Amidst increasing tensions and conflicts within and throughout the Gulf, the six Arab members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) just displayed rare unity against Iran. Two months before it is set to expire, the GCC (made up of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates) on Sunday endorsed an extension of the United Nations arms embargo on Iran.
Perhaps not coincidentally, notes The Times of Israel, this rare unified GCC statement comes after recent visits by outgoing U.S. special representative for Iran Brian Hook, showing that U.S. diplomacy is still effective. Extending the arms embargo against Iran is a major goal of the Trump administration.
The Gulf countries are deeply concerned about Iran’s imperial ambitions in the region. In its letter to the UN Security Council, The Times of Israel reported that the GCC stated Iran had:
…not ceased or desisted from armed interventions in neighboring countries, directly and through organizations and movements armed and trained by Iran. As such, it is inappropriate to lift the restrictions on conventional weapons’ movement to and from Iran until it abandons its destabilizing activities in the region and ceases to provide weapons to terrorist and sectarian organizations.
The UN imposed its arms embargo in 2010 over Iran’s illegal nuclear program. It banned Iran from buying major foreign-made weapons systems like jet fighters, tanks, and warships as well as related military technologies. This embargo has increasingly forced Iran to rely on maintaining much of its aging military equipment dating back to before its 1979 Islamic Revolution against the Shah.
President Obama’s 2015 nuclear deal with Iran – known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – included a provision for the UN to sunset the arms embargo this October. Since the deal was not a formal treaty ratified by the U.S. Senate – and as part of his “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran – President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the JCPOA in 2018.