It may not have been a massive breakthrough, but in defiance of most predictions, last week’s summit meeting between American president Barack Obama and leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries proved a significant success. Both sides appear to have achieved their basic aims. And, most importantly, the stage is set for a much longer and broader conversation that should restore a crucial, albeit frayed, strategic relationship.
The American side initiated the meeting when, on April 2, Mr Obama announced the framework for an agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme. Washington clearly sought to reassure its anxious Gulf allies and explain what, precisely, it is and is not doing in the negotiations with Iran.
The Gulf countries may not be entirely convinced yet, but it seems Mr Obama made considerable progress. He was reportedly adamant that the Iran talks are only about the nuclear file and do not constitute a “grand bargain” or broader rapprochement that would allow Tehran to pursue an aggressive regional agenda with less American opposition, let alone blessings.