Arab Gulf states leaders are meeting in Qatar for a summit to deliberate plans for a unified military command and the establishment of a regional police force, modeled after Interpol, to counter Iran and various jihadist groups, Al Jazeera reports.
The Sunni GCC states loath the Shiite Iran, and have been fighting several proxy wars against it, occasionally with Israeli input.
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And the Saudis and the UAE consider the Brotherhood a terrorist organization, even though the Brotherhood is as Suni as they come.
Saudi Arabia has been fearing for its life since September, when Iranian-backed Shiite rebels took over the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, surrounding the Saudis with hostile and well armed armies.
“Yemen is an existential threat. What happened in Yemen determines the fate of the GCC. It is the most populous country in the Arabian Peninsula and the poorest of them, ” Joseph Keshishian, an author on Middle East affairs and a columnist with Gulf News, told Al Jazeera.
And, like the rest of us, GCC countries are also alarmed by the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which is building a new caliphate right outside their door.
ISIS views the Gulf’s royal families as illegitimate rulers of Muslims, according to Al Jazeera. Whch would have been less frightening to those royals had their own youth not been enlisting in droves in ISIS and other jihadist outfits.
The annual meeting of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), staring today in Doha, follows an eight-month diplomatic squabble within the bloc, between Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain against Qatar, whom they accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and their subversive offshoots, including Hamas.
Three weeks ago, the GCC’s six foreign ministers met in the Saudi capital Riyadh, to make peace among themselves and to prepare today’s one-day summit.
“The fact that the meeting is taking place is in itself a success. For the Gulf leaders to come to Qatar after all that happened is a big event, ” Abdul Aziz Aluwaisheg, assistant secretary-general of the GCC, told Al Jazeera.
According to Al Jazeera, Aluwaisheg said the summit focuses on boosting security cooperation and adopting a multi-layered strategy in “the fight against terrorism.”
And by terrorism they mean Muslim Brothers and jihadists.
The plan is to establish a military joint command for the Gulf, based in Riyadh. And alongside the new army, they plan to revive and vitalize the already existing but not very serious regional Interpol, the GCC-POL, which Al Jazerra describes as a UAE-based law enforcement agency for sharing intelligence and dealing with organized crime.
“The military command will allow the GCC to deal better with outside threats, especially from Iran, while the GCC-POL was formed to share information to combat terrorist organisations, ” Anwar Ishqi, a former Lieutenant in the Saudi army and the director of the Middle East Centre for Strategic and Legal Studies in Jeddah, told Al Jazeera.
Professor Shamlan al-Issa of Kuwait University told Al Jazeera: “The threat from terrorist groups is so overstated. The leaders of the GCC focus so much on security collaboration that it has become an obsession. How is an ordinary Kuwaiti, or Qatari or Bahraini or Saudi benefiting from the GCC?”
“Why do not they ease trade and investment restrictions, allow for freedom of movement, and share cultural and educational projects?” Professor al-Issa wondered.