Gulf intervention in Yemen and the concept of deterrence
Gulf countries can establish a diverse force capable of defending themselves and their interests beyond Yemen
The painful loss of 45 Emirati, 10 Saudi and five Bahraini soldiers in Yemen last week confirmed the seriousness of the commitment to jointly confront the region’s dangerous circumstances, which are becoming more difficult for everyone. The importance of Gulf political and military cooperation is not only in winning wars, but more so to solidify the concept of deterrence. The cost is very high for the other party against a joint force.
There has been regional chaos since 2011. It will probably continue for the next few years, and result in more threats to the region's countries. This necessitates Gulf cooperation to prevent foreign interference and the spread of chaos.
Regional shifts and chaos are due to regional conflicts such as Iran versus the Gulf, but also due to internal conflicts such as the Muslim Brotherhood against the Egyptian state, Houthi rebels and former President Ali Abdullah Saleh against the legitimate government in Yemen, the Syrian opposition against the Assad regime, the Libyan government against armed opposition groups. Another factor is the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Al-Qaeda destabilizing Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and their neighbors.
The sanctity of borders has practically collapsed, and the generally accepted rules of engagement are no longer respected. Regional countries no longer have the choice of dissociating themselves. Their options have become few - their most notable one is to defend themselves, as with the Gulf states vis-a-vis Yemen, Turkey in regard to Syria, and Egypt in regard to Libya.
This is in addition to hedging against possible threats and wars, like Jordan is doing vis-a-vis Iraq and Syria. Another important factor is Iran's direct and major military interference - for the first time in its modern history, it is involved in two wars in Arab countries: Iraq and Syria. We must also not underestimate the importance of the humanitarian crises in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya.
Gulf countries can establish a diverse force capable of defending themselves and their interests beyond YemenAbdulrahman al-Rashed
Regional powers are engaged in regular and multiple battles. This exhausts states, armies, people and governments’ financial resources. The status quo highlights the importance of cooperation. Saudi-Emirati military and political cooperation has reached an unprecedented level in the history of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), reaching its peak in the war in Yemen.
With Qatar’s military involvement in Yemen, and Bahrain before it, Gulf countries can establish a diverse force capable of defending themselves and their interests beyond Yemen. This is the first time that there is cooperation without standing behind a superpower, such as the war to liberate Kuwait 25 years ago. Gulf countries’ power is also increasing in the diplomatic and economic realms.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Sept. 5, 2015.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.
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