Cafe Talk May 14, 2015 - The two main current events to talk about around the coffee table. The first is the Camp David summit between President Obama and various representatives from Persian Gulf allies. Issues being discussed include the Iran nuclear deal, ISIS, and regional security. The Obama administration has pledged to use US military force to defend allies in the region. Most allies in the region, particularly Israel and Saudi Arabia, are skeptical of the pending nuclear deal between the major world powers and Tehran.

The fear is the deal will roll back Western sanctions against Iran and allow it to create more havoc for regional allies. Represented at Camp David includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates. On the table was a missile defense shield as well as commitment to deepen military ties. At issue is this: the Gulf allies wanted a defense treaty, something Obama is unwilling to go to right now. However, deeper cooperations, arms sales, and training.

Prior to the summit, the king of Saudi Arabia was scheduled to attend but cancel at the last minute. It was seen as a snub, despite assertions to the contrary, by the Saudi King against the president.

And second, the president is granted the fast track negotiation authority by Congress to move the Trans-Pacific Partnership forward. It would allow the president and his trade representatives to negotiate the deal with no debate or amendments that could derail the deal. Like Cuba and the Iranian nuclear deal, this Pacific trade pact could be part of Obama’s legacy. With the Republicans on control of Congress, it is likely President Obama will be able to move forward with the deal despite strong pushbacks from elements of his own party and supporters. Issues of contention include secrecy of the negotiations, currency manipulation, and intellectual properties. There are still a lot of points of disagreements among the parties involved in the pact.

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