Sunday, Saudi Arabia announced that Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman was skipping the summit. The heads of the UAE and Oman have had health problems and were not making the trip. Bahrain’s royal court announced Wednesday that rather than travel to Washington, King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa would be attending a horse show and meeting with Queen Elizabeth.
The Gulf summit comes as the US and five other nations work to reach an agreement with Iran by the end of June to curb its nuclear efforts in exchange for relief from international economic sanctions. The Gulf nations fear that an easing of sanctions will only facilitate Iran’s aggression.
The White House says a nuclear accord could clear the way for more productive discussions with Iran about its reputed terror links.


Egypt urges decisive action against states backing ‘terror’

Updated 47 min 27 sec ago

Egypt urges decisive action against states backing ‘terror’

  • El-Sisi was apparently referring to Turkey and Qatar
  • Militant-related violence in Egypt has been centered on the Sinai Peninsula

CAIRO: Egypt’s president Wednesday called for “decisive” and “collective” action against countries supporting “terrorism” in an apparent reference to Turkey and Qatar, who back the Muslim Brotherhood group, which is outlawed in Egypt.
The three countries also support opposing factions in the war-torn Libya.
Addressing a two-day forum on peace in Africa in the southern city of Aswan, Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi also said achieving sustainable development in Africa is needed, along with efforts to fight militant groups in Egypt and the Sahel region that stretches across Africa south of the Sahara Desert.
“There should be a decisive response to countries supporting terrorism and a collective response against terrorism, because the terrorist groups will only have the ability to fight if they are provided with financial, military and moral support,” he said.
The gathering in Aswan is attended by the leaders of Niger, Chad, Nigeria and Senegal along with officials from the US, Britain and Canada.
The Sahel region is home to Al-Qaeda and Daesh-linked militants. El-Sisi said Egypt could help train forces and provide weapons to countries in the region to fight extremists.
Egypt has for years been battling a Daesh-led insurgency that intensified after the military overthrew Muslim Brotherhood President Muhammad Mursi in 2013 amid mass protests against his brief rule.
Militant-related violence in Egypt has been centered on the Sinai Peninsula, as well as in the country’s vast Western Desert, which has witnessed deadly attacks blamed on militants infiltrating from neighboring Libya.
Since Mursi’s ouster, tensions have grown between Egypt and Turkey and Egypt and Qatar. The political party of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Cairo designated as at terrorist group in 2013.
El-Sisi also said a “comprehensive, political solution would be achieved in the coming months” for the conflict in Libya, which descended into chaos after the 2011 civil war that ousted and killed long-time dictator Muammar Qaddafi. He did not elaborate.
He said that would put an end to a “terrorist hotbed that pushes militants and weapons to (Libya’s) neighboring countries including Egypt.”
El-Sisi apparently was referring to an international summit in Berlin that aims to reach an agreement on actions needed to end the conflict. The conference had been scheduled for October, but it has apparently been postponed.
El-Sisi’s comments came amid heightened tensions with Turkey after a controversial maritime border agreement it signed last month with Libya’s Tripoli-based government.
Greece, Egypt and Cyprus, which lie between the two geographically, have denounced the deal as being contrary to international law, and Greece expelled the Libyan ambassador last week over the issue.
Haftar has for months been fighting an array of militias allied with the Tripoli authorities to wrestle control of the capital. He is backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, as well as France and Russia, while the Tripoli-based government receives aid from Turkey, Qatar and Italy.