GCC countries are in the final stages of unifying their land, air and sea forces as part of the union’s integrated military deterrent known as the Peninsula Shield Force.
This was revealed by GCC Secretary General Dr Abdullatif Al Zayani at a session of the Manama Dialogue yesterday entitled Collective Approaches to Current Security Issues.
“We are finalising the structure of a unified command for the land, air and sea components to integrate for all GCC countries,” he said, adding that the “door would always be open” to collaboration with the GCC’s neighbour across the Gulf.
“We would like to engage with Iran as this in the best interests of the GCC, but it should take steps regarding ending the occupation of three UAE islands and stopping Hizbollah forces in Syria.
Dr Al Zayani also warned that Yemen, which has been rocked by unrest over the past few years, was on the “brink of a disaster” with “influential parties” banking on instability there.
Meanwhile, UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the Middle East in a speech he delivered at the session.
“Our friends and our enemies must know we have the political will to act, and to use all the forces at our disposal,” he said.
“We can act and we will act, when we need to, just as our friends in the Gulf have done – and we will use whichever of our forces are most appropriate.”
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird also spoke about the importance of expanding his country’s defence presence in Bahrain and other GCC states.
“I am proud that Canada is standing shoulder-to-shoulder with many others in the fight against extremism, terrorism and sectarianism,” he said.
“We are fighting the Islamic State not just through military support, but by working with regional partners like our hosts Bahrain, to stem the flow of terrorist financing and foreign fighters.”