President Obama will host a gaggle of Arab leaders at Camp David for the Persian Gulf Summit this week. According to White House spokesman Josh Earnest, the summit is aimed to “strengthen the important security relationship” each has with the U.S.
The problem is that of the half dozen nations invited, only two will be sending their the chief executive. What’s more, King Salman of Saudi Arabia, the largest and most powerful in the region, canceled plans for the summit at the last minute.
Though Earnest denied it in a White House briefing this week, the media are calling the scheduling changes a ‘snub’ to President Obama. The administration continues to struggle in maintaining relationships with leaders in the region.
King Salman cited the upcoming five-day cease-fire with Houthi rebels in Yemen as the reason for the cancellation. However, the National Journal notes this is”a major missed opportunity for Obama” as Saudi Arabia grows frustrated with the White House over both the nuclear deal with Iran and continued accommodation of saber-rattling in the region.
The original schedule for the summit included a one-on-one meeting between Salman and President Obama a day before the summit was to begin This would have been an opportunity to build new ties with the king who only took the throne in January.
The uncertainty with Iran, which deadlines in two weeks, coupled with ongoing downward pressure on global oil prices by Saudi Arabia has the White House in a diplomatic pickle with no quick solution.