Gulf Arab armies linked by unified telecoms network
The armies of the six Gulf Arab monarchies were linked up in a unified telecommunications network for the first time Tuesday, February 27, the Qatari news agency QNA reported. The network, built by Sweden's Ericsson at a cost of $70 million, was inaugurated at an air base in Qatar, QNA said.
Qatar's army chief-of-staff, General Hamad bin Ali Al-Attiya, and joint secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), General Faleh Al-Shatty, were at the launch, the agency added.
The network, under construction since 1998, will allow real-time data exchange among GCC armies to exchange telecommunications data and coordinate operations.
The GCC signed a joint defense pact in December binding member states to defend one another against any outside threat, and is currently examining a radar network project costing $88 million.
Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates already have a joint defense force called Peninsula Shield, and their chiefs-of-staff are considering raising its size from 5,000 to 22,000 troops
The force, created in 1986, is headquartered at Hafar Al-Baten, in northeastern Saudi Arabia, but it did not intervene when Iraq overran Kuwait in a few hours in 1990.
The oil-rich Gulf monarchies have signed defense pacts with Western powers and have granted US and British forces military facilities to enforce the embargo and no-fly zones imposed on Iraq. — (AFP, Doha)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)