Security |

GCC states affirm their security partnership

By Hussein Ibrahim in Kuwait

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Gulf defence ministers gather in Muscat, Oman on October 31st for the 16th meeting of the GCC's Joint Defence Council. [Photo courtesy of Oman News Agency]

Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) member states are working together to maintain regional security and freedom of navigation in the Arabian Gulf, military experts told Al-Mashareq.

Oman hosted the 16th meeting of the GCC's Joint Defence Council in Muscat on October 31st, where defence ministers stressed the importance of protecting freedom of international maritime navigation in the Arabian Gulf.

GCC secretary-general Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani noted the high level of readiness among the militaries of member states, and praised the level of co-operation between GCC armed forces and those of allied countries.

"Iran's hostile actions against GCC countries, and its use of its military arms to destabilise security and stability in many countries, are an open secret," said Col. Saadan al-Ghanem, who is retired from the Kuwaiti forces.

GCC defence ministers are working to stave off the Iranian threat and "block any attempt to usurp the region's wealth" to achieve economic, sectarian or geopolitical aims, he told Al-Mashareq.

The continuous upgrading of GCC armies and the joint exercises conducted with international partners aim to enhance regional security and ensure the flow of oil and gas to international markets, he said.

At the same time, GCC states are working to pursue political solutions to resolve crises in the region, with a current focus on the Yemen war, al-Ghanem added.

Positive policy

Oman is working with other GCC states to "protect the freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz and the flow of oil and gas shipments to international markets", strategy analyst Khalfan bin Rashed told Al-Mashareq.

"To this end, it is using its relations with Iran to ensure that threats do not escalate" and the situation does not become further inflamed, he said.

Oman seeks a "comprehensive and just peace, and to prevent any interference in the internal affairs of countries", he added, noting that this is a long-held policy embraced by Sultan Qaboos.

Oman would never allow the Strait of Hormuz to be closed, he said, as the sultanate honours international commitments and is fulfilling its duty to maintain security in the region.

GCC states are "cognisant of the importance of Oman's role, which has their full backing and support", he added.

Energy security

"Saudi Arabia bears a huge burden in defending Gulf security against the blatant Iranian interferences in the region," said Maj. Gen. Mohammed al-Juhani, who is retired from the Saudi military.

"It was not long ago that oil and gas facilities in the kingdom were targeted," he told Al-Mashareq, so the Saudi military has been working with the armed forces of GCC states "to strengthen energy security in the region and protect shipping".

"At the same time, we are working with the US, our biggest security partner in the region," he added, on both land and sea.

''We do not want war," he said. "We want development, prosperity and stability for all our peoples."

"Everyone is a loser in wars," he added. "The innocents pay the price, while the hired hands and mercenaries are adept at escaping and moving from one region to another to ignite crises and wars without the slightest compunction."

"We are on the lookout for them."

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