News / Middle East

US Urges Divided Gulf to Unite Against Threats Like Iran

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary General Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani speaks as U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel listens during a presser as part of the GCC meeting on Wednesday, May 14, 2014 in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia.
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary General Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani speaks as U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel listens during a presser as part of the GCC meeting on Wednesday, May 14, 2014 in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia.
Reuters
The United States on Wednesday urged Saudi Arabia and its Gulf neighbors to unite in confronting common threats such as Iran, even as the Arab states struggle to overcome divisions over Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
 
“The most pressing security challenges threaten this region as a whole - and they demand a collective response,” U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said during opening remarks of a meeting of defense ministers from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
 
“This approach is how the region must continue to address the threats posed by Iran,” he said.
 
He arrived in Jeddah on Tuesday and met senior Saudi officials including Crown Prince Salman and deputy defense minister Prince Salman bin Sultan.
 
Most of the GCC's six members - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman - are wary of Iranian influence in the Middle East, but their responses vary from barely concealed hostility to diplomatic engagement.
 
However, efforts led by Saudi Arabia, Iran's biggest regional rival, to forge a united front against Tehran have been complicated by an unprecedented rift within the GCC over Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood.
 
While the feud prompted Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates to withdraw their ambassadors from Qatar in early March, Gulf countries, encouraged by Washington, appear to be seeking to repair ties, and in April agreed on ways to implement a security agreement.
 
On Tuesday, Saudi Foreign Minister Price Saud al-Faisal said Riyadh had invited Iran's foreign minister to visit, hinting at a possible thaw between Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite Iran, which are at odds over the conflict in Syria and other issues.
 
Saudi officials, like Western powers, suspect Iran is working to develop atomic bomb capability, which Tehran denies.
 
According to Iran's state news agency, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Tehran had not received a written invitation from Saudi Arabia but that a visit between the two nations' foreign ministers was on Iran's agenda.
 
The U.S.-Gulf meeting takes place as negotiators from Iran and six world powers, including the United States, sit down for talks aimed at reaching a final accord by July to settle the standoff over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
 
Hagel said heightened military cooperation could help Gulf states confront not only Iran but militancy and other challenges, suggesting several modest steps to bolster maritime, air and digital defense, such as establishing a joint U.S.-GCC cyber defense initiative.
 
The Obama administration has also been seeking to reassure Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries concerned by U.S. overtures to Iran.
 
“While our strong preference is for a diplomatic solution, the United States will remain postured and prepared to ensure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon - and that Iran abides by the terms of any potential agreement,” Hagel said.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs