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are Air Force Officers in UAE, about 6000 are Air Force Officers in Qatar, about 25 are Air Force Officers in Oman, and about 4700 , are Navy in Bahrain” (Department-of-Defense, 2005).
The reasons for US in strengthening its defense forces in the GCC countries and improving GCC states’ Air and Naval cooperation is “Sensing growing air and naval threats from Iran and from terrorist infiltration by sea”(Cohen, 2000), but according to these activities Iran claim that the US wants to interfere in the Persian Gulf region and GCC countries, so the more military presence of the US in the Persian gulf region will lead to Iran’s concerns and its activities to counter US intervention in the GCC states and Persian gulf region.
The US arranged another joint security cooperation in 1991 which was called 6+2 security arrangement for the Persian Gulf region. According to this idea six Persian Gulf coastal states (GCC states) and Syria + Egypt under “Damascus Declaration” would be present in the Persian Gulf region to bolster the Peninsula Shield Forces. But “Damascus Declaration” never extended beyond the concept stage, because Persian Gulf states were not sure of Egypt and Syria and this prevented close military cooperation with those countries. Another main reason for defeating the “6+2” plan, was the absence of Iran, because Iran was the most powerful country in the region and its absence caused imbalance security system in the Persian Gulf region.
Inside the GCC forum, many of the political disputes have been solved and almost all border disputes between the GCC states that had mired cooperation within the GCC have been dissolute so the groundwork has been prepared for solving Arab-Iranian conflicts.
The Arab-Israeli struggle had always been one of the most important policies of the United States in the Middle East, that US seeks GCC’s support for it. During the Arab-Israeli peace process, in the Arabs world most of the GCC states had supported the US’s mediation efforts, so in the aftermath of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel bilateral recognition agreement in 1993, the GCC states participated in the multilateral peace talks. On the other hand, the GCC states, as Arab countries, clearly support the Arab positions on the struggle between Palestine and Israel such as financial support for the Palestinian Authority (PA) and also for the Palestinian nation that are managed by the Islamic Development Bank(Kessler, February 26, 2005).
But there are various differences between the GCC states and the United States. For example one main difference is about Hamas because the US sees Hamas as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO), but the GCC states see Hamas as a legitimate defender of Palestinian interests and resister of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories. Therefore it seems that reliance of the GCC states on US about Palestine issue cannot be sustainable.
The other issue that the United State seeks the support of GCC is counter-terrorism. In this case, the interest of the GCC states and the United States have been tied together because preventing Islamic extremist movements is the same goal for US and GCC states. Although the September 11 attack caused some tensions between the US and some of the GCC states, mainly Saudi Arabia, because US investigation showed that some of the GCC states donors had been contributing to groups and institutions that were linked to Al Qaeda (Katzman, p. 31), but in an effort to keep Al Qaeda militants contained, especially after the Iraq war in March 2003, the GCC states have been partners of the United States against Al Qaeda because Al Qaeda was a threat to the Persian gulf states themselves.
3.10.7 Military abilities of the GCC state
Although the GCC states always had the desire of a joint military force and capabilities to defend them and their territory from any external aggressive invasion, but until the end of 2008 they were unsuccessful. The GCC countries spent the estimated USD85 billion on military equipments and trainings between 1981 and 1983 (Joseph Albert Kechichian, p. 369) and also in recent time as Washington Post reported, two states of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia spent more than USD25 billion in arms purchases in the past two years of 2008 and 2009 alone. Although this purchase is mostly aimed at counter-balancing Iran’s growing conventional arsenal (Sevilla Jr & Center, 2011) and also the United States alone exported arms equipments to the Middle East (Persian Gulf) totaling more than USD90 billion since the Persian Gulf War (A. H. Cordesman, 1999) but they didn’t acquire a deterrent force and a combined military capacity of the GCC countries yet.
All GCC member states have in total approximately 200,000 military men despite the heavy eight years of war between Iran and Iraq, Iran remains more powerful than all six GCC states. Also there are two reasons why the present military equipments and trained forces are not compatible with the present and foreseeable military needs for the security of GCC states and the Persian Gulf region; First, although GCC states have bought some sophisticated military weapons from US and other western countries but they don’t have technical personnel to operate these systems so they heavily rely on foreigner personnel for operating and training indigenous military and civilian personnel for example there are alone as many as 10,000 military advisors in Saudi Arabia and about 3700 foreign military personnel in Oman (Allen, 1983, p. 12). Second, the sophisticated armament weapons system that were sold to the GCC states are from western countries and the US, so variety of these sold military combat equipments have slowed down the process of unification of the GCC armies at the technical level, because as long as GCC countries continue to purchase military weapon systems from various sources it is not possible for integration and cooperation between GCC countries for a common military army. On the other hand, the presence of about 15,000 foreign military personnel in the GCC states are dependent on the arms dealer countries such as the western countries and the USA, so the GCC countries cannot take any decision for military cooperation without the permission of external arms dealers unless they are dependent on them and this case will limit GCC military cooperation.
As it was mentioned arms transfer to the Persian Gulf region continued until today. There can be at least three reasons for it: 1) arms sales support military industries and American economy that are mostly based on third world military demands to the western countries; 2) Arms sales can build political alliances with the military leaderships of recipient country; 3) this believe that purchase of military equipments by the Persian Gulf states is necessary for their protection from attack. In this regard, the US always has tried to create a perceived enemy such as Iran to encourage the Persian Gulf States to continue to purchasing military equipments from US and western countries (J. A. Kechichian, 2004).
On the other hand there are some political reasons why the GCC states have not been able to establish a joint military command; The first reason comes back to the concern of GCC states from their western supporters that have military relation with some of the GCC members and a local integrated military cooperation may be harmful to their interests in the Persian gulf region. For example Sultanate of Oman has close military cooperation with the United States and Britain and the other GCC members consider this military cooperation as a banning line for themselves.
Although there have been so many endeavors to establish a joint defense policy since 1981, except for the two Peninsula Shield exercises, there have been not serious Joint defense agreements between the GCC states. GCC countries rely on external powers for their security and stability because of their limited military and political capabilities, so it is obvious that the two parameters are depending on each other: the lack of security leads to the lack of a Joint powerful army and the lack of a powerful army results in the security relations with external powers.
3.10.8 A turning point at Doha summit
For the first time since establishment of the GCC in 1980s, the GCC invited Iran’s president to its summit in Doha – capital city of Qatar – in 2007 that should be considered as a fundamental change in the strategies of its members. The GCC’s invitation to President Ahmadinejad was a clear sign of the U.S. defeat in all of its attempts to isolate the Islamic Republic in the region. The most important political message of inviting Iranian to attend the Doha Summit was the formal recognition of Iran as an influential and responsible regional power. However, another message was that the Iranian government’s confidence-building efforts in the region had proven to be effective.
At this summit, Iran’s President declared the main points of Iran’s policy regarding to the Persian Gulf region. President Ahmadinejad declared that Iran is to promote and enhance cooperation with all Persian Gulf states, and also Iran has tendency for deepening relations among regional states that leads to the maintenance and strengthening of security and amity in the region and in the world. Ahmadinejad indicated that the Persian Gulf could be kept as the Persian Gulf perpetual peace and friendship through Iranian assistance and coordination. President Ahmadinejad was on this belief that religious, historical, geographical and cultural commonalities of the Persian Gulf states are very good opportunities for strengthening and promoting bilateral ties.
Furthermore, at Doha summit, the Iranian proposal of expansion of peace and regional security cooperation was offered by president Ahmadinejad. The main titles of this proposal are as follows:
1) Establishing an Economic Cooperation

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