The six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) state members have agreed to set up a joint maritime security force and enhance cooperation in naval operations in response to increasing regional maritime conflict, according to reports in local media.
A joint naval exercise would begin in the UAE on Monday and run until Thursday as a first step towards a unified command system to be used in emergencies, a GCC statement said.
The exercise would help raise the level of GCC’s preparedness, combat efficiency and cooperation.
Saudi Arabia is participating in the GCC exercise with a number of naval units, boats, special naval security units and Super Puma aircraft.
The creation of a GCC force will complement international efforts in the field of maritime security, especially at a time when radical groups and militants have become very active in the waters. These groups are also backed by some nation states.
GCC secretary general Abdul Latif Al Zayani in November called for the establishment of a joint naval force in the region to counter escalating maritime threats.
He said maritime threats in the Gulf had taken new forms and new dimensions, making it imperative for GCC states to review their naval procedures, UAE state news agency WAM reported at the time.
Kuwaiti defence official Major General Ahmed Yousif Al Mulla said in a recent report, “threats to regional waters over the past year have extended from the Strait of Hormuz further south to the Bab Al Mandal gateway in Yemen and north to the Red Sea”, Arab News said.
The six-member bloc has also decided to create a common GCC police force and a common counterterrorism body.