(JNS.org) Saudi Arabia announced that its leader, King Salman, will not be attending an upcoming U.S.-Arab summit at the White House and the Camp David retreat this week.
King Salman will instead send his son, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who serves as defense minister, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the country’s interior minister.
While Saudi officials cited an overlap with the ceasefire in Yemen as the reason for the move, many analysts believe that it is a signal of Saudi Arabia’s displeasure with U.S. policies in the region, particularly on Iran.
The White House announced the summit last month amid Arab concerns over the announcement of a nuclear framework deal between Iran and the world powers. But four of the six Gulf nation leaders will not attend the summit, raising serious doubts over the effectiveness of the gathering.
In addition to unease over the nuclear negotiations with Iran, Arab leaders have voiced concern about America’s commitment to Middle East security and stability amid growing Islamic extremism in the region.
“I think we are looking for some form of security guarantee, given the behavior of Iran in the region, given the rise of the extremist threat,” said Yousef al-Otaiba, the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to the U.S., the Associated Press reported. “In the past, we have survived with a gentleman’s agreement with the United States about security. I think today, we need something in writing. We need something institutionalized.”