Kuwaiti Top Officer Calls for Unified GCC Defense Policy against Iraq, Iran
The Gulf Cooperation Council’s six member states must get more serious about combining their small forces into an integrated army for effective defense against potential threats from Iran and Iraq, a top Kuwaiti officer was quoted in reports as saying Tuesday.
First, GCC members Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates must formulate “a combined political policy” about defense and relations with Iran and Iraq, the Gulf region’s powerhouses, said Maj. Gen. Fahed Al Amir, deputy chief of staff of Kuwait’s armed forces, was quoted by The Associated Press as saying.
“There is no combined political policy. Each GCC country is pursuing its own relations with the big two in the region, Iran and Iraq,” he told a meeting on the sidelines of the International Defense Exhibition in the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi.
He said there was also “no joint defense doctrine” among the GCC states.
Middle East News Line quoted the official as stressing that the GCC must first define threats and priorities for the six-member alliance to ensure unified defense efforts.
Al Amir said the GCC has a long way to go before the council can achieve regional defense.
Addressing the Gulf Defense Conference in Abu Dhabi, Al Amir warned that Arabs in the region must prepare for a continued and growing threat from Iran and Iraq.
The deputy chief raised the prospect of another war between Iran and Iraq, which he said will harm Gulf security. But Iraq was placed as a greater threat.
"The threat to the Gulf is clear from Iraq," Al Amir said. "The threat from Iraq continues."
Al Amir said the GCC must move from words to action regarding Gulf defense. This means that the GCC must replace its appeals for Western security with regional defense programs
Al Amir said that a January 1st. agreement signed in Bahrain called for military co-operation among the GCC states, so that a threat against any one would be regarded as a threat against all other members. “We believe the steps (taken) are still below the required ambitions,” he said.
The January agreement calls for the strengthening of the GCC’s 5,000-strong joint ground force that was created in 1986 and is based in Saudi Arabia.
The states took the first real steps toward integration when their command, control and radar systems were linked on March 6, said the AP.
Iraq has repeatedly rejected accusations that it is a threat to its neighbors. Except for Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, Iraqi relations with the Gulf monarchies have remarkably improved after they were severed following its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
Also, Iran’s relations with its Gulf neighbors have improved since reformist President Mohammad Khatami rose to power in 1997 – Albawaba.com