The US secretary of defense has called on the Persian Gulf Arab states to close ranks against the Islamic Republic.
Chuck Hagel, who was addressing defense ministers from the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Jeddah on Wednesday, claimed that Iran poses “threats” to the region.
“The most pressing security challenges threaten this region as a whole – and they demand a collective response… This approach is how the region must continue to address the threats posed by Iran,” Hagel said.
His divisive allegations come against the backdrop of Saudi Arabia’s intention to improve its relations with Iran.
On May 13, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said Riyadh is ready to engage in negotiations with Iran on the improvement of bilateral relations.
He said Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had been invited to visit Saudi Arabia.
The US secretary of defense also attributed “destabilizing activities” to Iran for its support for the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“We continue to share deep concerns about Iran’s destabilizing activities throughout the region, including its… support for the Assad regime in Syria and its efforts to undermine the stability in [P]GCC member nations,” Hagel stated.
Iran and Saudi Arabia remain split over several regional issues such as the situation in Syria and Bahrain.
Tehran has always been critical of Riyadh’s support for the heavy-handed crackdown of the Bahraini regime on peaceful protesters.
Riyadh also supports foreign-backed militants operating against the Syrian government, while Iran stresses the importance of resolving the crisis in Syria through political approaches.