This past week, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) held the 35th Ministerial and Heads of State Summit in Doha, Qatar. This meeting was one of its most important gatherings ever:the results were impressive in terms of unity in the face of unprecedented threats and security issues facing the GCC. The wide-ranging results showed that much of the bickering between member states may finally be in the past. At the same time, however, new issues are cropping up that illustrate the difficulties, old and new, that lay ahead.
In the weeks leading to the GCC meeting, numerous press reports stated that a joint military force with headquarters in Riyadh would be announced. Although there was not much fanfare about the joint military force at the actual meeting, the Dir Al-Jazeera (Peninsula Shield) joint military force established in 1982 and headquartered in Saudi Arabia appears to be strengthened with 4000 land-based forces that include all of the GCC states. This will bolster further the ability of the GCC states to conduct joint and bi-lateral exercises.
According to an Arab official, the ability of GCC states to coordinate at U.S CENTCOM FORWARD in Jordan played a role in terms of further coordination within and development of the Dir Al-Jazeera. At US CENTCOM FORWARD, several GCC members including those at “each other’s throats” recently have been working on policy planning ever since US CENTCOM FORWARD took place However, more work is needed on the Dir Al-Jazeera force in order to give the armed contingent teeth.
A united front
The GCC is witnessing one of the most critical periods in its historyDr. Theodore Karasik