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Region threatened as Gulf monarchs gather for summit

Updated: 2015-05-04 10:29
By Agence France-Presse in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia,and Dubai (China Daily)

Solutions will be hard to find on Tuesday when Gulf monarchs hold their annual summit in a region threatened by jihadists and a war in Yemen that has raised tensions with Iran.

The six Sunni-dominated Gulf Cooperation Council states will gather in the Saudi capital, still worried that Shiite Iran might be able to develop an atomic bomb. Their concerns persist despite assurances from Washington and Paris that an international accord being negotiated aims to prevent that.

A framework agreement between Teheran and the United States, France and other major powers limits Iran's nuclear capabilities in return for a lifting of international sanctions.

French President Francois Hollande will attend the summit, making him the first Western leader to do so since the bloc's creation in 1981. Hollande will join the oil-and gas-rich region's rulers from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The visit will reinforce a deepening of Saudi ties with major powers beyond the United States. They will gather just over a week before the Gulf leaders travel to traditional ally Washington. President Barack Obama called that meeting in a bid to allay their fears over any US rapprochement with Iran, and to brainstorm on reducing regional conflicts.

Most Gulf states support a US-led coalition bombing jihadists from the Islamic State extremist group in Syria and Iraq since last year.

IS has seized swathes of territory in the two countries, and has threatened Saudi Arabia.

Last month, the kingdom said nearly 100 jihadists, mostly linked to IS, have been arrested and several plots foiled, including one against the US embassy.

Riyadh organized its own coalition in an effort to stop the advance of Iran-backed Shiite rebels in neighboring Yemen.

But pro-and anti-government forces continue battling in Yemen's second city of Aden, aid groups are warning over the humanitarian situation, and al-Qaida has seized territory in the resulting chaos.

Riyadh feared the Houthi rebels would take over all of Yemen and move it into Iran's orbit.

Oman is the only Gulf state outside of the coalition which has bombed the rebels daily since March 26 to support the exiled government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

In a separate development, the Saudi-led coalition has been using US-supplied cluster bombs in its air campaign against Yemeni rebels, Human Rights Watch said on Sunday, warning of the long-term dangers to civilians.


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