US official urges GCC unity to combat ‘threat posed by Iran’

The chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee urged Gulf countries to resolve the ongoing diplomatic spat.

U.S. Rep. Engel speaks during introduction of Climate Action Now Act on Capitol Hill in Washington
Eliot Engel's comments come as the tension between Washington and Tehran escalates [File: Joshua Roberts/Reuters]

The chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee has called for Gulf countries to work together to contain what he describes as the “threat posed by Iran”.

Eliot Engel said the US and its “Gulf partners” share similar opportunities and urged parties involved in the GCC diplomatic crisis to find a resolution to counter the region’s “real threats”.

“The United States and its Gulf partners share economic opportunities, anti-terrorism concerns and can be working together to counter the threat posed by Iran,” Engel said on Wednesday.

“For this to happen, a unified Gulf is essential, but so far we have not seen, unfortunately, enough progress to end the Qatar blockade,” he said.

The comments come amid an ongoing blockade on Qatar imposed in June 2017, by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt.

World reacts to Iran’s decision to abandon parts of nuclear deal

The quartet has accused Qatar of supporting “terrorism”. Qatar has denied the charges and said the boycott aims to impinge on its sovereignty.

Engel also urged the blockading countries to lift sanctions imposed against Qatar.

“It is in all parties’ interest to end the blockade so that we can work together to counter the real threats in the region,” he said.

“At the very least, the Gulf countries should allow Qatar overflight rights.”

The tension between the US and rival Iran has escalated after US President Donald Trump imposed fresh sanctions via an executive order.

On Wednesday, he sanctioned Iran’s steel, aluminium, copper and iron sectors, which provide crucial foreign currency earnings for its crippled economy, and threatened further action.

Trump’s move came after Tehran earlier said it was quitting parts of the 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers, which Washington abandoned in 2018 and ignited the current crisis.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he hopes the nuclear deal can be saved after Iran’s announcement.

European countries who are signatories to the deal expressed concern over the latest developments threatening the agreement.

Across Europe, there was concern over the latest developments threatening the nuclear deal. Russia and China, also signatories, have blamed US sanctions for Tehran’s announcement.

Source: Al Jazeera