GCC police team up to create regional force

Analysts say escalating political tensions, crime spurs need for Gulf-wide approach

The GCC force is expected to include officers from across the region

The GCC force is expected to include officers from across the region

Police forces in the six GCC states are to team up under an agreement to create a regional agency and a permanent security committee as political upheaval threatens the wider Middle East.

Interior ministers from the Gulf nations also pledged to review the security agreements between the six states as concern over the purpose of Iran’s nuclear programme grows.

“Security chiefs of member countries will meet soon to complete studies on all aspects of the force” the ministers said in a statement following the Abu Dhabi meeting. “We should also renew security agreements among the GCC member countries to cope with new developments.”

A number of Gulf states have tightened their border security in the wake of the Arab Spring revolts that toppled rulers in Tunisia and Egypt, and caused widespread unrest in Bahrain.

Analysts said a GCC-wide police force would likely be tasked with containing the fallout from the Arab Spring unrest and cracking down on organised crime, which could increase as a result of the regional upheaval.

“The GCC states want a sustainable organised structure [to tackle crime], especially on a police level,” said Mustafa Alani, director for security and defence at the Gulf Research Centre.

“Mainly we’re talking about organised criminal activities. The major challenges are drug smuggling, human trafficking, money laundering, counterfeit trade and arms smuggling.

“These things are increasing remarkably because of the high numbers of foreigners and because of globalisation – criminals have found a new place where they can practice their activities.”

The GCC is particularly vulnerable because of its position as a transit point for goods into Asia and Europe, he added.

The region has been on high alert in the wake of regional uprisings, with a number of Gulf states clamping down on visa requirements for certain nationalities.

Kuwait in May barred nationals from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and Afghanistan from entering the country over fears political instability in those nations could pose a risk to its security.

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