February 27, 2013

A Military-Economic Component of the Policy of the Persian Gulf Monarchies

If Ethiopia, according to scientists, is considered to be the "cradle of humanity", and then the Persian Gulf since the end of the last millennium has firmly taken the position of an "explosive site of geopolitical rebooting"(Source http://dergachev.ru). There have been the greatest numbers of bloodshed conflicts in this reason over the last quarter of the century, which took away dozens of thousands of lives. This region is a motherland to the notorious "Arab Spring," a springboard for the continuation of the war in Afghanistan and of operations to control Iran and other countries of the region.

But the Gulf monarchies against the background of Arab Spring shocks, demonstrated stability and enviable ability to overcome severe crises, adapting to changing circumstances and changing them at their own will. This flexibility provides ensures their relatively safe existence in the dangerously explosive region. An example of this is the events of the past months. Arab nationalism in the form of an "Arab Awakening", that swept the regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and continues to shake Syria, seems to be failing. The unrests actually did not affect the Gulf monarchies, in Morocco demonstrations have stopped, the situation in Oman and Kuwait is stable. Bahrain, having received an assistance from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, quite quickly coped with the opposition which had been counting on Iran’s support, and actually has stabilized the situation in the country.

Gulf States

Needless to once again remind you that the Persian Gulf is the world's largest region of energy carriers. The countries of the Gulf (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE) have about 66% of world oil reserves. Moreover, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a well-recognized oil superpower, which owns 22.3% of world oil reserves.

The Islamic Republic of Iran and the Emirate of Qatar take, respectively, the second and third (after Russia) place in the world in natural gas reserves. Here are situated some of the world's richest countries, led by Qatar (with the GDP of 110 thousand US dollars per person). It is obvious that as long as oil dominates the world fuel-energy balance, the world’s energy pole will be in the Persian Gulf zone and, therefore, the situation will go on being intense and explosive, of black blood of geopolitics will continue to flow next to the red human blood, and there are a few reasons for this.

In Eurasian geopolitics of the USA, which since the end of the last millennium has also been undergoing a transformation, the "Iranian threat" has successfully replaced the once notorious "Soviet threat". That is why, various demonstrations of Shiites in Arab states of the Persian Gulf are attributed solely to Iran, and Sunni unrests are explained as "unfavourable combination of events". At all this, the Sunni- Shia conflict is used in the struggle for regional leadership. Iran is the largest Shia country, and rich countries of Arabia - predominantly Sunni monarchies, with the exception of Oman, where supporters of  Ibadism, considering  themselves "true Muslims”, dominate.


Another burst of Shia protests in 2011, was due  not only to the "flower" revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, but it was also provoked by Washington's policy, which it leads in the region. After the occupation of Iraq, the United States overthrew Saddam Hussein's Sunni regime, relying on the support of local Shia who were not adequately represented in the government, but almost entirely subordinated to the Supreme Leader of Iran. Washington insisted that the key post of the Prime Minister in the government of national unity took a representative of the Shia minority. Are the Shia in Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia worse? They liked the American "democratization" of the Middle East aiming at strengthening the role of the Shiites. So was created a new, artificial problem - the Shia one.

Tehran has consistently supported the Shia communities in Arab countries. After the American aggression against Iraq that led to chaos in the country and put it on the brink of a split on ethnic and religious basis, the Shia Iran’s support to its brothers in religion in other Arab countries is increasing. Apart from supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon, Iran is widening its presence in Iraq. Experts believe that Iran is assisting Yemeni Shia too. In case of sharpening of religious confrontation, Iran may again raise the question of the status of the mainly Shia Bahrain, which, is considered a historical Iranian territory.

In the regional diplomacy can be noticed, though still timid, but ever-growing trends towards the Sunni-Shia dialogue between countries of the Arabian Peninsula and Iran, based on the Muslim religious communality.


But as an Eastern saying goes, let us return to our sheep. The Persian Gulf has been declared a zone "vital for the USA’s interests", despite the fact that America gets only 17% of the exported oil. Washington's control over the region is needed to hold back the EU, Japan and China in the global competition. In 1980s the leading Western state played a role of a political and military guarantor of energy security of NATO allies in the Gulf area, and the Arabian monarchy saw the United States as a guarantor of regional security. However, the USA’s aggression against Iraq, the war in Afghanistan caused negative attitude in the Arab society towards the forcible imposition of democracy. And monarchs have to live with it.


