Proposal to expand Peninsula Shield being reviewed

RIYADH: A proposal to expand the joint force of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) called Peninsula Shield is currently being reviewed by the Gulf governments with an aim to boost indigenous capability to deter any external threat or aggression.“The plan is at a preliminary stage being discussed by member countries,” said a GCC official speaking on the occasion of the bloc’s 30th anniversary celebrations that kicked off Tuesday.“The proposal calls for expanding the Peninsula Shield and stationing the troops in each of the six member countries,” said the official, while referring to the remarks made by Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Shaikh Khaled bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa. At the moment, the Peninsula Shield has about 40,000 troops and continues to have its permanent base at King Khaled Military City near Hafar Al-Batin in the Eastern Province.Speaking on the occasion, GCC Secretary-General Abdullateef Al-Zayani thanked Riyadh Gov. Prince Salman for his participation in the celebrations and for lending support and logistics to the GCC General Secretariat. The secretariat, which is the administrative arm of the GCC alliance located in Riyadh governorate, monitors policy implementation, arranges meetings and liaison with various government agencies of the Gulf countries.Al-Zayani announced that the GCC flag will be unfurled together with the national flags of the GCC countries at all land, air and sea ports of the member countries beginning Wednesday.“This hoisting of the GCC flag will send a message of unity among the member countries,” said Al-Zayani, adding: “This six-nation group had marched from strength to strength in all sectors, unifying their positions and boosting their capabilities.”

He said that some of the most important achievements of the GCC include the creation of the Peninsula Shield Force and the signing of an intelligence-sharing pact in 2004.At a GCC summit in December 2009, an agreement was reached to launch a single regional currency similar to the euro, a project on which the member countries have made significant progress despite some differences.Referring to the regional disputes and the role of the GCC, Al-Zayani said in a statement: “The GCC seeks to resolve disputes by peaceful means and support issues of concerns to Arab and Islamic countries.” He hailed the achievements made in the implementation of the Gulf Customs Union since 2003 and the Gulf Common Market since 2008, noting that these ambitious projects laid a firm foundation for integration among the GCC countries.He said that the GCC had opted for expansion. In this regard, he said Jordan and Morocco would be joining the GCC as announced at the annual GCC Consultative Summit recently.“The expansion of the only Arab alliance that has survived successfully for almost 30 years should yield great results,” said Al-Zayani, while referring to the membership proposal for the two countries. On the other side, the GCC has also made much progress in giving better life to their nationals compared to other countries. – Arabnews