SHAFAQNA – The King of Bahrain Hamad Bin Isa can say whatever he pleases regarding the reason behind his decision not to take part in the Camp David Summit which the US president invited him to attend. He can say as the foreign minister Khalid Al Khalifa said, which is that he was already committed to a visit to the UK. The royal court also explained later that he left for Britain at the invitation of Queen Elizabeth to attend the joint yearly celebration at Windsor.
The Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz can also justify not attending the summit by saying he’s occupied with following up the five-day cease-fire, which should put a halt to the brutal shelling of the Saudi-led Arab coalition that has led to dozens of Yemeni deaths following six weeks of attacks.
Concerning the Saudi decision not to join the summit at Camp David, US newspapers and analysts stated that the reason is a “message of rebuke” sent to the White House that didn’t read the stances of his allies correctly with regards to the Iranian nuclear issue and a potential settlement in the end of next June. These political analysts didn’t fail to highlight the similar positions of the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states which are in harmony with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s stance, and that of the Republicans in the Congress too. As for Saudi foreign minister, Adel Al-Jubair, his statement denying any dispute with Washington was useless and didn’t convince anyone in the world.
There was “no expression of disappointment” from the Saudis, stated a senior US administration official to the New York Times. “If one wants to snub you, they let you know it in different ways,” he added.
Also according to the US-based paper, Jon Alterman, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that “King Salman’s absence was both a blessing and a snub. It holds within it a hidden opportunity, because senior US officials will have an unusual opportunity to take the measure of Mohammed bin Salman, the very young Saudi defense minister and deputy crown prince, with whom few have any experience.”
However, Mr. Alterman added: “For the White House though, it sends an unmistakable signal when a close partner essentially says he has better things to do than go to Camp David with the president.”
The paper also added that the “Arab nations are also angry about comments Mr. Obama recently made in an interview with The New York Times’ Thomas L. Friedman,” in which he criticized Saudi Arabia and the gulf states, considering that “the biggest threats that they face may not be coming from Iran invading. It’s going to be from dissatisfaction inside their own countries…populations that, in some cases, are alienated, youth that are underemployed, an ideology that is destructive and nihilistic, and in some cases, just a belief that there are no legitimate political outlets for grievances.”
The New York Times; however, stressed: “As upset as the Saudis are, they don’t really have a viable alternative strategic partnership in Moscow or Beijing.”
The same goes for the king of Bahrain who preferred to attend the annual celebration at Windsor with Britain’s Queen than take part in the Camp David Summit. Hamad Bin Isa doesn’t really care about Iran or its nuclear issue but he found the Saudi dissatisfaction as an opportunity to evade the commitments about which Obama might ask him and the Saudi king, concerning issues related to freedoms and human rights, and these are matters both of these kingdoms don’t want to commit to.
The paper then ended its article with a statement that sums up the issue: “There’s a growing perception at the White House that the US and Saudi Arabia are friends but not allies, while the US and Iran are allies but not friends.”