OPINION: Unity is often a rare commodity among Persian Gulf Arab states but last weekend they closed ranks in urging the United Nations to continue with its Iran arms embargo, which is seen as posing a threat to the other regional oil and gas producers.
While the action from the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is laudable, its logic is questionable and bound to further infuriate Tehran.
The GCC is comprised of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Tehran’s clerical leadership has rarely had cordial relations with the UAE and arch-enemy Saudi Arabia but has traditionally kept close ties with Qatar and Oman.
The sparsely-populated Gulf Arab states are vulnerable to possible Iranian attacks but the Islamic Republic does not need to resort to sophisticated weaponry to achieve its military aims in the event of conflict with its smaller neighbours.
Even GCC heavyweight Saudi Arabia is hardly a military match for Iran, due in part to the latter's population exceeding that of the GCC combined.
This was on display last September when relatively low-tech Iranian drones and missiles slammed into the heart of Saudi oil processing operations, knocking out half of the kingdom’s production of almost 12 million barrels per day.
Riyadh did not retaliate, fearing further fury from Iran, which sees Saudi Arabia and its allies as a party to US sanctions that have reduced its oil exports to a trickle.
Before the attack on the Saudi facilities, Iran targeted oil tankers belonging to the UAE, which later softened its usually hostile Iranian stance and engaged in diplomacy to ease tensions.
The GCC partners last weekend alleged that Iran had “not ceased or desisted from armed interventions in neighbouring countries, directly and through organisations and movements armed and trained by Iran".
Their move appears to be an expression of solidarity with the US, which is also seeking the extension of the arms embargo due to expire in October.
It is bound to further distance the GCC partners from Iran, with a negative impact on regional stability.
(This is an Upstream opinion article.)