By Wael Mahdi
The Gulf Cooperation Council said it will form a unified military command structure at a time when Iran poses a “very serious” security threat to the Middle East.
The six-member group will coordinate air, land, and marine forces under one structure, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa said today in a press conference after a meeting of GCC heads of state in Manama, the Bahraini capital. Iran’s nuclear program is a security threat to the region, he said.
The GCC has accused Shiite-led Iran of intervening in the internal affairs of Arab countries in the Persian Gulf, home to three-fifths of the world’s oil reserves. Saudi Arabia in November submitted a letter to the United Nations stating that Iranian aircraft strayed into the kingdom’s territorial waters near oil and gas fields, Okaz newspaper said, citing Abdallah al-Mouallimi, the Saudi ambassador to the UN.
“We have several commands at the moment in different countries,” Sheikh Khalid said. “We want to create a central command that coordinates between all sub-commands and makes them work under one umbrella.” The new structure won’t replace the Peninsula Shield forces, he said.
The GCC sent in March last year the Peninsula Shield to Bahrain to help crush a Shiite Muslim revolt against its Sunni rulers. Iran has denied allegations of interference and accused Sunni rulers in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia of discriminating against Shiites.
Iran’s naval forces will conduct military exercises this week in and near the Strait of Hormuz, the state-run Fars news agency said today.