Region welcomes Nato’s commitment to GCC

June 9, 2012

Nato’s reiteration of its commitment to strengthen its partnership with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states who are members of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) has been generally welcomed in the region.

The 28 members of the alliance agreed at their summit in Chicago in May to “strengthen and develop partnership relations with countries in the region, with whom we face common security challenges and share the same goals for peace, security and stability”, the final communique of Nato’s 25th summit said.

“We are also ready to consider providing, upon request, support to our partners in the region in such areas as security institution building, defence modernisation, capacity development, and civil-military relations,” the communique added.

“Individualised programmes will allow us to focus on agreed priorities for each partner country.”

“Within the rapidly and sometimes ominous focus shifting in the region, the GCC countries do not to have friends and supporters,” Fareed Hassan, a media expert, said.

“Some people tend to think of Nato as the military powerhouse that killed Pakistanis.

“It is much more than that, and while the deaths of innocent people are deeply regretted and must be avoided at all costs, we also have to think of the security options that Nato can give us and of how it can help us with our interests as we face serious challenges that include terrorism, piracy, and cyber-attacks.”

No country can confront modern challenges on its own and Nato as a powerful deterrence force can help, he said.

“I attended the Nato conference in Manama in June 2007 and I thought that the issues it tackled, particularly the prospects of GCC-Nato cooperation, were interesting and could serve our interests,” he said.

“Bahrain and the other ICI members come in a different picture from the one in other parts of the world. Here, there are real opportunities and they should seize them.”

Kuwait took a new move to boost its partnership and said that it would open a Nato centre.

At the Chicago summit, the alliance members hailed the Kuwaiti decision.


“We will strengthen political dialogue and practical cooperation in the ICI,” the communique said.

“We warmly welcome the generous offer by the State of Kuwait to host an ICI Regional Centre, which will help us to better understand common security challenges, and discuss how to address them together.

“We encourage our ICI partner countries to be proactive in exploiting the opportunities offered by their partnership with Nato.”

During the high-level meeting, Nato stressed the importance of its partnership with the ICI members while UAE news agency WAM reported that its officials praised the Emirates’ cooperation with the International Security Assistant Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.

Nicola De Santis, Nato Public Diplomacy Division Coordinator, said the UAE was one of the main partners within the ICI, WAM said.

“We are continuously communicating with them in respect of the situation in Afghanistan and the peace process in the Middle East,” he said.

“For the time being, we are focused on moving forward in cooperation with the UAE within the framework of the ICI to promote mutual understanding between the UAE and Nato.

“We are keen on cooperation to contribute alongside the international community to building a world of security, peace and prosperity and not of violence, tension and chaos.”

Strategic concept

The 2010 Strategic Concept adopted at the Nato summit in Lisbon to serve as the alliance’s roadmap for the next ten years was more clear about its new role in global crisis management. The alliance between the two concepts launched in Afghanistan its first operations the Treaty’s territory.

“Alliance security interests can be affected by other risks of a wider nature, including acts of terrorism, sabotage and organised crime, and by the disruption of the flow of vital resources,” the strategy said.

“The uncontrolled movement of large numbers of people, particularly as a consequence of armed conflicts, can also pose problems for security and stability affecting the Alliance.

“Arrangements exist within the alliance for consultation among the allies under article four of the Washington Treaty and, where appropriate, co-ordination of their efforts including their responses to risks of this kind.”

In Chicago, Nato said it looked forward to Libya, a country in which it played the major role in the drive to oust former leader Muammar Gaddafi, joined the Mediterranean Dialogue partners.

“We welcome Libya’s stated interest to deepen relations with the Alliance,” the communique said.

“We are ready to welcome Libya as a partner, if it so wishes.

“In that perspective, the Mediterranean Dialogue is a natural framework for this partnership.

“We stand ready, if requested, and on a case-by-case basis, to consider providing assistance to Libya in areas where Nato can add value.

“Nato’s activities would focus primarily on security and defence sector reform, while taking into account other international efforts.”

The call received mixed reactions, ranging from a warm welcome to a strong opposition to any form of partnership.

“Conflicting reactions are normal,” Hassan said.

“Obviously for Nato, reaching agreements or near agreements on its approach and work across vastly different countries with clashing political and ideological objectives is a daunting challenge.”



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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