Gulf states condemn Iran’s threats to UAE over its normalization with Israel

Six-member Gulf Cooperation Council says Tehran must adhere to United Nations charter and not interfere in the domestic affairs of other countries

Illustrative: The 40th Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 10, 2019. (Amr Nabil/AP)
Illustrative: The 40th Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 10, 2019. (Amr Nabil/AP)

The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council on Sunday condemned Iran for threatening the United Arab Emirates after it announced normalization of ties with Israel.

Council Secretary-General Nayef Falah M. Al-Hajraf said in a statement “Iran must adhere to the UN Charter and refrain from interfering in the domestic affairs of other nations,” the Arab News website reported.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday that the UAE had made a “huge mistake” by taking steps toward normalization with Israel, and now faced “a dangerous future.

“[The UAE] better be mindful. They have committed a huge mistake, a treacherous act. We hope they will realize this and abandon this wrong path,” Rouhani said.

Screen capture from video of Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary-General Nayef Falah M. Al-Hajraf. (YouTube)

For its part, Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps claimed that the deal would accelerate Israel’s demise.

The UAE’s foreign ministry said Sunday it had summoned Iran’s charge d’affaires in the country for a dressing down over Tehran’s threats.

The Gulf Cooperation Council members are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Al-Hajraf is a former Kuwaiti foreign minister, though Kuwaiti officials on Sunday rejected the possibility of normalizing ties with Israel, telling a local newspaper that despite warming ties between the Gulf states and Jerusalem, the county had no interest in changing its longstanding regional policies.

Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s biggest economy, has maintained a conspicuous silence over the deal, but local officials have hinted that Riyadh is unlikely to immediately follow in the footsteps of its principal regional ally. Nonetheless, analysts say the deal could cause Saudi Arabia to deepen its furtive relations with the Jewish state.

The UAE is the first Gulf Arab state to open diplomatic relations with Israel and only the third Arab nation to establish normalized relations with Israel, Iran’s regional archenemy. As part of the US-brokered deal, Israel agreed to put off the annexation of West Bank territory sought by the Palestinians for their future state.

The UAE presented its controversial decision as a way of encouraging peace efforts and taking Israel’s planned annexation of parts of the West Bank off the table. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu swiftly pushed back, insisting the pause in annexation was “temporary.”

US President Donald Trump has presented the US-brokered agreement as a major diplomatic achievement and said he expects more Arab and Muslim countries to follow suit. Israel has quietly cultivated ties with the UAE and other Gulf countries for several years as they have confronted a shared enemy in Iran.

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