Gulf nations to create joint military command

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab neighbors wrapped up a summit meeting in Kuwait on Wednesday by agreeing to establish a joint military command, paving the way for tighter security coordination even as their regional rival Iran pursues outreach efforts in the wake of its interim nuclear deal.

The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council also agreed to lay the foundations for a joint Gulf police force and a strategic studies academy, according to a summary of the group’s closing statement carried by the official Kuwait News Agency.

Taken together, the initiatives suggest that the U.S.-allied Gulf states are seeking to do more to ensure their collective security amid the prospect of warmer relations between Iran and the West. The Islamic Republic agreed last month to freeze parts of its nuclear program in exchange for some relief from Western economic sanctions.

Many in the Gulf remain wary of Tehran’s intentions. Saudi Arabia in particular sees a stronger Iran as a threat to its own influence, and it and other Gulf states are major backers of the rebels fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose government is backed by Iran.

The summit’s closing statement said a joint defense council would “take necessary measures to put this agreement into effect,” while the joint police force “will boost security and help expand security and anti-terror cooperation and coordination among member states,” according to the Kuwaiti news agency.

The GCC includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

Full article: Gulf nations to create joint military command (The New Zealand Herald)

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