Gulf states launch joint military force for security

Leaders of the six Gulf Arab states wrapped up their two-day summit where they agreed to create a joint force for quick intervention to address security threats, announced they were opposed to any military action by the West against neighboring Iran and moved closer to a monetary pact.

Kuwait's emir on Monday opened the Gulf leaders' summit by voicing full support for Saudi Arabia in its fight against Yemeni rebels and calling on Iran to comply with international legitimacy but rejecting a strike on the Islamic republic, which lies across the Arabian Gulf.

"We do not accept any military action against Iran," Sheikh Mohammad said at the end of a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

"Any tension in the region will reflect on our situation. We have many problems already and we do not want any more," the minister, whose country chairs the GCC, told a news conference.

"We urge Iran to comply with what is required from it by the International Atomic Energy Agency and deal positively with international legal resolutions."

The final communique of the Gulf summit said its leaders welcome "international efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear program crisis through peaceful means."

Joint force and economies

Another decision to come out of the summit was the creation of a joint force that would intervene in situations similar to an incursion into Saudi Arabia by Yemen's Shiite Houthi rebels earlier this year.

Sheikh Sabah said the energy-rich nations are determined to forge ahead with further economic achievements, including the launch of a common power grid and rail network.

During the two-day gathering, GCC leaders will explore ways to boost and integrate their economies, which have suffered a knock-on effect from Dubai's debt crisis.

Kuwait's Finance Minister Mustafa al-Shamali on Sunday urged his counterparts to work together to contain the ongoing fallout from the financial crisis, although he made no explicit reference to Dubai.

The economies of the GCC nations, which boast 45 percent of the world's proven oil reserves and a quarter of global gas resources, have been hit hard by the sharp drop in oil revenues after years of major cash flow.

The GCC groups Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

A number of key economic integration projects will be launched at the summit.

The leaders are expected to officially launch a monetary union pact, approve a multi-billion-dollar railway network and commission the start of a common power grid project.

Gulf currency

Kuwait's foreign ministry undersecretary Khaled al-Jarallah, quoted by the KUNA news agency, said earlier on Monday that GCC foreign ministers had agreed on a time-frame for the Gulf single currency without providing details.

The agreement stipulates setting up a monetary council next year in Riyadh. This will later become a central bank which will issue the single currency.

Only four of the six GCC members have signed and ratified the monetary pact. Oman withdrew because it was unable to meet the conditions and the UAE withdrew after Riyadh was selected to host the central bank.

Later on Monday, the GCC leaders are expected to commission the first phase of a $1.6 billion Gulf power grid project.

The head of the power grid authority, Yussef Janahi, told a news conference the project would reduce the need for new generation capacity in GCC states next year by 5,000 megawatts. It will be completed in 2012, he said.

Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain have all been linked to the system, he said.

The GCC leaders will also discuss the fighting in Yemen and Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad al-Sabah told a foreign ministers meeting that GCC states were surrounded by "grave security developments and serious economic implications."

Middle East | Politics | 2009-12-15 |