100,000 combat troops to beef up GCC military force

1 / 2
2 / 2
Updated 23 December 2013

100,000 combat troops to beef up GCC military force

A strong deterrent force under a unified military command of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will be made up of 100,000 personnel including combat soldiers, National Guard Minister Prince Miteb bin Abdullah has announced.
Prince Miteb made the remarks during a meeting with the top brass following military exercises conducted by the National Guard in different parts of the Kingdom.
He said the GCC unified military command would be set up soon with the mission to deter and respond to any possible act of aggression against any member state of the GCC.
The National Guard is ready to extend all help to this process, said Prince Miteb.
The GCC has already decided to locate the headquarters of the new military command in Riyadh.
Abdullatif Al-Zayani, GCC secretary-general, said recently that Saudi Arabia, which hosts the 40,000-member Peninsula Shield, was deemed the most feasible location for the command.
The GCC member states set up the Peninsula Shield force in 1982.
Addressing a meeting of the GCC Joint Defense Council in Bahrain recently, Al-Zayani said the joint military command would bolster the GCC’s defense capabilities amid threats from neighboring countries.
Sharif Al-Rubian, a political analyst, said the GCC move is significant in view of regional tension and the changing positions of Western nations on key issues confronting the Middle East, especially the Gulf states
“Moreover, the affluent Gulf region holds 60 percent of the world’s conventional proven oil reserves and roughly 40 percent of gas reserves… for which security is of paramount importance,” said Al-Rubian.
The Peninsula Shield has its base at King Khalid Military City near Hafr Al-Batin in the Eastern Province.
The National Guard is one of the three branches of the armed forces of Saudi Arabia.
The National Guard, under the control and leadership of Prince Miteb, serves both as a defense force against external attack and as a security force deterring internal threats.
Its duties also include guarding strategic facilities and providing safety and security in Makkah and Madinah.


Turkey, Russia discuss joint patrols option in Syria’s Idlib

Updated 37 min 13 sec ago

Turkey, Russia discuss joint patrols option in Syria’s Idlib

  • Ankara and Moscow have accused each other of flouting a 2018 de-escalation agreement
  • But there had been some rapprochement between Turkey and Russia in their talks on Idlib

ANKARA: Turkey and Russia are discussing possible joint patrols as one way to reach a deal to halt fighting and stem an exodus of civilians in Syria’s Idlib region, a Turkish official said on Thursday, a day after Ankara threatened military action to push back Syrian government forces.
Turkey and Russia, which back opposing sides in the nine-year-old conflict, have failed to reach an agreement after two rounds of talks in the last two weeks.
A Syrian government offensive to eradicate the last rebel strongholds in northwest Syria has led to some of the most serious confrontations yet between NATO member Ankara and Damascus, and prompted Turkey to send thousands of troops and convoys of heavy weapons to the border area.
Turkey has taken in about 3.7 million Syrian refugees since the war started and says it cannot handle any more over its border, which is now closed. The United Nations says more than 900,000 people, mostly women and children, have fled their homes in Idlib since early December.
The Turkish official said the talks with Russia had not been “completely without a result.” The discussions had moved forward but reached no final decision, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)


“Russia has maintained its position that Turkey withdraws from Idlib and evacuates its observation posts since the beginning. Withdrawing from Idlib or evacuating the observation posts is not on the agenda.”
“Various exercises are being discussed. For example, ensuring security through Turkish and Russian security officials and holding joint patrols could be possible,” the official said, adding that both Ankara and Moscow expected their presidents to “end the issue.”
Turkey, which backs rebels trying to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad, has threatened to use military power to drive back Syrian forces advancing in Idlib unless they withdraw by the end of the month. On Wednesday, President Tayyip Erdogan said a Turkish offensive into Idlib was a “matter of time.”
Ankara and Moscow have accused each other of flouting a 2018 de-escalation agreement that allowed Turkey and Russia to set up military observation posts in Idlib.
Turkey has said some of its posts in Idlib were surrounded by Syrian government forces, but that it would not evacuate the positions or move them. On Tuesday, presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Turkey had rejected alternative maps offered by Russia during talks.
Earlier on Thursday, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said there had been some rapprochement with Russia in their talks on Idlib but that they were still not at the desired levels.
“There is no such thing as the Russians imposing a map on us, we exchanged documents presenting our respective positions,” Cavusoglu told state broadcaster TRT Haber.
Russia, which backs Assad, has said a Turkish offensive into Idlib would be the “worst-case scenario” and that Russia would work to prevent the situation there from worsening. Iran, which also backs Assad, has said it was ready to mediate between Syria and Turkey if necessary.
The official said Turkey, Russia and Iran planned to meet in Tehran early next month to further discuss Syria, including the developments in Idlib. A Russian delegation may come to Ankara before that to evaluate progress made on Idlib, the person said.