The US administration at the beginning of the "Cold War" era declared the oil-rich Persian Gulf region, "a zone of its vital interests" and created an extensive network of 19 military bases in the Arab countries of the Arabian Peninsula. Over the past two decades, America has sold modern weapons at 55 billion US dollars to the Arab states of the Arabian Peninsula.  Maintaining the US bases in Saudi Arabia costs about 60 billion US dollars a year. In Er-Riyadh, Americans hold significant security forces securing the regime of the Saudi monarchy. Many Arabs of the Kingdom that hosts the main Muslim shrines take the US military presence as an insult.  In the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman are permanently based more than 30 warships, 19 of which belong to the US Navy.


Two US aircraft carriers are permanently present in the zone of the Persian Gulf, performing tasks in the area of ​​responsibility of the 5th Fleet of the US Navy, which includes the Arabian and Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, the waters off the east coast of Africa south of Kenya, Oman and the Persian Gulf’s.

Over the past two decades the number of the USA’s troops in the Persian Gulf has increased from 20 to 150 thousand, not to include Iraq, where up to 150 thousand US servicemen were present.


On the eve of the new 2013, in Bahrain's capital of Manama, an annual, the 33rd

in a row, summit of Cooperation Council of Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) took place. As a matter of fact, this meeting can be called a summit with a little stretch: out of six heads of Arab monarchies, only the King of Bahrain and the Emir of Kuwait participated in the work of the forum. Members of the Council, which includes Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and the UAE, demanded from Iran "immediately and completely to put an end to the interference into their inner affairs", accusing Iran of violating regional stability and creating threats to safety. The communiqué also stated the inadmissibility of the Iranian occupation of the three islands - Abu Musa, Greater and Lesser Tumb, which are located in the Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the Persian Gulf, and which were taken under Tehran’s control in 1971.

Traditionally the Cooperation Council called on Iran to cooperate fully with the IAEA and to ensure security at the nuclear power plant in Bushehr, in order to “avoid a catastrophe”.

But the main achievement of the meeting is a project to create a unified military commandment of the GCC member states, which will be given all supervisory functions over the combined forces of Arab Gulf countries “The Shield of the Peninsula” which will include the air and sea components. The working title of this new regional military-political bloc is "An Arab Union".

On the eve of the summit, the hosting side’s representatives warned that we should not expect a proclamation of a new alliance in the nearest future, because to realize such an ambitious project, it is necessary to develop (as it is “in fashion” now) a "road map”, to analyze the financial and economic situation and to agree on a great number of issues. However, the ongoing war in Syria and increased military and diplomatic activity of Tehran encourage Arab monarchies to become more active.

"The first step towards the formation of our union is that we had all officially recognized the opposition National Coalition in Syria as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people," - said the GCC Secretary General Abdullatif al-Zayani. The next step, according to him, should be consultations between the military leaders of the Persian Gulf countries, as well as between the leaders of the security services responsible for the internal security of each state. Their common position on Syria and dislike of Iran, were proclaimed a "starting point" for the formation of a new political and military alliance in the region.

Al-Zayani was also supported by heads of other monarchies, explaining the reasons why they decided to join forces in the military-political bloc. "What happened up to now, did not meet our expectations. We aspire to a strong alliance with the integrated economy and a common system of defense, "- said the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Abdul Aziz bin Salman, who represented the Kingdom at the summit. He was supported by the King of Bahrain Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, who replaced the former calls "no hurry" with the statements about the need to "strengthen the security umbrella" for the Persian Gulf countries. By the "security umbrella" in the Persian Gulf they traditionally mean strengthening the common air defense system (with American help, of course).

After the military intervention of Saudi Arabia in Bahrain, which severely suppressed the rebellion of local Shiites, the Gulf States began to develop a coordinated policy in the security sphere, and now its military component is rapidly increasing. After all, on the other side of the Gulf is ideologically and religiously hostile Iran, which is also contesting three islands in the Strait of Hormuz. "Iranian threat" and help to Syrian rebels are the best reasons to unite and arm themselves in order to achieve their own dominance in the region. It is no accident that the Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, in his speech in Manama united a call for humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees with a demand to Tehran "to achieve peaceful regulation with its neighbours" in the long-standing dispute about the status of the islands, occupied by Iranians. All these actions cause an understandable concern in civil countries of the Middle East that on the example of Libya have already seen the consequences of the aid from "Islamic Brothers" from the shores of the Persian Gulf.

