By Arab News
By Abdulateef Al-Mulhim*
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif was in Bahrain on Wednesday, Nov. 16, to witness the final exercise of the “Arabian Gulf Security One” tactical drill. This is one more step toward the consolidation of the military strength of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states.
On Tuesday, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman chaired the 15th Joint GCC Defense Council meeting in Riyadh, which was attended by the defense ministers of the GCC states. During the meeting the deputy crown prince called for greater GCC military cooperation. All these events point toward a greater urgency among the GCC states to close their ranks in view of the changing scenario in the wider region.
The GCC states — Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman — are the most prosperous, secure, stable and homogeneous states in the world. The GCC countries enjoy stability in an area known for its volatility. For many years, the Arabian Gulf states managed to deal with, and overcome, many challenges. After achieving great feats together, the people of the GCC states want to take the cooperation between their respective countries to a new level by forming the United Gulf States.
The region is facing many challenges and they should be countered with more plans for security as well as for more economic and political unity. The Gulf region is blessed with natural resources, which require protection from any military or terrorist threats. The “Arabian Gulf Security One” exercises held in Bahrain successfully achieved the desired results. Different forces showed professionalism in coordinating a variety of operations. The large number of personnel who participated in the exercise and the sophisticated equipment used in the drill showed the readiness and ability of the GCC to counter any threat coming from any country or any terrorist organization.
The exercise was one of the largest joint military drills ever held in the region. It was conducted on land, sea and in the air. Many security and military groups took part in the exercise, which involved tactical pre-emptive operations, command and control of security operations, support for quick operations and monitoring both internal and external threats.
The Arabian Gulf is one of the most important strategic areas in the world with some of the most massive industrial, desalination, petrochemical and energy infrastructures and installations. These installations require alert eyes and the exercise was aimed at beefing up the GCC’s security.
Saudi security forces showed mastery of the advanced equipment acquired to effectively fight terrorists and all sorts of enemies who want to spread violence in Saudi Arabia and the region. The exercise sent a message, loud and clear, to any outside threat.
The Gulf region is an area prone to conflicts and the Iranian role in the region is no longer a secret. Time and again, key regional players have warned Iran against interfering in the region. Unfortunately, Iran is hell bent on expanding its influence in the Arab world. However, the Gulf states are capable of countering any internal or external enemy but it is also the duty of Iran to show goodwill toward its neighbors and respect international laws.
Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries want peace in the region. The GCC states don’t want any conflicts with any country, as these countries are busy with plans to further strengthen their respective economies. And this is what has been happening over the past few days with continuous meetings and plans to take the GCC economies to new levels and new heights.
On Nov. 11, the first meeting of the GCC’s Commission of Economic and Development Affairs was held in Riyadh. Speaking on the occasion, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman stressed the need for forging unity. He called on the GCC states to work together to achieve their true potential and become the sixth largest economy in the world. Participants of the meeting recognized the importance of taking advantage of the natural resources and infrastructure to develop the Gulf’s economies along modern lines. The region needs to work as a bloc to deal with any economic fluctuations in the world. These efforts have been underway for a long time, but now it is time to expedite work toward coordination and integration among the GCC countries.
Economic development in the Gulf is very crucial to meet demands of the population. The Gulf states want to increase cooperation in all spheres of life and they are taking steps to achieve this goal. The GCC is moving in the right direction and is undoubtedly on the road to further progress.
*The writer is a retired commodore of the Royal Saudi Navy. He can be contacted at [email protected]