U.S. Ties in Persian Gulf at Risk as Obama Allows Space for Russian-Syrian Plan

(Washington Post) Loveday Morris - The U.S. risks damaging relations with Persian Gulf states as it warily embraces a Russian initiative for Syria to relinquish its chemical arsenal, analysts say, with Sunni monarchies fearful that the U.S. pullback from military strikes will bolster President Assad and the influence in the region of his ally Iran. Saudi Arabia, which is spearheading military support for the Syrian rebels, had publicly backed the idea of U.S. strikes, and the rebels themselves had said they hoped to capitalize on any action to gain ground against government forces. For Gulf states including Saudi Arabia, the fight to oust Assad plays into a wider regional struggle against the influence of Shiite Iran. Many in the region fear that capitulating to Russia's plan may bolster Assad and his allies. Kuwait and Qatar are among those that have signed a White House-sponsored statement condemning Syria for the chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21 and calling for a robust international response. The U.S. is finding its traditional alliances in the region weakened in the wake of the Arab Spring. The Gulf countries, long mistrustful of the Muslim Brotherhood, have backed Egypt's new interim government, while the U.S. has greeted it with caution.

2013-09-12 00:00:00

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