US steps up defence ties with GCC

The representatives of the US and GCC member states convened in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia yesterday to enhance defence cooperation through defence working groups on Integrated Air and Missile Defence (IAMD) and Maritime Security….reports Asian Lite News

The United States is intensifying its defence cooperation with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to tackle what has been described as one of the region’s “most challenging periods in recent years,” the US Department of Defence has announced.

The representatives of the US and GCC member states convened in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia yesterday to enhance defence cooperation through defence working groups on Integrated Air and Missile Defence (IAMD) and Maritime Security.

This meeting follows a significant escalation in regional tensions, including a massive drone and ballistic missile strike by Iran on Israel and ongoing conflict in Gaza.

The meeting, chaired by GCC Assistant Secretary General for Military Affairs Major General Eisa Al Mohannadi and U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for the Middle East Daniel Shapiro, included representatives from all GCC countries and senior officials from U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), Joint Staff, Missile Defence Agency (MDA), and Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA).

In the IAMD Working Group, participants addressed the pressing air threats in the region, including missiles and unmanned aerial systems (UAS), and discussed multilateral strategies to counter these shared threats. The U.S. Department of Defence and CENTCOM presented plans to bolster and integrate regional air and missile defence and early warning systems.

Both the U.S. and GCC committed to prioritizing IAMD development and are preparing for a significant meeting for the GCC Early Warning Study later this summer, aiming to lay the groundwork for a comprehensive integrated defence system.

Assistant Secretary Shapiro stressed the increased importance of US-GCC defence dialogues, stating, “The US-GCC defence working groups are rooted in a strong US partnership with the GCC and our collective commitment to cooperating on regional security issues.”

He highlighted the decade-long collaboration aimed at addressing regional threats and crises, noting the US’s vested interest in deepening these partnerships.

The meeting also emphasized the critical importance of maintaining freedom of navigation and adherence to international law in regional waters. Discussions included strategies to enhance information sharing, counter proliferation, and improve the efficiency of combined interdictions.

Highlighting the pervasive threats from Iran and its proxies, Shapiro condemned Yemen’s Houthi militia for its acts of terrorism in the Red Sea targeting civilian shipping.

The discussions were heavily influenced by the April 13 Iranian attack on Israel, which Shapiro described as a “watershed moment in the Middle East.” He underscored the necessity of integrating air and missile defences across the region, citing the successful defence against Iran’s attack as proof of the effectiveness of such cooperation.

“This attack demonstrated the real-world impact of our integrated air and missile defence efforts, showing that collaboration saves lives and prevents conflicts from escalating,” Shapiro said. He added that ironically, Iran’s aggression had inadvertently strengthened US-GCC cooperation on air and missile defence.

Looking ahead, Shapiro indicated that Washington’s Gulf partners are committed to increasing integrated air and missile defence capabilities, aiming to establish a GCC-wide air defence system. Additionally, US officials proposed joint military training to ensure operational coherence among the forces.

A senior US defence official, speaking anonymously, noted that Gulf partners are “laser-focused” on understanding the Iranian threat, Arab News reported.

He remarked that the nature of the conversation with the GCC in May 2024 is markedly different from any prior to the April 13 attack, reflecting the heightened urgency and collaboration in the wake of recent events, it was reported.

During the meetings, US and Gulf officials discussed enhancing information sharing, countering proliferation, and improving the effectiveness of combined interdictions against illegal maritime shipments to the Houthis.

Both working groups underscored the strategic importance of continued collaboration, building on the foundations laid during the 2023 discussions.

The US and GCC states reaffirmed their commitment to ongoing periodic meetings to further strengthen their cooperation in IAMD and Maritime Security.

ALSO READ: UAE President receives World Bank President

[soliloquy id="31272"]
[soliloquy id="31269"]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *