Saudi Arabian prince Turki al-Faisal, a former intelligence chief and still a top figure in the country’s royal family, reportedly told a Bahraini security conference on Wednesday that Gulf states should cooperate on obtaining “nuclear know-how” in order to balance gains made by Iran, the latest in what has become a steady stream of signals from Riyadh that a failure by the West to put Tehran’s atomic program beyond use for weaponization risks a cascade of nuclear proliferation across the region.
Defense News reported last week that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) had formally invited Jordan and Morocco to join a conventional military alliance, and that there was an ongoing push to include Egypt as well:
One year ago, the GCC invited Morocco and Jordan to join the regional grouping. The most recent move, according to the Jordanian official, is seen as another step in solidifying the relationship between the only remaining monarchies in the Arab world.
According to the newspaper report, the military alliance would receive the assistance of a total of 300,000 troops from Morocco and Jordan, as well as Egypt if included.
In exchange, the three countries will be provided with financial aid.
The announcement had come alongside other moves seemingly aimed at consolidating Arab countries diplomatically and militarily opposite Iran, including a seemingly successful effort to overcome rifts between three Gulf nations and Qatar. Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported today that Qatari Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Attiyah told a Kuwaiti press conference that recent disputes between Doha and the rest of the GCC were finished:
“The statement issued in Riyadh on April 17 was clear… For the brothers in the Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] the dispute is over,” Khaled Al-Attiyah told a press conference in Kuwait after a meeting with his Kuwaiti counterpart Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah.
GCC foreign ministers met last week and announced an end to months of unprecedented tensions between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
The three countries recalled their ambassadors from Doha after accusing Qatar of meddling in their internal affairs and supporting the banned Muslim Brotherhood.
Faisal’s statements will now likely refocus attention on the potential nuclear dimensions of Sunni-Shiite tensions. That said, the sentiments are not new. Observers know from Wikileaks cables that Saudi Arabia had already urged U.S. officials to launch attacks against Iranian nuclear infrastructure years ago, and in July 2010 the UAE’s ambassador to Washington publicly made the case that the benefits of bombing Iran’s nuclear installations outweighed the probable costs.
Photo: [Xavier B.R. / YouTube]