U.S., Saudis and Emiratis to launch security forum to counter Iran

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are set to launch a monthly security forum to counter Iran’s “malign influence,” Arab News reported on Tuesday.

The report came as Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman set off on his multi-tour city of the United States, where he has been warmly received by a U.S. administration that will “look to broker multibillion-dollar commercial deals” with its Saudi allies, according to Arab News.

U.S. President Donald Trump has discussed his wish to reverse his predecessor Barack Obama’s 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, Saudi Arabia’s arch rivals in the Middle East. Trump’s recent appointment as Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, is also known for his hawkish stance on Iran and opposition to the deal.

“At a time of great change, both in Washington and in the Middle East, the announced trilateral security group signals US determination to coordinate more effectively with its closest Arab allies,” Firas Maksad, director of the Arabia Foundation in Washington, told Arab News.

“This is especially timely given Trump's anticipated decision on the Iran nuclear deal in May, and ongoing efforts to counter that country's expansionism in various middle easter theaters,” he added.

The initiative may also have repercussions for Turkey, which has fallen out of favour with Saudi Arabia and its close Arab allies due to its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, which is outlawed in several regional states including Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Turkey also raised these states’ ire when it took sides with Iran and stepped in to help Qatar resist an ongoing blockade by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt.