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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 September 2018

Qatar meets with GCC chiefs of staff in Kuwait

The annual military meeting included Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain

Chiefs of staff of the Gulf Cooperation Council nations' armed forces at the 15th meeting for the Supreme Military Committee of Chiefs of Staff in Kuwait, September 10, 2018. EPA
Chiefs of staff of the Gulf Cooperation Council nations' armed forces at the 15th meeting for the Supreme Military Committee of Chiefs of Staff in Kuwait, September 10, 2018. EPA

The GCC Supreme Military Committee of Chiefs of Staff met on Monday with the attendance of all six member states, including boycott-hit Qatar.

The annual meeting aims to encourage greater co-operation between the six member states of the GCC, which, since the Qatar crisis, has been embroiled in the worst diplomatic situation since its formation in 1981.

Saudi Arabia, along with the UAE and Bahrain, cut relations with Qatar in June 2017, and the countries have had no direct contact with Doha outside of GCC meetings.

But the six-nation bloc has brought the two sides together, most notably during Kuwait’s hosting of the annual GCC meeting in December 2017.

“Chiefs of staff discussed several topics related to the promotion of joint military action, aimed at bringing the GCC member states' armed forces towards integration,” said Kuwait state news agency, Kuna.

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The meeting, which came one week after Kuwait’s Emir, Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, met United States President Donald Trump in Washington, will look to “promote a conjoined military action”. Although not directly specified, this could relate to what has commonly been referred to as “Arab Nato”.

The force, backed by the US, will look to act as a counterbalance to Iran’s growing expansionist agenda in the Arab world.

In July, Kuwait's Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid Al Jarallah said his country was considering US proposals for a strategic alliance in the Middle East to counter Iran's influence in the region.

During the Emir’s visit to Washington, Mr Trump said Iran was in “total turmoil” and that he would be open to talk about the nuclear deal pullout with Iran.

During that meeting, the Emir and his American counterpart also looked at ways to solve the Gulf crisis.

Kuwait has served as the chief mediator during the 15-month Qatar boycott — the worst political crisis to hit the oil-rich Gulf.

The Gulf commanders will also meet representatives of the US Central Command and the Egyptian and Jordanian militaries on Wednesday, the Kuwaiti official said.

The meetings will come just over a week after Pentagon chief James Mattis and Centcom (US Central Command) head General Joseph Votel held talks in the Gulf.

The meeting was attended by the chiefs of staff and airforce commanders of the six GCC countries. From Kuwait, Chief of General Staff Army Lieutenant General Mohammed Khaled Al Khader; from Saudi Arabia, Major General Fayyadh bin Hamid bin Ragad Al Ruwaili; from the UAE, Lt General Hamad Mohammad Thani Al Rumaithi; and from Qatar, its Chief of Staff Ghanim Al Ghanim.

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