The goals of the GCC are also very clear - they want to make the entire Arab East, despite all its sectarian and political diversity, the "sphere of vital interests", to form a kind of Arabic equivalent of NATO. But for this they need technical help from the West, which they will have to ask in order to achieve their interests in Syria. And again, the West is ready to provide this assistance.

Let's now take a closer look, what already is in the hands of the monarchs of the region?

The largest number of US military bases and objects in the Middle East is located in the Persian Gulf. At this, all contracts and agreements on providing direct military assistance in case of threats to the national security of each of the monarchies were signed in 1991-1992. Almost with all at the same time! Massive penetration into the region, not otherwise ...
The main forms of military cooperation of the United States of America with Arabian monarchies are:

the supply of arms and military equipment, followed by a guaranteed maintenance and repair;

  • modernization of the supplied equipment;
  • training national military personnel;
  • joint trainings with the armed forces of the GCC member states;
  • direct military presence at the territories of  Arabian monarchies;
  • assisting in the development of the monarchies’ own military industry


The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is a major political and military partner of the USA in the Middle East, although the two countries do not have a formal agreement. The USA is a leader in the field of military and military-technical cooperation of KSA with foreign countries, supplying it with large quantities of arms and equipment, the most modern and high-technology ones included.

At the territory of the KSA there are located the following AF bases: "Prince Sultan", "King Abdul Aziz", "King Fahd", "King Khaled" and "Iskan-Village."

A large US AF base is located near Dhahran, where the headquarters of the world's largest oil producing company, Saudi Aramco, are situated.

“Prince Sultan " American AF base, situated near Riyadh, is used as a flight paths control in the airspace of Afghanistan.

In 2008-2011 the USA delivered weapons and military equipment worth more than 3.4 billion US dollars. In 2010, it was announced about possible selling of military equipment worth almost 30 billion US dollars to Riyadh. (84 multi-purpose fighter aircraft F-15SA, modernization of 70 F-15, which already were in the Air Forces of KSA included). The package of agreements also includes the supply of striking and multi-purpose helicopters AH-64D Apache Longbow and Sikorsky UH-60M Blackhawk (we know that 36 AN-64D Apache Longbow helicopters and 70 UH-60M are meant; besides, the package includes delivery of 36 light helicopters AN-6I and 12 MD-530F), as well as a large set of accessories, weapons, and related services for a total of about 25.6 billion US dollars. It is also planned that the Saudis will buy large quantities of weapons for their ground forces too.

The Pentagon also plans in 2013 to increase the supply of Saudi Arabia with missiles "air-surface" and "air-to-air", which should strengthen the existing “Patriot” system which is in service in the country.

Note that taking into consideration the price of the helicopter contract with Saudi Arabia, the total value of the USA’s contracts signed in 2011 had to exceed 56.3 billion US dollars.

The authorities of the United Arab Emirates strongly emphasize the "strategic character" of the relationship with the USA. In 1994, the two countries signed an agreement providing for advance warehousing in UAE stocks of the USA’s weapons and supplies, construction of military facilities, joint trainings. There are agreements on the lease of airfields Ras Al Khaimah and Al Fujairah to deploy at them, if necessary, a US Air Force combat group.

In the Emirates, US warships have an access to the military base in the port of Jebel Ali, and refuelling of military aircraft is done at the base of Ed Dhafre near Abu Dhabi.

At the Air Force Base of El Jafr American reconnaissance-planes are based as well as refuelling planes for ISAF operations in Afghanistan. On the base there is also an International Centre for the Air Force combat training.

The UAE has storage facilities for the US Navy, as a point of logistics the Americans use the port of El-Fujairah. Up to 3,000 US AF servicemen are dislocated at the territory of the UAE.

The United States dominates the UAE market of defense products. In 2008-2011, the UAE purchased from USA arms and military equipment worth 7.33 billion dollars, and in 2012-2015, this sum, as planned, may reach 12.7 billion US dollars. For example, the USA supplied the UAE with 16 transport helicopters CH-47F Chinook (total cost of 939 million US dollars).

Emirates are also the main partner of the United States in establishing a regional missile defense system. The UAE bought two batteries of the THAAD missile complex (3, 48 billion US dollars), which will be delivered in 2014, and in 2011 the USA and the UAE have already held their first trainings of the AM system.

In 1992, the Emirate of Qatar, and the United States signed an agreement on defense and security. In particular, it suggests a direct American military assistance to the Emirate in case of an extraordinary situation. Besides, the USA got an access to the Qatari ports and airfields. Thus, at the base in Es-Saylia weapons and equipment for an armoured brigade of the US Army are stocked. At the same base is an advanced command post of the Operations Central Command (OCC), which, according to the Americans, is of «vital importance to the United States."

