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Obama Administration Wins Gulf Support for Iran Deal

Obama Administration Wins Gulf Support for Iran Deal

Gulf Arab countries offered their support for the United States’ nuclear deal with Iran on Monday, an important diplomatic victory for President Barack Obama’s administration as it seeks to sell Congress on the merits of the agreement.

The expression of support came out of a meeting in Qatar of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a collective of oil-rich states, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain. The move further isolates Israel, America’s other Middle East ally, which has vocally opposed the Iran deal.

“This was the best option amongst other options in order to try to come up with a solution for the nuclear weapons of Iran through dialogue, and this came up as a result of the efforts exerted by the United States of America and its allies,” Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid al-Attiyah said at a press conference. Qatar currently enjoys the chairmanship of the GCC.

The Sunni-led governments, particularly Saudi Arabia, are fierce adversaries of the Shiite-dominated government in Tehran. However, the White House was worked diligently to reassure the Arab leaders that a deal is in every regional country’s best interest.

“Ministers agreed … that once fully implemented, the [nuclear deal] contributes to the region’s long-term security, including by preventing Iran from developing or acquiring a military nuclear capability,” said Secretary of State John Kerry, who attended the conference.

In April, Obama invited the leaders of the GCC to Washington for the most high-profile effort to sell the deal to allies, but no-shows from Saudi Arabia’s monarch, King Salman, and others raised doubts about Arab support for the deal.

The comments from the GCC may help combat Republican criticisms that the accord endangers U.S. allies in the Middle East. Congress is set to hold a vote on the deal in September. Though a majority in the House and Senate is likely to reject the deal, the White House is confident it will be able to sustain a veto on a resolution of disapproval.

Photo credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images