President Barack Obama Monday ruled that a regional grouping of Gulf Arab states should be allowed to buy certain U.S. defense articles, deepening ties with a grouping wary of Iran’s regional influence.

Obama determined that U.S. restrictions on selling material for ballistic missile defense, maritime security and counter-terrorism operations should be lifted, opening the way to purchases by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

The initiative was announced by U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel earlier this month in the region and Obama’s determination is required before military sales can take place under U.S. law. […]