February 15, 2023 | Flash Brief

Eyeing Tehran, U.S. and GCC Partners Seek to Develop Regional Security Architecture

February 15, 2023 | Flash Brief

Eyeing Tehran, U.S. and GCC Partners Seek to Develop Regional Security Architecture

Latest Developments 

Senior American government officials traveled to Saudi Arabia this week to participate in U.S.-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Working Group meetings focusing on integrated air and missile defense, maritime security, Iran, and counterterrorism. The Biden administration seeks to signal its continued commitment to the region and advance longstanding efforts to develop a Middle East security architecture. “There has been no other moment in time in which the prospect for meaningful integration is more real than today,” U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Dana Stroul said on Monday. That is because of a “shared assessment between the United States and the GCC of the threats that face us,” primarily those from Iran and its terror proxies.

Expert Analysis

“A more unified GCC working with the United States to build integrated air and missile defense and maritime security capabilities is good news for regional security and a nightmare for the Islamic Republic of Iran, which seeks to divide, weaken, destabilize, and attack its neighbors. As threats from Tehran only grow, the need for a combined Arab-American-Israeli security architecture becomes more urgent.”
Bradley Bowman, Senior Director of FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power

Toward a Regional Security Architecture

The GCC consists of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The fact that the GCC is headquartered in Riyadh reflects the kingdom’s leadership role in the organization and in the region. While there are perennial rivalries and challenges among GCC countries that have at times exacerbated much-needed efforts to strengthen security cooperation, there is a widespread and growing concern among them regarding Tehran’s systematic campaign of terrorism and subversion. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, for example, have been targeted by missiles launched by the Houthis, Tehran’s terror proxy in Yemen. Stroul noted on Monday that “we have seen no change in Iranian willingness or activities to transfer weapons to the Houthis.”

Politics and Progress

The meetings this week in Riyadh were originally scheduled for last October but were reportedly canceled by the Biden administration in protest of the Saudi decision to decrease oil production. When asked about the rescheduled meetings, Stroul emphasized that “we’re here now and the GCC asked us to come this week.” Developing combined capabilities to quickly detect and effectively defeat a range of common threats will require both political will in the respective capitals and common technology and systems that convey information quickly and protect against cyber threats.

These efforts can better secure the common national security interests of each country involved. For that reason, Iran no doubt hopes that domestic politics will prevent the United States and GCC countries from taking concrete steps to develop a Middle East regional security architecture.

Related Analysis

To Stop Iran’s Proxy Terrorists, Stop Iran,” by Bradley Bowman, Joe Truzman, and Ryan Brobst

Arsenal: Assessing the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Ballistic Missile Program,” by Behnam Ben Taleblu


Gulf States Iran Iran Global Threat Network Israel Military and Political Power U.S. Defense Policy and Strategy