x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Arabian Gulf security sparks concerns among region’s trading partners

Security issues in the regions have led to concerns in China, the US and Russia, who have called for more dialogue about threats in the GCC.

ABU DHABI // Security issues in the region have led to concerns in China, the US and Russia.

The three countries were among those to call for more dialogue on security issues with the GCC, intelligence sharing on terrorism and more negotiations to tackle rising threats in the Arabian Gulf.

“The Arab spring didn’t have any serious negative influence on the China-GCC relations,” said Prof Pan Guang, vice chairman of the Shanghai Centre for International Studies. “But some negative influence since the Arab uprising have been economic.”

The China-GCC bilateral trade amount is almost Dh569 billion, double what it was a decade ago. Dubai ranks first in trade with China.

“China is concerned about the security in the region and you can do nothing without security,” Prof Pan said. “As such, we have a thousand soldiers in Southern Lebanon to boost the UN peacekeeping force and we sent three warships to join anti-piracy [efforts] in the Indian Ocean.”

He said China and the GCC could work together to support regional security.

“We should have intelligence-sharing for terrorism, which is important for China, the UAE and GCC countries,” he said. “China will pay more attention to security issues.”

Prof Alexey Vasiliev, director of the Institute for African Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, said that the nuclear weapons issue in Iran was paramount.

“The fact is that Russia is not less but maybe more interested than anybody else in the absence of nuclear weapons in Iran,” he said. “It’s a must because, if there are nuclear weapons in Iran, maybe tomorrow there will be in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and who knows what this will result in. The problem is not to stop any kind of Iranian nuclear programme but how to do it.”

He said political dialogue was the only productive way forward.

“It may sound idealistic to say that we should talk, but there is a Russian proverb that says ‘Long talks are better than one day of good war’,” Prof Vasiliev said. “To create regional security is a must for this region, it’s not just a matter for the Gulf, but a global problem in which all countries must participate. Ten years of bad negotiations are better than one day of good war.”

David Ignatius, foreign affairs columnist at The Washington Post, said it would be impossible for the US to re-establish stability in states such as Egypt without close communication with Gulf countries.