The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council has gained greater strength and integration during the past three decades and is now in a better position to protect the region’s security and stability, its Secretary-General Dr. Abdullatif Al-Zayani said yesterday.
Addressing an Arab Gulf security conference, he said: “The GCC has become more powerful than anytime before. After three decades of achievements, the GCC countries still speak in one language on most regional and international issues. It also plays an important role in settling regional conflicts.”
He said the GCC leaders are deeply concerned with the challenges facing the six-member group. “The GCC considers that any attack on a member country as an attack on all,” Al-Zayani said, adding that such attacks should be dealt with greater coordination to protect the security and stability of the sensitive region.
Spelling out the challenges, the GCC chief said they include Israel’s occupation of Arab territories with force despite UN resolutions, and Tehran’s interference in the internal matters of member countries, its continued occupation of UAE islands, its insinuations to use power and expand its influence in the region.
He stressed the need for strengthening GCC’s cyber security as part of its efforts to combat terrorism and violence. Global information network is now exploited for smuggling, triggering riots and carrying out terrorist operations. “Gulf security is essential to promote world peace and stability,” he added.
Speaking at the conference, which was organized by the Bahrain Center for Strategic, International and Energy Studies (DERASAT) in association with the Royal British Institute for Defense and Security Studies (RUSI), DERASAT’s Chairman Dr. Mohammed Abdul Ghaffar commended the initiative taken by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to transform GCC into a Gulf Union, saying it was a strategic move.
Abdul Ghaffar, who is adviser to King Hamad on diplomatic affairs, said the people of GCC would give every support to their leaderships to strengthen the group to confront challenges. He called for more efforts by member countries to develop human resources and bring about economic and educational reforms.
Bahrain’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa also spoke. He said Iran was feeding ideological extremism in the region in order to create division and instability. He denounced the move to exploit religious teachings for political gains. He also referred to the misinformation campaign against GCC states, adding that it should be confronted by spreading correct information with the support of effective media organizations.
The conference will discuss three important issues pertaining to current events and their repercussions in the region including security arrangements between the US, UK and the GCC countries, Iran’s nuclear dossier, political unrest in the region in addition to issues of newly-emerging political Islam currents in the aftermath of the so-called Arab Spring.
Meanwhile, a meeting of GCC water and electricity ministers has approved a study on linking the member states water networks as well as the GCC water strategy. “I am confident that GCC water network will become a reality like the GCC power grid,” said Water and Electricity Minister Abdullah Al-Hussayen. He emphasized the need to diversify sources of water as the GCC cannot depend on desalination of seawater alone because of the possibility of pollution of seawater.