Implications of new ‘Silk Route’

Dubai: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s recent five-day trip to China after assuming power has been termed highly successful in Islamabad. Important deals were inked on this visit that is emblematic of Sharif’s economic policy aimed at fixing the country’s staggering economy. But more significant is the strategic development pertaining to the decision to develop the trade corridor between the two countries — a project with regional implications beyond South West Asia.

The much-publicised agreement to speed work on developing a 2,000-km trade corridor linking Gwadar Port on Pakistan’s Makran Coast to Kashgar in China’s Xingjian province has been called a “game changer” by Sharif. Continue reading

Persian Gulf states ‘unable to protect themselves’

Despite massive spending on Western weapons, the Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf are “unable to secure themselves from any external threat” — meaning Iran — and are running up huge public and foreign debt, a Gulf think tank says.

Omar al-Shehabi, director of the Gulf Center for Development Policies in Kuwait, said that even though the defense expenditure of the six Gulf Cooperation Council states is the highest in the world, exceeding the combined military spending of Israel and Britain, they still have to “rely on Western countries to provide military protection and security.” Continue reading

Bahrain MP calls for Gulf Army

A Bahraini MP says she looks forward to a unified Gulf Army as a prelude to the Gulf Union. Sawsan Al Taqawi was speaking on the occasion of the 32nd anniversary of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

“As we celebrate this glorious anniversary, we look forward to more accelerated paces towards moving from the stage of cooperation to the long due stage of unity,” MP Sawsan said. “The unity is a vision shared by the leaders and people of the Gulf and the GCC should achieve it in order to fulfil the aspirations and anticipations of the region,” she said. Continue reading

Saudi Arabia warns Iran over Gulf islands, Bahrain

The warning, the third in as many weeks by a member of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council(GCC), comes amid increased nervousness in the region over Iran.

Shi’ite-led unrest is resurgent in Bahrain a year after the ruling Al Khalifa family brought in Saudi andUAE troops to help suppress an uprising seen by Sunni Muslim Gulf rulers as sectarian in nature and driven by Shi’ite giant Iran.

“Any harm that comes across any of our countries is harm that touches us all,” Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Nayef said in a speech at a meeting of GCC interior ministers in Riyadh.

Nayef also condemned what he called Iran’s “occupation” of the island and its role in events in Bahrain.

“We stress that Saudi Arabia and the rest of the council countries are standing in a unified line with Bahrain and the UAE to protect sovereignty and stability, considering their security a part of the council’s security as a whole.”

Full article: Saudi Arabia warns Iran over Gulf islands, Bahrain (Yahoo!)

Saudis seek new security allies, sign nuclear agreement with China

Analysts and diplomats assert that the Saudi royal family has been
frustrated by the U.S. hesitation to stop Iran. They cited the refusal by
the administration of President Barack Obama to sign tough sanctions
legislation that targeted Iran’s energy sector.

“The Gulf states are definitely taking a stronger stance against Iran
and are using their considerable influence to try to convince others of
their Iranian fears,” Theodore Karasik, an analyst at the Institute for Near
East and Gulf Military Analysis in the United Arab Emirates, said.

Currently, the GCC, led by the Saudis, were engaged in a massive
military buildup. Riyad has ordered about $30 billion worth of fighter-jets
and munitions from the United States while the UAE was expected to purchase
another $20 billion from Washington.

Continue reading article: Saudis seek new security allies, sign nuclear agreement with China (World Tribune)