Dr. John Duke Anthony on Inside Story (Al Jazeera English)

On May 15, 2015, Dr. John Duke Anthony, Founding President & CEO of the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, appeared on Inside Story on Al Jazeera English. The program explored the recently concluded U.S.-GCC Summit in Washington and Camp David, and U.S. pledges to defend its Gulf allies.

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After a Nuclear Agreement: Whither Arab-Iranian and U.S.-GCC Relations?

after-agreement-300x200On May 12, 2015, the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, the West Asia Council, and the U.S.-GCC Corporate Cooperation Committee hosted a public affairs briefing titled “After a Nuclear Agreement: Whither Arab-Iranian and U.S.-GCC Relations?” in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC.

Featured specialists included: Dr. John Duke Anthony, Founding President and CEO, National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations; Dr. Christian Koch, Director, Gulf Research Center Foundation (Geneva, Switzerland); Dr. Sara Vakhshouri, President, SVB Energy International, and author, The Marketing and Sale of Iranian Export Crude Oil Since the Islamic Revolution; Dr. Thomas Mattair, Executive Director, Middle East Policy Council, and author, The Three Occupied UAE Islands: The Tunbs and Abu Musa and Global Security Watch – Iran: A Reference Handbook; Dr. Alidad Mafinezam, President, West Asia Council, and author, Iran and Its Place Among Nations; and Dr. Imad Harb, Distinguished International Affairs Fellow, National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations. Mr. John Pratt, Member, Board of Directors, and Distinguished International Affairs Fellow, National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, served as moderator.

A video recording and a podcast of the program are available below. The podcast can also be found in iTunes along with recordings of other National Council programs: http://bit.ly/itunes-ncusar.

“After a Nuclear Agreement: Whither Arab-Iranian and U.S.-GCC Relations?” podcast (.mp3)

Upcoming Event: “Implications of Leadership Changes in Saudi Arabia” – May 22 in Washington, DC

On May 22, 2015, the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations and the U.S.-GCC Corporate Cooperation Committee are hosting a public affairs briefing titled Leadership Changes in Saudi Arabia: What Implications for the Kingdom, the Region, and the U.S.?”

The featured specialist will be Mr. Nawaf Obaid, Visiting Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University; Lecturer, London Academy of Diplomacy, Stirling University; and Senior Fellow, King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies. Serving as moderator and facilitator will be Dr. John Duke Anthony, Founding President and CEO, National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations; and Member, U.S. Department of State Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy and Subcommittee on Sanctions.


May 22, 2015
9:00 – 9:30 a.m. – Coffee & Tea / Networking
9:30 – 11:00 a.m. – Remarks / Q&A


Rayburn House Office Building
Room B-369
45 Independence Ave SW
Washington, DC 20515


The event is free but R.S.V.P. (acceptances only) online: http://conta.cc/1AZMUTC or via email to rsvp@ncusar.org is required.

Please note: seating capacity is limited. Include the following information when you R.S.V.P.:

If you have any questions you can call the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations at (202) 293-6466.

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The GCC-U.S. Summit: An Opportunity for Strategic Reassurance?

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An unprecedented and extraordinary event is about to occur: a heads of state summit. These, by any standard, can be and often are extraordinary events. That’s what this one is. It is so because it gathers in the capital of the United States President Barack Obama with the representatives of the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The two-day summit is set for May 13-14, 2015.

GCC leaders are scheduled to meet with the president in Washington on day one and on day two gather with him in the more capacious and secluded confines of Camp David. The latter venue is a longtime private presidential meeting place in the Maryland foothills, which is conducive to wide-ranging and deeply probing discussions on matters of common, timely, and varying degrees of urgent interest to the president, his advisers, his guests, and their advisers. The focus of this essay is the issues, challenges, and opportunities that will focus the principals’ attention while there.

The Summit’s Participants in Context

That the summit is occurring at this time is no mere coincidence. In terms of the GCC-U.S. relationship, it brings to the forefront the chief representative of the world’s most militarily, economically, and technologically advanced nation. Joining him will be the leaders of six neighboring Arab Gulf countries from what is arguably the world’s most strategically vital region that are little known and even less well understood by the American people as a whole.

What needs to be better comprehended by the American public regarding these countries are the roots and nature of their multifaceted strategic importance not just to their peoples and immediate region, but also the United States and the world in general. To begin with, the six GCC countries possess thirty per cent of the planet’s proven reserves of oil, the vital strategic commodity that drives the world’s economies. Collectively, they are also the holders of the developing world’s largest reservoir of financial assets, as measured in the trillions of dollars.

Crude Oil 2014 Proved Reserves.

In addition, the GCC countries have no rivals in their combined positive impact on the American aerospace and defense industries. In the past half-decade, their purchases of U.S.-manufactured defense and security structures, systems, technology, weaponry, ammunition, training, maintenance, and operational assistance have massively impacted and continue to impact the American economy.

The dynamism and mutuality of benefits in the U.S.-GCC relationship are envied by virtually every country that wishes it could accomplish anything remotely similar.

The purchases of American export goods and services by these countries have provided jobs essential to the material wellbeing of millions of Americans. They have extended production lines of products that would otherwise no longer be available. As a consequence, they have lowered the cost per unit of many American manufactured goods. In so doing, they have thereby enhanced the competitiveness of this component of the American economy to a degree envied by virtually every government or corporation in other countries that would wish they could accomplish anything remotely similar.

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America’s Perspectives On and Benefits From Knowledge Transfer with the Arab World

anthony-300x200On April 29, 2015, National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations Founding President & CEO Dr. John Duke Anthony delivered the concluding keynote address at the 2015 Saudi-U.S. Healthcare Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The mission of the summit was to build, foster, and strengthen relationships between U.S. and Saudi Arabian healthcare providers and suppliers with a focus on the three tenets: (1) community – creating a global healthcare platform for exchanging “best practices;” (2) collaboration – promoting dialogue and growing existing relationships critical to “healthcare diplomacy;” and (3) commerce – facilitating new healthcare ventures and opportunities to stimulate “medical tourism.”

