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22 Dec, 2013 04:09

Joint Gulf military command to control 100,000 combat troops

Joint Gulf military command to control 100,000 combat troops

A joint Gulf military command will have a force of around 100,000 strong, Saudi Arabia has announced, as the Kingdom tries to secure its force in the region, following a rift with the US over Washington’s rapprochement with Iran, Riyadh’s regional rival.

“There will be a unified command of around 100,000 members, God willing. I hope it will happen soon, and the National Guard is ready for anything that is asked of it,” Minister of the National Guard Prince Miteb Bin Abdullah announced, Saudi Press Agency reports.

The prince also stressed the need for unity among the Gulf’s monarchs to display power in the region, claiming that the new force will boost security, defense and the economy of the member states.

Last week Saudi Arabia and its Gulf neighbors, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar, at the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Kuwait City, agreed to create a joint military command and tasked the Joint Defense Council to implement measures.

The GCC also agreed to create a Gulf Academy for Strategic and Security Studies to be hosted in the United Arab Emirates, this would include a shared police force. Ratifying the draft resolution for establishing the police force, the GCC Supreme Council stressed that “the new body will boost security and help expand anti-terror co-operation and co-ordination among member states.”

Earlier in December, GCC states approved the founding of a unified military command structure to tackle threats to the Gulf region. GCC Joint Military Command will be based in Riyadh.

Last week’s communiqué said that the decision was taken as “part of the steps and efforts aiming to reinforce the security and stability of the GCC countries and to establish a common military system to achieve collective security.”

Saudi special forces snipers (Reuters/Fahad Shadeed)

The current security framework in the region, which heavily relies on the US fifth fleet stationed in Bahrain, is based on the Peninsula Shield force of around 30,000, created in 1982.

On Thursday, the kingdom’s ambassador to London, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, said that the Western approach to the region was a “dangerous gamble” that jeopardizes stability in the Middle East, hinting that Riyadh intends to pursue an independent policy in the Arab world after the US resorted to diplomatic solutions to the Syrian and Iranian crises.

“This means the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has no choice but to become more assertive in international affairs: more determined than ever to stand up for the genuine stability our region so desperately needs,” Abdulaziz wrote New York Times commentary.

Last Sunday a former head of Saudi intelligence, Prince Turki al-Faisal, noted that Saudi Arabia felt isolated from the diplomatic negotiations with Iran.

“It is important for us to sit down at the same table,”
he said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. Speaking at the World Policy Conference in Monaco the same day he wondered: “How can you build trust when you keep secrets from what are supposed to be your closest allies?”

Responding to Saudi skepticism the State Department’s deputy spokesman said that the US and Saudi Arabia have a “long and close strategic partnership.”