GCC confidence-building initiatives need of the hour

ABU DHABI — The Arabian Gulf countries are of great importance in the world due to their sensitive location and their control of two-thirds of the world’s energy which is essential for global economic development.

By A Staff Reporter

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Published: Wed 7 Mar 2007, 8:46 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 3:53 AM

This was stated by Brigadier Ahmad Al Rahmani, Operations Director, Kuwait Armed Force, while speaking on behalf of Fahad Ahmad Al Amir, Chief of Staff, Kuwait Armed Force, on the second day of the Arabian Gulf Security Conference here yesterday. The conference is being held under the patronage of General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research.

He added that the Gulf states view security in a broader perspective. There is a close link between security and stability on one hand and development and progress on the other.

The Gulf countries are encountering a number of domestic challenges, the most important of which is the demographic imbalance, which is a major problem in these countries, hindering growth and giving rise to security, social, economic and political risks.

Other challenges relate to education. Development in the domain of education in the Gulf region occurs in quantitative, rather than qualitative terms. There is a huge gap between educational output and development requirements, he added.

He noted that in order to confront the internal and external challenges of the Gulf, the following steps must be taken.

First, Gulf countries should undertake confidence-building measures and agree on a protocol to protect sea routes in the Arabian Gulf, he said.

Secondly, GCC economic and monetary integration should be further developed. Also, increased levels of education and training and continuing development of GCC national human resources is imperative, he added.

Finally, the GCC states should support stability and security in Iraq and monitor the state of the Iraqi political process, he asserted.

David Mack, Acting President of the Middle East Institute, US, said at the conference that America has arguably not devoted enough attention to “soft power” tools such as diplomatic persuasion, cultural links and educational exchanges.

A regular political dialogue between the US and the GCC countries is essential, an objective that has sometimes been neglected by Washington although desired more by the regional countries, he said.

Also important are joint exercises which act as a forum for the exchange of expertise and experience. Rather than wait for new US initiatives, the GCC countries should consider developing their own joint initiatives as a way of influencing thinking in Washington, he added.

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