Bahrain Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa delivered the final statement of the Gulf Cooperation Council Foreign Ministers Session held in Riyadh. He noted that during this meeting the issue of relations between Gulf countries and Iran was discussed and weighed.
Over the past few years, evidence of Iran’s meddling throughout the region has become apparent. Iran is active in Syria, backing Assad’s government, along with Russia; in Iraq, Iran is active with ISIL, which is negatively impacting Iraq’s ability to maintain peace within their borders; and in Yemen, where Iran is providing weapons and troop training to members of the rebel Houthis.
While the Houthis may be trying to redefine the government in Yemen, Iran sees another hot bed of instability, where they can sow seeds of discord and gain another area of Shiite control in the region.
Gulf States have not closed their doors to improving relations with Iran, said Khalifa. However, Tehran continues to support militias in the region and there are deep divisions in positions with Iran, making it difficult to normalize relations.
Additionally, Iran has been seen as supporting a variety of terrorist organizations, which also negatively impact its neighbors in the region. While the Houthis might believe they were getting assistance in their fight, they have opened the door to Iran and it will be hard to kick them back out again.
Bahrain’s top diplomat added the Houthis are from Yemen, yet the problem is they are in contact with people outside of their borders.
The impact of Iran in the region is a source of frustration, as there seems to be no clear cut way to address Iran’s influence or to even check it.