Arab leaders in the Persian Gulf have mostly said NO to an Obama invitation to join him at Camp David to discuss his plans for a nuke deal with Iran. Many leaders decided to send deputies instead. The Saudi King decided to send his nephew the Crown Prince “to enjoy the president’s eloquence.” That's a polite way of saying they are tired of being lectured to by Obama who never seems able to listen and understand THEIR concerns.
Obama's Saudi problem has been going on for years. They don't trust him. Peter Baker and Michael Shear at The New York Times trace the latest divide with our ally here. But it's obvious from the response of other Gulf leaders that the problem with Arab allies goes well beyond Saudi complaints.
Amir Taheri writing in the New York Post sums up the problem in "Obama’s lonely ‘Arab Summit’:"
Ever since he decided to chase the mirage of a “Grand Bargain” with Iran, President Obama has pretended that the only opposition comes from Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu and “hardline” Republicans in the Congress.But just as in show business Obama believes the show must go on. But his goal of attempting to "hoodwink the American public" into believing Arab leaders support his Iran plan has failed as abysmally as his foreign policy generally. And all of this back and forth is coming at the expense of our relationships with allies and friends that have been generations in the making. Sound smart to you?
He was to highlight that claim by hosting a summit for “key Arab allies” at Camp David this week.
Yet the exercise has instead shown the failure of Obama to sell his narrative to “key Arab allies” even before the first round of orange juice is served at Camp David.
Of the six heads of the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, only two, the emirs of Kuwait and Qatar, will attend.
Even the offer by Obama of a separate tete-a-tete in Washington could not persuade Saudi Arabia’s King Salman to attend what Riyadh sources describe as “a photo-op” aimed at hoodwinking the American public.
All in all this would be an awkward event, perhaps the first time that so many leaders publicly shun a president of the United States.
There are two reasons for the boycott.
The first is that the “key Arab allies” already know that Obama, who genuinely believes he is always right, does not listen to anybody.
The Camp David exercise, therefore, is designed only as an occasion to admire Obama’s strategy and celebrate his “historic achievement” in accepting Iran’s position as a “threshold nuclear power.”
The second reason is that Arabs already know what Obama is going to say.
“Obama made it clear he wanted an accord with Iran under any circumstances,” a senior Arab official recently told me, on condition of anonymity.
“Obama is banking on the assumption that giving Iran everything it wants may help change its behavior,” the Arab official told me. “He may be right. We think he is wrong.”