GCC agrees with US on patrols to stop arms shipments to Yemen

20 April 2016

Agreement was reached at a meeting between US Defense Secretary and Gulf his counterparts

The Gulf states and the US have agreed to carry out joint patrols to stop any Iranian arms shipments reaching Yemen, Abdullatif al-Zayani, the secretary general has said.

Zayani made the announcement at a joint news conference with US Defense Secretary Ash Carter in Riyadh, after a meeting between Carter and his counterparts from the six-member economic bloc of GCC, which includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the UAE and Oman, according to news agency Reuters.

Zayani also said that the meeting has also agreed to cooperate in building the GCC states’ joint missile defence systems, and in developing special forces, but no new arms deals were announced. He gave no details on the proposed joint patrols.

Iran, a member of oil cartel Opec, denies accusations by the Gulf peers that it is smuggling weapons to Yemen, where the GCC countries are involved in a military campaign against the Tehran-allied Houthi movement.

The GCC’s mostly Sunni Muslim monarchies, with the exception of Oman, see Shi’ite Iran as a threat to their security and say its involvement in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen has fuelled conflict and deepened sectarian divisions.

Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defence Minister Prince Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud earlier said that Gulf states and the US must “work together to confront these challenges”, the kingdom’s state news agency SPA reported.

The Carter’s meeting took place hours ahead of the President Barak Obama’s arrival in Saudi Arabia. The president will meet Saudi King Salman before a summit with all the leaders of the GCC in Riyadh on Thursday, with shared security and defence issues likely to dominate the agenda.

Obama and Carter will seek to reassure the Gulf states that Washington still shares their interests and will continue to ensure their security, Reuters cited US officials as saying.

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