Commander of United States Central Command Joseph Leonard Votel, speaks during a meeting with the Gulf cooperation council's armed forces chiefs of staff in Kuwait City on September 12, 2018. Image Credit: AFP

Manama: Iran's destabilising actions and violent extremist organisations are the main security threats to the region and to the US, Central Command chief General Joseph Votel said on Wednesday.

Such threats make it "imperative" to "enhance and integrate our capabilities for our mutual national security interests" and "rise above all the other aspects,” Votel, who heads US forces in the Middle East, said at a conference in Kuwait of the military chiefs of staff of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Egypt, Jordan and the US Central Command.

The GCC, formed in 1981, comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Kuwait's Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Mohammad Al Khudher said the meeting was to strengthen ties, unite visions and contribute to achieving security and stability both regionally and regionally.

Joint cooperation

He said that he looked forward to such gathering leading to “the first stage of concrete joint-cooperation and the boosting of military capacity development to succeed in order to face future challenges.”

The top Kuwaiti commander said it was highly important to bolster military cooperation in order to deal with security challenges in the Middle East.

Iran has invariably been cited by most GCC countries and, recently by the US, as the major threat to stability in the region.

Two of the GCC states, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, have no diplomatic relations with Iran while others have limited them.

Bahrain has accused Iran of blatant interference in its domestic affairs, smuggling weapons into the kingdom and supporting groups that the Tehran regime is using as proxies.

Kuwait has also reported Iranian interference, citing the busting of espionage cells that reportedly had links with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as well as the discovery of caches of weapons.

Saudi Arabia severed its relations with Iran in 2016 following the storming of its diplomatic missions.