By Courtney Trenwith
Increasing regional maritime threats have led the six members states to set up a joint force, starting with a joint naval exercise in UAE waters this week
The six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) state members have agreed to set up a joint maritime security force and enhance cooperation in naval operations in response to increasing regional maritime conflict, according to Saudi media.
A joint naval exercise would begin in the UAE on Monday and run until Thursday as a first step towards a unified command system to be used in emergencies, a GCC statement quoted by Saudi media said.
The exercise would help raise the level of GCC’s preparedness, combat efficiency and cooperation.
GCC secretary general Abdul Latif Al Zayani in November called for the establishment of a joint naval force in the region to counter escalating maritime threats.
He said maritime threats in the Gulf had taken new forms and new dimensions, making it imperative for GCC states to review their naval procedures, UAE state news agency WAM reported at the time.
Kuwaiti defence official Major General Ahmed Yousif Al Mulla said in a recent report, “threats to regional waters over the past year have extended from the Strait of Hormuz further south to the Bab Al Mandal gateway in Yemen and north to the Red Sea”, Arab News said.
“The new force is expected to be formed within coming months”, Al Mulla reportedly said.
The six-member GCC bloc, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman, also has agreed to create a common police force and counterterrorism body.