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

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid