7th APRIL 2015 - Vol.XXXVIII No.018
Local News

US must rebuild ties with GCC says former envoy

FORMER US ambassador to Bahrain Adam Ereli has urged his country to mend fences with the GCC states.

Mr Ereli, who served as a diplomat for 24 years in the Middle East and was ambassador to Bahrain from 2007 to 2011, said this after a recent visit to Bahrain, the UAE and Qatar, where he held talks with those countries' leaders, top businessmen and intellectuals.

He warned that this was a region the US neglects at its peril.

"As one senior member of a ruling family asked me, 'Why can't the US stand by us the way Russia stands by Syria?' We should. America must state clearly what it stands for and who it stands with. The unease we have sown among our allies is damaging to our national security and economic future.

"Sooner or later, a crisis will strike this part of the world. It could be conflict with Iran or the bloody hand of terror. Domestic upheaval threatens the very foundation of states. And make no mistake - American jobs and financial stability will be at stake.

"Now is the time to mend fences and rebuild frayed ties with our friends in the Gulf. President Barack Obama should take a page from President Clinton's play book. He should tell our friends in the GCC that we feel their pain. He should travel to the region and reassure troubled allies that America is on their side and will work with them in a spirit of common purpose to manage the challenges of a turbulent time. The administration must reverse this troubling trend of neglect. Our future prosperity depends on it," he said.

Mr Ereli said the six GCC states are vital to the security of the US and the stability of international order.

"The US Navy's Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain and the Eighth Air Force and Third Army have forward headquarters in Qatar and Kuwait. The UAE is the world's largest purchaser of US defence equipment, with total orders in excess of $10 billion."

He went on: "There's a good reason for this sizable military presence. The GCC accounts for over 30 per cent of the world's oil production. Roughly 35pc of all seaborne oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz. This includes 77pc of Japan's oil supply and 74pc of Korea's. The well-being of the world economy depends on a stable GCC.

"But our interests in the region go beyond guns and oil. The combined assets of the GCC's sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) exceed $1.6 trillion, or 34pc of the global SWF assets. Saudi Arabia's largest SWF invests mostly in low-yield US bonds. US foreign direct investment in the GCC exceeded $23.5bn in 2010. US goods and services trade with Saudi Arabia totalled $48bn in 2010, making it our 12th largest trading partner. The combined GDP of the GCC member states tops $1.3trn, rivalling that of India."

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