In Qatar, there are three US Air Force bases, including the one near the capital city of Doha - Es-Saylia, and a mobile Command and Communication Centre, which duplicates the headquarters of the US Central Command in Tampa, Florida.

One of the largest US military objects abroad is the Al-Udeid air base used to support combat operations in Afghanistan. It also hosts the Air Operations OCC.

From the Emirate’s territory Americans carry out air, radio and radio-technical intelligence in the Persian Gulf, while keeping track of the situation and in the Qatar.

In 2010, the Americans deployed “Patriot” AM batteries in Qatar. 8,000 American servicemen are deployed at the territory of the Emirate.

The USA has lately been leaders in the Qatari military imports. Thus, in 2008-2011, the cost of the imported American equipment and weapons reached 852.6 million US dollars. In 2012, it was announced that they will purchase helicopters from the USA at the sum of approximately 6 billion US dollars.

In 1991the Emirate of Kuwait and the United States signed an agreement on military cooperation, which, in particular, guarantees an American assistance to the emirate against an external aggression. There are warehouses for the US AF’s weapons and military equipment in this country. A relatively small area of ​​Kuwait has five US bases, including three air bases. In 2003, Kuwait, unlike other Arab countries, allowed the USA to use military bases for aggression against Iraq. Kuwait has deployed about 15 thousand American servicemen, mostly on Camp Doha and Arifdzhan military bases. “Patriot” AM batteries are also deployed there.

Kuwait is a serious buyer of American military goods. In 2011-2012 Emirate purchased from the USA the arms worth about 4.7 billion US dollars.

In 1991, the Kingdom of Bahrain and the United States signed an Agreement on Defense and Security.

The USA is actually the main guarantor of the security of the Kingdom in case of external aggression. At the territory of Bahrain there are the headquarters of the 5th Fleet of the US Navy and the main components of its life support. The 5th Fleet’s warships are on combat duty in the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf, providing protection of major oil routs. There is also a regional Command Post of Special Forces of the USA Armed Forces.

Americans have the right to use the El Muharrik airbase and the Sitra Naval base.

Command of the US Armed Forces has also placed at the territory of the Kingdom a Communication Centre, a space point for collection of the information from satellites that monitor the Indian Ocean and Iran, the station of reconnaissance and munitions depots. About 5.000 American servicemen are stationed permanently in Bahrain.

The USA is the main supplier of arms and military equipment for Bahrain’s AF. In 2001-2009 the Kingdom bought the US military products for about 1.9 billion US dollars.

Washington is considered the most important strategic partner of the Sultanate of Oman.

By agreement of 2010 the Sultanate gave Americans the right to use, if necessary, military bases on the island of Masirah, in Mascat and Tumarit.

From the bases in Oman take off American reconnaissance-assault unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and fly over Afghanistan and other countries of the region.

The USA’s exports to Oman have recently increased significantly. In 2010, the Pentagon announced its intention to supply the Sultan Air Force with additional batch of 18 F-16 fighters Block 50/52 which cost 1.4 billion US dollars.

In 2011, Oman made a request to purchase American military equipment worth almost 1.3 billion US dollars. Mostly, it's means of AD. At the territory of the Sultanate there are warehouses for equipment and arms for the US AF. Navy ships make frequent calls at Omani ports. At the same time, the American military presence in the country is limited to only servicemen.


But that's not all. The region has again surprised the Muslim world. Recently the GCC offered the Monarchies of Jordan and Morocco to join the Council, and the kings and emirs almost in one voice "suddenly" began to talk about creation of a "Confederative Arab State." The idea has only been in the air, but its very being widely discussed gives reason to say that "the period of geopolitical reboot" may never come. Adoption of poor relatives by the rich Council can contribute to stability in the region, which all so much want to achieve.


But here a question appears, “Will these plans and ideas not contradict the colonial strategy of the Western states and multinational oil and gas corporations, strictly watching any kind of encroachment on their interests?" Besides, we have repeatedly witnessed that in modern conditions one who "walks in politics by himself", without a strong "roof" and support from the outside, is doomed to political or even physical suicide.

And what about Iran? Iran is preparing for war! But more about that a bit later.

To be continued.

Photo in the header of the material - http://dailytribune.ru/2011/12/02/gulf-sunni-monarchies-fear-shiite-spring/