The Gulf Cooperation Council’s planned maritime security force — announced last week at a conference in Qatar — will most likely focus on coastal interdictions and counterterrorism operations and be less of a “blue water navy,” according to a regional expert.
Maj. Gen. Ahmed Yousif al-Mulla, assistant to the Kuwaiti defense minister, announced the formation of a GCC naval force on the sidelines of the Qatar Maritime Security Conference in Doha last week.
The new force is expected to be formed in the “coming months,” Mulla said, and military officials from the six GCC nations of Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates were still working out details for the naval force.
The size of the force will depend on the “level of external threats for gulf marine security,” he was quoted by AFP as saying.
The force is being formed in response to foreign intervention in the region, said Ahmed al-Attar, assistant director for defense and security at the Delma Institute in Abu Dhabi.
“This force is most likely being formed in response to what has happened in Yemen with the surge of Houthi armament and in Bahrain with opposition members receiving explosives and weapons,” he said.
“The main supply routes are through the sea and the flow of smuggled Iranian weapons into the region is a major cause for concern for security of the region,” he added.
The force, Attar said, is expected to mainly conduct naval interdiction missions, stopping illegal drugs and weapons shipment.
“It will consist mainly of interdiction vessels and patrol vessels and will be more of a coast guard than a real blue water navy, I expect,” he said.
In his statement, Mulla said the force will also be involved in counterterrorism operations. The announcement, he added, will be in the coming months and the force will be called Maritime Security Group 81.