The talks between US President Barack Obama and Saudi King Salman held earlier this week in Washington, DC mark the beginning of a long-anticipated diplomatic progress between the two countries. These peace talks aim at restoring historical partnership between the two sides as well as addressing the ways to contribute to security and stability in the Middle East.
It is the first visit by King Salman to the White House since assuming the throne and the timing could not work out better for President Obama and his political campaign in regards to Iran’s nuclear deal. The Iran nuclear deal aims at preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons in exchange for sanctions relief in the country. However, opinions regarding the deal continue to vary. For example, a Middle East analyst at the Wilson Centre in Washington, Aaron David Miller, told Al Jazeera that, “the Iran deal is going to bring them in from the cold, and sanctions relief is going to provide resources for their regional aspirations”. Nevertheless, the visit of King Salman himself is enough for Obama’s campaign to win support considering the given promises of regional military cooperation with Saudi Arabia and the other Arab Gulf states.
According to Saudi Foreign Minister, Adel al-Jubeir, the countries have reached a consensus on strategies to “counter Iran’s negative activities” in the Middle East and ensure Iran could not acquire nuclear capability. He adds on, “The president explained and affirmed that the agreement prevents Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, has a robust and unprecedented inspections regime that includes inspections of all sites…”. While Obama’s administration focused on promoting the Iran nuclear deal, the Saudi Foreign Minister concentrated on making President Obama aware of Saudi’s efforts directed at relieving the humanitarian situation in Yemen. After the Saudi-led coalition aimed at restoring the government in Yemen through a campaign against Houthi rebels resulted in hundreds of civilian deaths and serious shortages of food and medicine due to the naval blockade, President Obama insisted on providing humanitarian organizations with unrestricted access to Yemen.
At the end of the meeting, both sides were satisfied with the results of the talks. President Obama received Saudi Arabia’s assurance to facilitate opening Red Sea ports in order to deliver required aid to Yemen under UN supervision. As for the King Salman, he received his reassurances from the Obama administration regarding the Iran nuclear deal that involves its assistance to counter Iran’s “destabilizing activities”. These diplomatic talks were necessary to increase transparency between the two sides and hopefully pave the way for future endeavors. Collaboration between different countries such as the US and Saudi Arabia is essential to patch the breaches in international security as well as to remind each other of what really is at stake: human lives.