US President Donald Trump’s “Muslim ban” executive order targeting seven Muslim-majority African/Middle Eastern countries received a chorus of criticism from around the world and within the Beltway. A number of Washington’s traditional allies, in addition to Iran, the United Nations and the Arab League, condemned the new American president’s decision, as did scores of US lawmakers on both sides of the partisan divide.
Save Qatar, which expressed a subtle disapproval of Trump’s executive order, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members, however, have been absent from this wave of condemnation. The 45th president’s phone conversation Jan. 29 with Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud did not cover the “Muslim ban.” The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) foreign minister and a Dubai police official went as far as to defend the move as within the US right as a sovereign nation, while dismissing the interpretation that the executive order is Islamophobic. Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman have, thus far, been silent. The lack of condemnation from the GCC is indicative of the Arab Gulf states’ "wait-and-see" approach to the new US administration and their vested interests in staying on Trump’s good side at a time when their economic and security challenges require close cooperation with Washington.