Washington: The US government and six Gulf states voiced concern about what they said was Iran’s deeper cooperation with “state and non-state actors,” an oblique reference to its support for Russia’s war in Ukraine, and called Tehran a growing threat to regional security.
In a joint statement issued on Thursday, the US and members of the Gulf Cooperation Council condemned Iran for nuclear activities, destabilising regional activity and global weapons proliferation.
While the message was about Iran, the meetings also highlighted US efforts to restore unity within the council, which was riven by a Saudi Arabia-led blockade of Qatar in 2017 and disagreements over Saudi oil policy. The US-Gulf Cooperation Council Working Group was supposed to convene in Riyadh in October, but the gathering was postponed amid tensions over the OPEC+ oil production cut.
The US and GCC bloc will expand cooperation “to constrain Iran’s ability to conduct destabilising activities and deter it from conducting future acts of aggression,” according to the statement, which followed a Wednesday working group session on Iran.
That was part of a broader, multiday series of engagements between US and GCC defence and national security officials.
President Joe Biden, who had expected an increase in oil output following his July trip to Saudi Arabia, warned Saudi Arabia at the time of the OPEC+ cut that “there will be consequences.” But during a press briefing on Monday, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for the Middle East Dana Stroul brushed off any lingering tensions.
She said meetings sent a strong message that the US has not “deprioritised” the Middle East or disengaged from the region.
“There’s an alignment of threat perception,” she said, adding that the US remained unrivaled in its ability to “build coalitions and expand partnerships.”
The US has been trying for years to get GCC countries to share intelligence in real time and to integrate their maritime and defense systems using the most-advanced US technologies like so-called unmanned surface vessels patrolling waters from the Gulf to the Red Sea.