President Barack Obama talks on the phone with French President Francois Hollande from aboard Air Force One, Jan. 7, 2015..
(photo credit: OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE PHOTO / PETE SOUZA)
US President Barack Obama pledged to continue to work with US allies against Iran's worrisome involvement in the region, AFP reported on Tuesday
According to the White House, the president spoke with the ruler of Oman, Sultan Qaboos, on Monday and stated that he would stand "with Oman and other regional partners to address Iran's destabilizing activities in the region," even as the details of the nascent nuclear deal between Washington and Tehran continue to emerge.
The phone call with the Omani Sultan, the leader of a small country who shares the Arabian peninsula with larger oil-rich power-houses like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, was meant to assuage fears that the White House has softened its approach to the Islamic Republic's aggressive activities in the region, notably in Iraq and Yemen where Shi'ite militias are gradually becoming more influential.
The president's sentiment was reflected by the White House's Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, who on Tuesday, in an interview with
al-Arabiya outlined the importance of the Gulf Arab states to Washington's regional interests. Rhodes reiterated the White House's commitment to preventing the Islamic Republic's potential infringement on the sovereignty or security of GCC members.
"If you have a situation where one of our partners like Saudi Arabia is threatened from external aggression let’s say through Iran we will come to their defense,” Rhodes said.
Rhodes had taken an even more hawkish tone during an interview with Channel 2 news
on Monday in which he suggested that a military option to prevent Iran's strategic nuclearization was still a possibility.
“Certainly, if Iran violates the agreement, all options are on the table related to Iran, including military options,” Rhodes explained.
The US had recently completed its part in marathon talks with Iran concerning Tehran's nuclear program, which the former had considered a threat and the latter an energy necessity.
Rhodes called the agreement between the P5+1 countries and Iran a "good deal."
The White House's diplomatic blitz comes in light of its nuclear framework deal agreed to with Iran after marathon negotiations in Lausanne, Switzerland last week which has created mixed feelings among the US's traditional allies in the Middle East, including the Gulf monarchies and Israel.
While Saudi Arabia had officially welcomed the nuclear deal, seeing it as a preferable option against any military operation against the Islamic State, it has not shied away from engaging Iran's regional proxies on the battlefield.
For more than two weeks, 150,000 Saudi troops, as well as warplanes, in conjunction with the air-power of other GCC members and predominantly Sunni Arab states, have targeted the Shi'ite Houthi militia currently fighting for control of neighboring Yemen.