Dr. Anthony’s remarks were titled “America’s Perspectives On and Benefits From Knowledge Transfer with the Arab World,” and they can be accessed below as well as on YouTube, iTunes, and FeedBurner.


Dr. John Duke Anthony – “America’s Perspectives On and Benefits From Knowledge Transfer with the Arab World” (.mp3)

Dr. Anthony on the Crisis in Yemen

Following is an edited version of National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations Founding President & CEO Dr. John Duke Anthony’s remarks to the Saudi Press Agency on April 22, 2015, about the latest developments regarding Yemen.

Q: How do you assess the decision to end Operation Decisive Storm?

A: What drove the decision was the achievement of the campaign’s objective.

Q: And what was that?

A Royal Saudi Air Force F-15 taking part in Operation Decisive Storm. Photo: Saudi Press Agency.

A: It was multifold. For example, it was not just to ensure that the chaos in Yemen would not spread to Saudi Arabia. To that end, it was to guarantee that the kingdom’s national sovereignty, political independence, and territorial integrity would remain assured and intact. It was also to ensure that Yemen’s rebels and all other armed groups in Yemen would not have the means to threaten the kingdom militarily.

Q: How was this accomplished?

A: It was achieved by the kingdom’s air force taking out Yemen’s missiles by disabling its ballistic missile defense structures and systems as well as by dismantling most if not all of Yemen’s main ammunitions depots, ordinance warehouses, and weapons-firing capabilities. It was also achieved by gaining and maintaining effective control of Yemen’s air space; by administering an effective blockade of the major ports: namely, Aden and Hodeida if not also Mukalla; and by protecting its borders from Houthi rebel incursions.

Only by first accomplishing these goals could the kingdom’s armed forces begin to launch its second campaign: namely, Operation Restoring Hope.

Q: What are the defining features of Operation Restoring Hope?

A: They are threefold: political, economic, and humanitarian.

Q: How likely is it that these goals can be achieved?

A: In the immediate term, the long answer is the same as the short one – unlikely.


Q: Why is that?

A: It has to do with the nature of Yemen’s economy, resources, and overall situation from the perspective of the people’s material well-being.

Q: What do you mean by that?

A: I mean that Yemen is one of the Arab world’s poorest countries in terms of its gross national product as well as the income of its people per capita. I mean that it would be impossible to find another Arab country that is as massively and pervasively poor. Anyone who has lived and worked in the country and come to know its people, as I have been privileged to do, will acknowledge that the Yemeni people are among the world’s hardest working and at the same time the most in need of immediate and sustained economic and humanitarian support.

A Yemeni leader of tomorrow in Thula. Photo: Dr. John Duke Anthony.

Indeed, few if any would deny that Yemen is in dire need of economic, material, and human resource assistance across the board in practically every sector associated with the country’s quest not just for sustained modernization and development, but also humanitarian aid in terms of food, safety, and shelter – right now and for the foreseeable future.

In this regard, the Gulf Cooperation Council countries – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates – have not been found wanting. To the contrary, both individually and collectively, they have been and remain second to none in having extended whatever assistance they could – and can – in support of the legitimate needs, concerns, and interests of the Yemeni people. In this, Saudi Arabia has been in the lead, having provided over the past several decades more economic and developmental assistance to Yemen than all the rest of the countries and the world’s international financial and economic development organizations combined.

Q: But what has been the result?

A: The answer is far more and far less than one might imagine. Before and since the rebel uprisings occasioned by the Arab Spring in 2011 and the earlier and ongoing rebellion by the Shia Houthi tribes in the region north of the Yemeni capital of Sana’a – indeed, in an area that lies adjacent to the Saudi Arabian border – the degree and nature of support by the central government has been less than the people of this area believe would have been and should have been their rightful share. But in this self-centric view, they were not fundamentally different from innumerable other groups in Yemen that also felt deprived of what they have argued ought to be their due.

Yemen’s Human Development Index (HDI) indicators for 2013 relative to selected countries and groups. Source: United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report 2014, “Yemen Country Notes,” http://hdr.undp.org/sites/all/themes/hdr_theme/country-notes/YEM.pdf.

Q: Is this all there is to the situation?

A: No. What many overlook is that the humanitarian goals in Yemen cannot be accomplished without the achievement, first, of security and stability. Humanitarian administration, operations, distribution, and logistics will not be successful unless these two goals can be achieved. The adage of “Capital is a coward” – it is reluctant to go where security and stability is absent – applies in this instance.

The economic factors necessary for the success of Operation Restoring Hope can be divided into two parts. The first and easier part is financing this effort towards which the “Friends of Yemen” countries have pledged billions of dollars with very little additional effort being required to secure the funds necessary. The second part, which is the harder part, is to ensure that the economic aid is distributed efficiently and effectively to the official and known parties in Yemen who would in turn use this assistance to help the population and the country recover from the current dire situation. Great care must be taken to prevent the economic aid from reaching unofficial or hostile parties who would use it to further destabilize Yemen, and threaten its neighbors, or use it for personal benefit.

It is also important to remember that the Yemeni crisis is a direct result of the political positions, policies, and attitudes of the different parties in Yemen. The ensuing political chaos is the largest contributive factor to the current crisis in Yemen. A political solution in Yemen based on political conviction, commitment, and courage by all parties must be reached. Otherwise, Operation Restoring Hope will not achieve its desired goals.


Dr. John Duke Anthony is the Founding President & CEO of the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations.