A significantly different tone will characterize the upcoming meetings between President Barack Obama and the heads of state of the Gulf Cooperation Council (or GCC, which is comprised of the member states Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the U.A.E., and Oman) to be held at the White House and Camp David May 13th-14th.
If America ends up at war, it almost certainly will be on behalf of one ally or another. Washington collects allies like most people collect Facebook "friends." The vast majority of U.S. allies are security liabilities, tripwires for conflict and war. Alliances should be based on interest, not charity.
The current Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, designed to prevent Iranian-backed forces from gaining power, symbolizes the Gulf's new assertiveness. This is unfolding as the various Gulf states seek to hedge their bets with different strategies that complement, rather than replace, the regional US security umbrella.
The key to untangling this mess and creating a series of tactical and strategic responses is to understand one basic truth: There are spirals of violence here that come from below, from the street, and spirals that come from above, from the state. Responses by citizens must undercut the violent spiral and address separately the state and the street.
If the threat to Israel and Jordan is primarily security, to Saudi Arabia it is also ideological, with IS tracing its roots to the philosophy of the 18th-century warrior-jurist Mohammed Ibn Abdul Wahhab and other Islamic sources on which the kingdom was built, and constituting a reference point that Salafists cannot ignore.