Senior officials of the United States and the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) convened their Working Group on Counterterrorism at the GCC’s headquarters in Riyadh on February 16. The Working Group affirmed the longstanding partnership between the United States and the member states of the GCC and our shared determination to contribute to regional security and stability, under the framework of the GCC-U.S. Strategic Partnership.
The United States and GCC member states discussed the range of terrorist threats to the Middle East and other regions, including South and Central Asia and Africa. The participants affirmed that terrorism should not be associated with any religion, nationality, or ethnic group. The participants reaffirmed the November 2021 and February 2023 statements of the U.S.-GCC Iran Working Group, again condemning Iran’s malign behavior through proxies such as Hizballah, as well as those in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Iran has used Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and supported terrorist and other armed groups to conduct hundreds of attacks in the region. The United States and GCC member states affirmed that Iran’s support to terrorist militias and armed groups across the region and use of unmanned aircraft systems threatens regional security and stability. Participants took note that the United States and GCC members have already affirmed that diplomacy remains the preferred way to address Iran’s destabilizing policies.
The United States and GCC member states affirmed that to reduce the risk of ISIS/Da’esh re-emerging in Syria and Iraq, more joint effort should be encouraged globally to ensure that a practical and sustainable solution is achieved for individuals currently located in camps and detention facilities in northeast Syria that could include safe repatriation, rehabilitation, reintegration, and prosecution, as appropriate. The United States and GCC member states underlined the need for civilian-led efforts, including stabilization assistance, countering terrorist financing, and countering ISIS narratives, in Syria and Iraq to continue. The United States and GCC member states also emphasized the need to continue efforts to enhance the Government of Iraq’s counterterrorism capabilities and reforms.
The United States and GCC member states stressed the importance of strengthening joint action to collectively address terrorist threats by countering the financing of terrorism and strengthening resilience in the face of terrorism. They further decided to hold subsequent meetings of this working group to discuss these and other issues.
The United States and GCC member states welcomed opportunities for further cooperation under the auspices of the Global Coalition to Defeat-ISIS, including upcoming working and focus group meetings on countering ISIS financing and ISIS messaging, deterring foreign terrorist fighter travel, and implementing stabilization lines of effort in Syria and Iraq.