The White House today announced its intentions to dramatically deepen military ties with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states today, saying they will jointly cooperate to deal with “external threats.”
The most dramatic part of this deal is that the White House is likely to add all the GCC nations to the official list of “major non-NATO allies.” (MNNA)
This designation has broad implications on military ties and US provision of advanced arms. Two GCC members, Bahrain and Kuwait, were already MNNAs, but this would be a considerable boost for Saudi Arabia in particular.
The Saudis have been seeking an official US pledge of mutual military defense, and while MNNA theoretically stops a bit short of that, it is likely a distinction without a difference in practice, putting the Saudis and their allies at parity with Israel, Japan, and South Korea.
President Obama did assure, during the summit, that the US would “consider” using military force to defend the GCC, though in practice there’s never been a serious suggestion those nations would face a defensive threat from anyone.